The pace of change in the talent market is unprecedented.
With the economy nearing a state of full employment and driven by a variety of socio-economic changes and technological advancements, the old school employer-employee power dynamic is evolving to a more transparent, trusting and reciprocal relationship.
Talent professionals and business are rethinking their hiring strategies to respond to these influences and appeal to a modern and changing workforce. At the same time, employers are shifting their focus and looking for more than just technical skills from their teams; they are looking for the ability to think creatively, collaborate effectively, and adapt quickly. As they tool up for the future economy, they are looking for soft skills.
Our Global Talent Trends 2019 report is based on a survey compiled from interviews with over 5,000 talent professionals in 35 countries – nearly 500 in the UK specifically – coupled with behavioral insights on how people use LinkedIn, and conversations with experts and employers. It explores the biggest trends fuelling workplace transformation today.
In the UK, the report revealed three key trends: the prioritization of ‘soft’ skills in businesses, the importance of creating a flexible workplace, and the positive impact of transparency – particularly in relation to pay.
The rise of soft skills: how persuasive and adaptable are you?
Traditional ‘hard skills’ will always matter: for example, a computer programmer needs to be able to programme, a tax consultant will always need to demonstrate a mathematical flair.
But increasingly, it is soft skills – more lateral, personable qualities – that employers are putting greater emphasis on when identifying the strongest candidates. Our research shows that 92% of UK talent professionals say soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills and 35% believe hard skills will become less important in the next five years.
When it comes to these soft skills, according to LinkedIn insights, the top five in-demand qualities UK employers are looking for are creativity, persuasion, adaptability, collaboration, and time management – but they are also the hardest to find. Employers and recruiters are increasingly going out of their way to find them, with 80% now asking specific behavior-related questions during interviews and more than half (58%) looking out for body language and non-verbal cues.
Flexible working: no longer just a perk
Businesses are waking up to the fact that flexible working – the ability to choose where and even when an employee works – is no longer just a perk. In the past, flexible working was often reserved for specific job roles or more senior employees only, but for today’s candidate, it’s something they simply expect.
Our report shows that UK employers recognize the benefit flexible working can have with 84% admitting it can help employees have better work/life satisfaction and 72% agreeing it makes their workforce happier.
However, the challenge is putting flexible working practices into action and making them work practically. Hiring professionals continue to hold reservations about how flexible working impacts the overall workplace dynamic, with 59% concerned about a negative effect on team bonding, two-fifths (40%) how it will hinder effective collaboration, and 38% saying it limits their ability to oversee work.
Pay transparency: it’s all about trust
In the UK, talking about pay in the office has always been a taboo topic. It is often considered rude to talk about one’s remuneration, and even more rude to ask someone else about theirs. This culture has impacted how employers broach the topic.
But while employees appreciate the respect employers have for their privacy, the unwanted side effect is that people end up second guessing how valued they are compared to their colleagues and peers.
That may be why more employers are starting to proactively share salary information. Over two-fifths, (43%) of UK talent professionals said they already share ranges either internally or externally, and 37% make diversity figures available. Those who do share salary ranges cite many benefits – especially when it comes speeding up the hiring process, which 77% say has become more streamlined.
However, barriers still exist to becoming more transparent. By being more public with salary ranges, nearly nine in ten (87%) believe it could create conflict among current employees, while 44% say that it is not common practice and 38% believe it limits their ability to successfully negotiate salaries.
All of these trends are evolving at their own pace: flexibility is widespread is some industries while pay transparency is just now gaining traction. Either way, the workplace dynamic never stands still – what matters today will not necessarily matter tomorrow. As talent professionals, the onus should be on keeping up-to-date and being ready for the future.
About the author: Jon Addison is the Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK.