Employee retention is an increasing concern for many businesses – as newer generations enter the workforce, and the competitive landscape of recruitment continues to shift, there is expanding importance on not only attracting the best talent, but hanging on to it. Nicola Lathbury, MD of Hexagon FM, Founder of FMConnect, BIFM committee member and WIFM committee member knows all about these complex developments, with over 15 years of industry experience.
Nicola recently sat down with us to answer our questions about recruitment in a digital age, offering her expertise in topics such as retaining talent and driving employee productivity.
Q: According to research by Kronos and Future Workplace, 87% of HR leaders are aware of the importance of employee retention, and consider it a primary concern. How do you feel employers ensure they are able to retain their workforce?
A: Being more connected with your employees and understanding individual motivators for your workforce is one of the key drivers to retaining top talent. There is a misconception money is the only driver for motivation, however, for most it’s development, feeling valued, receiving recognition and providing flexibility.
Providing your workforce with third party organisations or an internal division where employees have the ability to talk freely about how they feel in confidence is key. Giving individuals a voice to help the business gather insight and learn, in order in order to adapt, are now must have facilities.
Q: Social media has changed the way we work, socialise and market to our audience. How have you embraced social media recruitment in Facilities Management?
A: Social media has been a game changer in so many ways. I am a very active user of LinkedIn and find the reach, benefits and networks I have built on this platform invaluable to my business. Facebook and Twitter also offer my business a different, but comprehensive social strategy. They give me the ability to share videos, current vacancies and content, as well as giving me the ability to actively participate with sharing knowledge, contacts and referrals. Social media has opened doors for me: 90% of all my new business is achieved from recommendation and referrals, and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good position to be in.
Q: Aberdeen Group report that 73% of 18-34-year olds found their most recent job through social media. Have you seen an uptake of social recruitment from different generations?
A: Yes, using social media to network, connect and promote is now the norm. In the FM sector, we have embraced social media technology, and because the FM industry has such a vast generational pool of talent it has been faster that other sectors. The FM industry is renowned for being very people-centric; a community of peers who already communicated efficiently, and with social media this has become an effective platform to facilitate our collaborative nature.
Q: The rise in use of video in business has been steadily growing. For example, Google’s five-minute long “Interns’ First Week” video has been viewed 3.4 million times and shared 12,000 times. How do you see this technology benefiting the future of recruitment?
A: Video is an amazing recruitment tool, and of course we use video at Hexagon. You can regularly see myself and the team publishing snapshot videos discussing exciting job opportunities. Creating bite-sized chunks of information via video is an extremely effective channel for communicating the latest information. It's attention grabbing and gives the business higher engagement rates than static graphics. As a business, we are in the process of implementing video interviewing into our future roadmap. Very exciting times.
“Video Conferencing is the perfect technology to assist with face to face engagement” – Nicola speaking at Condeco’s Workplace Innovation Forum in November 2017
Q: A recent survey by the Pew Research Centre found that 14% of job seekers have filled out a job application on their mobile device, and many more search for roles while on the move. Have you seen any trends with the use of mobile, and how has the recruitment industry had to adapt?
A: Absolutely, many companies are now implementing video interviews or systems where applicants can reply with video responses to specific questions. These responses can easily be recorded from the applicant’s smartphones, enabling them to apply and reply from anywhere, anytime.
Q: According to findings from The Harvey Nash Human Resources 2017 Survey, about 15% of HR leaders in over 40 countries believe that automation and AI are already impacting their workplace. Do any of your candidates share concern of these technologies in the FM industry?
A: Our candidates do share these concerns, however technology like AI and automation will create a varied selection of jobs within the sector and will never remove the human interaction all together. AI and automation will allow for better productivity and a stronger focus on human interaction roles. The expectation will be for human-to-human service to become much better, whilst we use AI and robots to take away the mundane tasks.
Q: Companies that support remote workers have 25% lower employee turnover than companies that don't. With the rise of agile and flexible working, do you see candidates looking for organisations that offer these types of roles?
A: Absolutely. Lifestyles are changing; we have an aging population which means our responsibilities to our parents as caregivers has changed. For example, years ago, it was only usually seen that parents had flexible working due to having children. Now we need flexibility to care for elderly parents, plus children. The great thing with the use of technology, cloud platforms and agile working, is that many people can do a large proportion of their role from anywhere, at any time. Employees look for flexibility, because for me, it shows a culture shift towards your employee’s wellbeing. This is a good indicator of what the company is like to work for. Are they rigid in their approach or do they allow you to work in a way which best suits your style and performance?
If they offer flexibility, there’s a good chance the business will be flexible in their approach to problems and solutions, cultivating creativity and allowing people the freedom to express their ideas on new ways of working.