Nearly half of British business leaders fear losing the UK’s best talent abroad

businessMovePlan in partnership with Hanson Search, claims that 40 percent of business leaders fear that the combination of the pandemic and Brexit will see their best talent disappear abroad, making hiring more challenging, just as the country begins to return to the ‘new normal’.

In addition to business leaders, 29 percent of respondents at mid- and junior-level also felt pessimistic about the UK’s chances to compete for the best talent and attract global businesses post Brexit.

The results, which were announced as part of MovePlan and Hanson Search’s Future of the Workplace survey, which polled over 1,100 respondents (senior executives as well as employees), suggest a new battle on UK employers’ hands; that of developing and offering the most enticing working environments in order to retain and attract the best talent.


Complex decisions on the horizon

The complexity of the decisions facing leadership as they define the next era of the workplace is illustrated in the research findings. Worries over job security saw 27 percent of employees saying that they would remain in their current role for as long as possible, 24 percent would prioritise working in a large, international firm that can look after them in turbulent times, while at the same time, 27 percent want to work for a small-medium sized firm where they feel they “are more than just a number”, and one in five (21 percent) want to find a way of becoming their own boss or going freelance.

When asked separately about their experience working from home, 34% of employees and 30% employers said they questioned whether their current career was right for them at all, and are considering alternative paths. This polarisation of opinion when it comes to employee motivation highlights that the “one-size approach” does not fit all. Instead, leaders of all sized companies remain faced with complex decisions as they seek to create a workplace that works for everybody.


Competitive salaries out; culture in

Career paths were re-evaluated during the pandemic with many employees reconsidering their motivations behind job choices. When asked to rate the most important elements of a job package, a competitive salary and bonus structure have fallen down the list of priorities. Instead, 45 percent ranked team, people and culture as most important, followed by flexible working (39 percent). ‘Purpose, vision and values’, ‘social responsibility’, ‘contributing to the greater good’ and ‘diversity and inclusion’ also repeatedly appeared unprompted from respondents in the comments section.

When asked what motivates the decisions of senior executives and business owners, 76 percent said they would prioritise employee wellbeing over financial and commercial concerns (46 percent). While employers have recognised the importance of prioritising employee wellbeing, the challenge is to determine a clear path forward that embraces the learnings from the pandemic and prioritises flexibility, yet remains fit for purpose and true to the identity of the business.


Creating a workplace of choice

The Future of the Workplace research also establishes that flexible working has become a basic expectation and is no longer viewed as a nice-to-have. Indeed, 66 percent of employees and senior executives want to split their time between home and the office, with some wishing to define their working location on a weekly basis (41 percent of senior execs and 38 percent of employees). Just 3 percent of employees would work from an office full time and 14 percent would work from home indefinitely.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It is imperative that the role of the workplace is rethought and made fit for purpose”[/perfectpullquote]

Cathy Ridley, Chairwoman and Founder of MovePlan comments: “The way business leaders manage change and implement sustainable working practices has never been more multi-dimensional or complex. We are undoubtedly on the precipice of a new era of workplace culture, collaboration, inclusivity and productivity and as a result, it is imperative that the role of the workplace is rethought and made fit for purpose. Creating a working environment that is true to today’s employee requirements and priorities, whilst also ensuring the ingredients are in place to grow, innovate and build the best team environment, is the most important job this generation of business leaders will have.”

Alice Weightman, founder of Hanson Search, added: “Businesses are facing an unprecedented set of challenges and at the centre of their thinking is company culture, community and employee wellbeing. The creation of new working practices that are practical and inclusive, as well as offering an inspiring vision for the future is no easy task to navigate, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most important issues on the business agenda today. With the war on talent heating up and a noticeable shortage of skills across industry sectors, those that get it right, will be at an advantage. Businesses that move in step with their employees and create an environment where learning, diversity of thought and approach is celebrated rather than stifled, will be on the front foot of attracting the best talent for the future.”

Image by Brian Merrill