Candidates want more than just flexible working

Candidates want more than just flexible working

Let's not mince words – the pandemic was extremely disruptive.

28 July 2021

Let's not mince words – the pandemic was extremely disruptive. Overnight, we were all working from home in what was the biggest application of contingency planning in work-based history. What was so surprising is that it worked so well and for so long, thanks to technology.

Our lives have changed beyond recognition. Parents are spending more time with their children and saving on childcare costs. They have the flexibility to take their kids to school and look after them when they come home for lunch.

Our living options have improved. We are no longer constrained by where we live because we don’t need to commute. We could live in the mountains hundreds of kilometres away from Switzerland’s largest cities and still be able to work. 

Flexible working is rapidly becoming the norm

We can now decide when, where and how we want to work. And, for many this is extremely empowering. Although there are some who would prefer to be in the office full-time, many of us want at least a bit of flexibility to choose how they work. What this means is that they don’t want to work completely remotely. Most would like to have a two-thirds split between working at home and in the office.

This is worth noting if you are trying to recruit talent. It is already having a big effect on what candidates are demanding for their next role. Most companies in Switzerland are listening and changing what they offer to top talent. But even here, it's not enough to secure those candidates that you really want.

There's always been a shortage of talent in Switzerland. But now that is set to get even bigger. As we leave the pandemic behind us, the Swiss economy is poised to experience a robust economic recovery. Economists expect Switzerland to achieve levels of economic growth that have not been experienced in decades. 

The IMF expects Switzerland to achieve 3.5% growth in 2021, reversing the 2.9% contraction experienced in 2020. Subsequently, Swiss companies are scrambling to hire talent ahead of this recovery.

Getting candidates to say yes is the real challenge

This is what I'm seeing first-hand as a recruiter. We are finding brilliant candidates. We are having great conversations with them. But many of them are not yet ready to move. Many still feel there is still a lot of uncertainty due to the pandemic. 

The other issue is that candidates who are willing to move are receiving multiple offers from top-tier companies due to the huge rise in demand for talent. Subsequently, this means that they will be forced to reject some brilliant job offers because they can only accept one. 

So, how can Swiss companies get an edge?

I’m going to be brutally honest. Offering flexible working arrangements should be a bare minimum of what should be in a job package. 

In every candidate meeting I’ve had this year, flexible working has almost always been enquired about. In many instances, this is the topic that comes up even before salaries are discussed. It’s intriguing and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Here are some tips on what you can offer to get an edge.

1. Offer the opportunity to grow

Climbing the learning curve and setting sights on the mountaintop of career success should not be underestimated. In many instances it can become a deciding factor when candidates have to make a choice. They will often think about where their career will lead them if they join a new company. 

So, offer them just that. It demonstrates that you are willing to invest in their talent and it will do your employer brand the world of good.

2. Stock options and equity

Turn employees into owners of the company they work for. There are two benefits with this approach. It shows candidates that you want them to be part of the company and not just someone who works for it. It demonstrates commitment and shows you want them to be part of the firm’s success story. It also offers ownership and responsibility to an employee from the first day they join.

3. Retirement benefits, life insurance and wellness programmes

A great pension scheme is an attractive pull, especially for more senior employees. Life insurance, for instance critical illness cover, is also an attractive option for someone who is the breadwinner for their family. There are also wellness programmes, where careful attention is paid to an employee's well-being. This can be as simple as giving employees a Fitbit to monitor their health. Other options are healthy snacks, gym memberships, yoga classes and athletic gear reimbursements.

The point here is that you need to be creative. Rather than questioning why candidates are rejecting offers, we should be focusing on what will make them say yes. Offer them something more than just flexible working.