The word diversity can mean many different things, culturally and within the workplace. It is something that we hear being frequently discussed in the media across all sectors.
Diversity in the workplace operates in two different dimensions; the first being the workplace demographic and the second being diversity in workplace arrangement, the rise of remote working and freelance/consulting roles.
In 2014, we saw global business KPMG release figures that told the world their workforce wasn’t as diverse as they wanted it to be. The firm released various targets to recruit and develop its workforce accordingly, which was an honest step towards changing how companies address the issue.
I do believe large companies should follow suit, and in turn make workforces as diverse as possible, attracting talent across all genders, races and ages. We have to be aware however that this means recruiting and attracting talented staff for a valid purpose and not just to fit a quota.
We recently worked with Futurologist David Smith and the Professor of Management practice at London Business School, Lynda Gratton, and her research consulting team ‘The Hotspot Movement’. Within the resulting BrightHR ‘A Future That Works’ report, together we identified diversity as an important issue for businesses to embrace this year and beyond.
Statistics from HR Review have revealed by 2020, 36 per cent of the UK population will be aged over 50 and by 2028, a quarter of UK employees could be working until they are 70. What this tells us is that a brilliant mix of generations will be working alongside each other and must be able to communicate effectively.
A young graduate or school leaver starting in any profession will have completely different technological skills, educational backgrounds and knowledge to someone who begun their career 50 years ago. It is important for employers especially to take steps to integrate the two and ensure they will learn from and inspire each other.
Taking this into consideration, many businesses may benefit from reverse mentoring schemes which allow younger workers to mentor their older or more senior colleagues.
Mentoring schemes allow the sharing of knowledge to flourish, with both sides often learning more than they would expect about technical skills, business outlook, relationship building and communication skills.
Relish the freelance revolution
Across many sectors, firms have witnessed the rise of freelancers and consultant positions to either support or add to a workforce. Statistics from ONS support this, with 4.55 million Britons currently freelancing, representing 14 per cent of the total UK workforce of over 30 million.
Talented graduates now see the benefits of opting to go freelance, and companies therefore may need to adjust the ratio of permanently employed staff. This shouldn’t be detrimental to a business however, as freelancers provide companies with the option to employ someone for a certain period of time if they have the expertise needed.
Companies should see employing talented freelancers as a great opportunity to relish the flexibility it gives for them and clients alike.
Recognising the future changes of technology can also help to support diverse workforces and people. Businesses should invest in technology that assists communication and development between workers, such as social tools, HR technology or data analytics tools.
For example, we surveyed 100 accountants of which 62 per cent said the burden of HR compliance for their clients is heavier now than it was five years ago.
The advantages of investing in such tools not only simplifies processes within the workplace, but it also encourages employees to communicate more, making it easier to include freelancers in collaborative work whilst maintaining control.
The tools also help to free up time for employees to spend on their core work which drives business growth and profit.
By Paul Tooth, co-founder and CEO, BrightHR