Hiring Leadership level professionals in a Hybrid world.

If you are recruiting senior team members into a hybrid or remote structure for the first time – read on. We have compiled our thoughts and those from our own clients, and provided practical tips to assist you with a smooth transition.

A better balance

Hybrid and remote working patterns have had a profoundly positive impact for employees, who have possibly for the first time benefited from a more flexible routine that better serves their work and life balance. It is an exciting time all round for team building that is invariably laced with an element of caution – particularly for you in the hiring seat. If your company has adapted to offer flexible working, such as a hybrid of home and office, or a complete shift to remote working, you are probably facing a new kind of challenge when it comes to recruiting the right people for your roles.

A recent study by Acas found that over half (55%) of employers expect an increase in their staff working from home at least part of the time. It’s an element of life that has become highly coveted, so much so that one in four would sacrifice nearly £2000 a year in wages to keep working flexibly.

A global talent pool

The world has now literally opened up for many companies and candidates alike. Remote working allows the hiring process to span a talent pool across the globe and in return, candidates can apply for positions way beyond their geographical radius.

Hiring a senior position into a flexible working environment, however, might bring a different set of concerns to either side of the virtual table. Bringing a decision maker into the company, one who might lead teams, who really needs to get a feel for the inner workings of the company – can this be done effectively?

The current situation

We have spoken to several of our clients who are regularly responsible for hiring senior team members, about the positives and challenges surrounding a hybrid or remote working structure.

A new working model undoubtedly highlights a company’s strengths and weaknesses, and can hold a mirror up to the amount of trust that a company and employee reflect on one another.

Ksenia Anikina, Director at KA Human Capital and Board Advisor agrees.

Ksenia agrees...

Some CEOs may still prefer to see people in the office on a daily basis. It could be that these types of firms may struggle to attract the diverse top quality talent and build high performing teams in the new context.

Ksenia Anikina, Director, KA Human Capital

In an article that we published this year, we touched upon the taboo subject of trust within an organisation, as well as the feeling that a working model that falls outside of the traditional 9-5 could create a domino effect of changes that push levels of comfort and familiarity – ones that underpinned pre-Covid work culture for many businesses.

For some senior staff, a hybrid working pattern could be as simple as a one-day reduction in their office presence.

Considering flexibility

Victoria Boxhall-Hunt, Group Operations Director at Marcol says that: “People want some flexibility, but senior new roles are very keen to be in the offices, getting to know their direct reports and teams. Monday to Thursday tends to be busy in the office, with Friday being a quieter day”.

This is a simple, yet effective working pattern that could be very stabilising for company and recruit alike. But what would it mean for the more junior members of a team needing and wanting regular contact time with their seniors? Victoria explains that: “More junior team members that are starting in a company need and want access to the seniors to get stuff done, and are looking for new ways of getting in front of people.

“We are considering a mentoring program of sorts to help give access more readily and in a less transactional way”.

Building culture

Taking a closer look at the true working pattern of senior leader, it could be that they are already in a hybrid capacity, minus the new name tag. One of our clients that we consulted with agrees, stating that: “The candidates we interact with understand that at senior levels they need to be present in the office to build company culture, hire, train and retain junior team members.

That said, they have a level of autonomy that the junior team members often don’t have, so they usually manage their own diaries and as a result work on a hybrid basis”.

Hybrid and remote working positions are becoming much more readily available to applicants of varying levels, rather than flexibility away from the office being ‘earned’ over time. The Office for National Statistics found that 85% of staff that are currently remote would prefer to return to a hybrid solution.

Our tips for success

If you are reading this and wondering how you can adapt your policies and ways of working to attract and ultimately make senior hires, here are our top 5 tips to consider based on our findings :

1. Form a hybrid working policy

If there isn’t a formal hybrid working policy in place, Acas has some great advice on how to form a policy that will serve the company, create constructive boundaries and give clear guidance to support team members of all levels.

2. Structured time

Different ways to connect junior and senior. As Victoria’s thoughts summarise above, a committed mentorship and focussed, regular time slots between senior and junior team members might yield a stronger connection than a more informal type of passive office communication. There is some useful further reading here.

3. Suitable tech

A barrier to effective hybrid or remote working, could be the employee tech kit – particularly if your company is new to working flexibly. Naturally, the level of complexity required to perform a job (think laptop for a Director hopping between meetings, versus a multi-monitor setup for an IT engineer).

4. Consider ‘core hours’

If you are considering hiring in different time zones for the first time, think about the need for ‘core hours’ that could be important for team members of all levels, so that they can communicate, sit in meetings and generally have an element of crossover. Obviously, the more diverse the time zones, the more of a challenge this may be.

5. Upgrade your interviews

Working flexibly, or on a remote basis, requires attributes and aptitude that could fall beyond the job description. From first round skills tests to case studies and leadership capability assessments, a rounded and engaging interview technique will help to deepen the level of understanding around a senior candidate’s characteristics.

The future is now

Desired by many for a long time, the era of flexible working is very much upon us. Whilst it may have been thrust upon you unexpectedly, leaving you feeling unprepared, making a flexible working plan for your senior workforce – that will also benefit the juniors of your industry – is imperative.

It isn’t difficult to understand why giving your workforce more flexibility leads to greater happiness overall – and it is this greater level of contentment that leads to better retention. The most important thing to do now is to find sensible and manageable new working patterns that are truly sustainable for your company and your people.

Ultimately, this shouldn’t be too much of a culture shock to your existing senior workforce. As we have already discussed, most senior people already have a level of hybrid about them, tending to have a more flexible diary, working in different locations to suit their specific role.

In making your plans, you will be setting an example as an industry leader who is at the forefront of flexible working whilst continuing to promote progression and wellbeing.

Fantastic senior talent is out there right now searching for their next opportunity, and if you can’t offer the same flexibility that is now so readily available elsewhere, you could lose out.

Get in touch

If you feel like you could do with a helping hand as you navigate the foundations of hiring into a new structure, our team can happily assist.

Contact us today to talk through any of the points raised and discussed here and how we can help you build a strategy for success.

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