With recruitment volumes for the previous quarter lower than we have historically covered, Marie David-Cavaz and I have dedicated our time to gauging market sentiment and conducting numerous virtual networking circles and one-to-one meetings with HR leaders across the German FSPS sector. Our hope is that we can adequately gauge the wants and needs of the market in a post-Covid working environment and help to play a role in the furtherance of the ‘new normal’ agenda for the country and sector.
The conversations we have had have been myriad and interesting throughout, however there were a few key themes that reoccurred throughout, which I would like to highlight.
Return to Work
At this present time, the minds of many HR leaders are turned towards a phased return to work and what this may look like in the long term – How many do we try to get back into the office and when? How long will we take to return to full capacity? Will we ever return to full capacity and if not, how many will we now expect to come in? It’s a minefield of questions and there are as many approaches being taken as there are firms at the moment, but the general consensus seems to be that 2020 requires a careful hand and into 2021 and beyond a new working agreement needs to be found where everyone who is able, is offered a balanced working arrangement that includes some home office allowance on a weekly basis.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Another very common topic in our discussions. The past few months have been a strain for everyone, impacting all areas of peoples lives. It is a difficult challenge to monitor the mental health and wellbeing of your employees on a 100% remote basis, with many not being comfortable sharing issues impacting them with work colleagues unless prompted, and even then it is not easy to build a level of trust that allows for such openness. Though personal life is not directly correlated to work life, still it can have a dramatic impact upon it, and firms must continue to focus on how best they can address the mental health needs of their workforce in a way that is inclusive and acceptable to as many as possible.
One means through which some firms have been tackling this is the use of external specialists who are trained on how to help people with problems, be they psychological, physical or otherwise. As mentioned above, it can be very difficult for internal mental health advocates to built a requisite level of trust with employees – many find that to discuss something internally, particularly with someone they may know already, is not possible or helpful, fearing judgement or some blow-back. This can be circumvented by utilising external an external provider, enabling employees with issues to connect directly to a trained specialist who they can trust has no overt connection to the firm, therefore mitigating this concern. As with the return to work, many firms are approaching this differently and I’d be keen to discuss what approach you may be using.
The topic of diversity, whilst always a key target for the FSPS sector, has taken on a renewed level of focus in this time. Not only for the BLM protests, but also for the damage to gender diversity that the virus may have caused. Some people have experienced a reversion to gender norm stereotypes, with kids off long-term and some mothers needing to alter their work style to support their families. Firms are keen to ensure that this not undo all the hard work of the past number of years, but it requires vigilance on and support for those affected to maintain the status quo and push us further along the course of the agenda.
This list is by no means exhaustive, we’ve discussed all manner of topics. If you’d like to sit down for a ‘virtual coffee’ with myself or one of the team, just reach out and we’d be happy to discuss in more detail and perhaps connect you with peers in the industry who share similar topics. More than ever, the most important tool in HR’s arsenal is a professional network working together.