• Is hybrid working falling out of favour with employees? HR Barometer Report outlines some key findings from employer survey

    As the Government advises businesses to move to remote working again, new research¹ from Adare Human Resource Management reveals that employer enthusiasm for hybrid working has decreased since the phased reopening of workplaces began in September.

    The latest HR Barometer Report reveals that only one third of employers (32%) excluding retail and wholesale sectors believe hybrid working will benefit their organisation. This compares to over three quarters (76.8%) in their March HR Barometer Report.

    The survey also highlights the slow progress being made on addressing diversity and inclusion as well as the ongoing gender pay gap that persists in many workplaces. Employers are warned that continued inaction on these matters could prove costly as recruitment and talent acquisition, along with retention, remain businesses’ top priorities (67% and 65%) heading into 2022.

    The latest HR Barometer Report highlights some significant HR challenges facing employers into 2022 which, if addressed, could be of substantial benefit to organisations. Obviously, hybrid working won’t necessarily be a blanket decision for all employers as it suits certain roles and sectors more than others. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of their business, most retail and wholesale employers surveyed (89%) don’t see companywide benefits. However, the fall in support from other employers is surprising, especially in the professional services sector where over two thirds of employers expressed reservations.

    With remote and hybrid working receiving the full support of Government through the publication of the National Remote Working Strategy and Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect, flexible working practices are here to stay for Ireland’s employers. Many embraced it enthusiastically during lockdown as the ideal way to get back to the office. However, as hybrid models are put in to practice it’s not surprising that there are a few issues. But there are ways to make it more effective for the business. Now is a great opportunity for employers to review what has happened in their workplaces over the past few months and with clear communication with their employees adapt their model so it works for all.

    It also appears that there is significant room for improvement amongst employers around diversity and inclusion. According to the HR Barometer Report, the wider adoption of diversity and inclusion practices by Ireland’s employers appears to have stalled. One third of employers surveyed have no diversity and inclusion policy in place, a level that is unchanged from the September 2020 report.

    Employers’ obligations under the Employment Equality Act, 1998 – 2015, are very clear. Organisations should ensure that they have the appropriate diversity and inclusion policies and training in place to protect themselves from any issues arising. Finding oneself in front of Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) without such a policy could further aggravate matters for employers, as well as negatively impacting the company’s reputation given WRC hearings are now held in public.

    Eliminating the gender pay gap is another important area where further progress is still needed according to the latest HR Barometer Report. It is concerning that just one in ten companies (11%) is monitoring the matter given gender pay gap reporting is coming. An important aspect of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill, 2019, is the requirement for employers to provide a narrative to support their reporting, including initiatives that they are planning to address any disparities.

    Ignorance will not be a defence for employers who are found to have gender pay gaps that they haven’t begun to address. Furthermore, at a time when staff retention is proving such a challenge to companies, it could have serious and long-term repercussions in terms of staff turnover as well as recruitment considering the potential reputational damage.

    Some 85% of the organisations surveyed are not monitoring the gender pay gap, which is very high. Of these one in four don’t know how they compare to the national average of 14.4%, while half believe the gender pay gap in their organisation is higher or at least equal. It is the best interest of employers, as well as affected staff, that organisations start tackling this matter now, and demonstrate a genuine commitment to abolishing any differences once and for all.

    Still on the topic of pay, the HR Barometer Report confirms that the talent war looks set to continue well into 2022. Three out of four organisations surveyed are increasing salaries this year, up from 41% earlier in the March 2021 HR Barometer Report with an average increase of 3.9%. Already half are planning increases next year also with a predicted average increase of 3.7%. Meanwhile employee turnover in 2022 is expected to rise marginally to 10% next year, compared with an anticipated 7.5% for 2021.

    The pandemic has presented serious challenges to employers which most have worked hard to address. It is clear from this HR Barometer Report that 2022 will be another challenging year. However, unlike with the pandemic, employers have more control over many of the issues they are facing – especially in the areas of flexible working, diversity and inclusion, and the gender pay gap. Addressing them in a meaningful way offers some ‘easy wins’, as well as avoiding significant HR and financial headaches, and potentially significant damage to their reputation.

    The HR Barometer Report is available on Linea, Adare Human Resource Management’s comprehensive online resource for HR Practitioners. If you would like access to Linea, please contact the team.

    Adare Human Resource Management is a team of expert-led Employment Law, Industrial Relations and best practice Human Resource Management consultants. For more information contact adarechambers@adarehrm.ie, go to www.adarehrm.ie or call (01) 561 3594.

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