Going back to work after maternity leave is a daunting prospect for many mums. There’s the inevitable anxiety about leaving your baby, coupled with the worry that you may have forgotten how to do your job, or that things have changed while you’ve been away. On top of that you’ll be balancing your new role as a parent with work responsibilities, and all on very little sleep.
The number of UK mothers in work has reached the highest level in 20 years. Families where both parents work full-time are also on the rise. More than three-quarters of mothers with dependent children are currently in work. So, employers are increasingly working to improve the support they offer for working parents. However, research by Werklabs and SIA has found a considerable gap between parents’ expectations and companies’ offerings. By far, the largest gaps are in making working parents feel included and supported. More than 80% of workers said feeling included is important, but only 43% of managers gave high ratings to their companies’ capabilities in that area.
We spoke to Morson Talent’s Head of bids, Kirsty Hodgson about her return to work this month after becoming a first-time mum this year.
‘Coming back to the office is a little bit overwhelming, but it’s been great to see how well the team are doing. The keeping in touch days have been a brilliant way of getting up to date with my role while testing the waters with nursery.’
Many women report feeling lonely or forgotten while they are on maternity leave. Opportunities for social interaction with colleagues have been particularly valuable for Kirsty, who attended the Morson Half Yearly conference in September.
‘I was so glad that I could go to the Half Yearly – I got to catch up with colleagues and work friends who I haven’t seen in months, without the pressure of jumping straight back into work. I think the social aspect is really important, because you find yourself in a bit of a baby bubble while you’re on maternity.’
Invitations to team days, Christmas dos, awards or other social events in your workplace calendars can help new mums feel connected to their place of work while they are on leave. It can also help to speed up the settling-in process when they return, so it’s a win-win for employers and employees.
On her return to the office Kirsty is planning on working full time, but with compressed hours that will give her a day at home every other week. The freedom to find a new work schedule that fits with family life is something that a lot of new parents struggle with.
‘My husband is a police officer and works shifts, so it’s not going to be possible for him to have regular days working from home that some new dads get. It wasn’t even guaranteed that he would be able to come to the hospital with me for the birth because the nature of his job is so unpredictable. He had the standard two weeks of paternity leave, but that goes by so quickly. I think a lot of dads feel like they miss out on some of those early milestones because they don’t have as many options when it comes to taking leave.’
We have seen a large jump in the number of companies offering enhanced paternity leave in the last few years and this is only set to continue. An enhanced paternity leave offer can make your business more attractive to candidates, and improve retention and morale. It could also be a key factor in addressing the gender pay gap. If this isn’t possible for your company you may also want to consider offering new dads increased flexibility in working hours and location, paid time off to attend appointments or when children are sick, or a buddy system/support network for new parents.
Kirsty’s number one concern about her return to work is that people will have a changed perception of her priorities and work ethic.
‘I do worry that people will think that I’m not as committed to my work when I come back. I’ve seen it happen to friends of mine, there comes a point where one of them has had to decrease their hours because childcare is so expensive. It’s usually the person who earns less, which is usually the woman. So, it looks like women don’t want to work as much once they have kids, but a lot of the time it’s done out of necessity. I am a bit nervous and feeling the pressure to be fully present for my team and not let other people’s ideas about working mums get in the way.’
Supportive cultures benefit everyone
Creating a supportive culture for working parents is also hugely beneficial for employers and even staff who don’t have children. Recognising the importance of work-life balance for all staff and implementing measures that allow them to manage their personal lives, whether they have children or not, boosts productivity and satisfaction. Senior leaders can also set a, example by talking about the ways they manage their work and home lives in a positive way.
‘I know that I can do it, because there are some great role models here at Morson. I’ve seen female colleagues have children, return to work and still be able to progress with their careers. There are also mums and dads across the business who are great at balancing their work and home life.’
Employers who bring empathy and flexibility to their approach to parents returning to the workforce are rewarded with greater productivity, higher levels of retention and boosts to morale. Working parents also have a great source of motivation to do well at work.
‘Seeing my baby smile is just the best feeling. I am a bit sad that this chapter of his life is over, but now I have the best reason to get out of bed and into work – so that I can support him and give him the best life that I can.’
At Morson we care for the personal and professional you. Throughout Morson Group we have a sense of family that is demonstrated in how we think, behave and what we truly value.
Supporting our people and communities is central to who we are and we’re proud to offer ED&I consultancy services that place inclusion at the heart of the conversation. To find out more please get in touch.
Morson Group has joined leading companies from a range of sectors and industries in signing the Inclusive Culture Pledge in 2023, an initiative managed by diversity consultancy EW Group for a 4th consecutive year.
At Morson, we are committed to building inclusive cultures every day. Not only is this good for business, but it’s also the right thing to do. We aim to be a truly 21st-century workforce, where everyone’s talents are welcomed, valued and nurtured.
Jane Farrell and Annie Hedge, two teachers living in London founded EW Group in 1992. They had first-hand knowledge of the barriers many students faced and wanted to be a force for good.
Jane and Annie wanted to bring an inclusive approach to leadership and organisational development. Sharing how the best businesses show real intent to notice, adapt to and embrace difference at work. They believed that organisations would only excel when they fully engaged with diversity in all its forms.
Why make this pledge?
Research has shown that diverse businesses are 35% more likely to financially outperform their industry’s national average. For potential job hunters, 67% now consider a diverse workforce an important factor when considering job offers.
By signing up for the Pledge, we will have exclusive access to DEI experts and thought leaders.
Joining the pledge is a public commitment that we take diversity and inclusion seriously and that we understand the need to provide employees with a safe, fair and supportive place to work.
We’re looking forward to the events provided as part of the Pledge, which will further enhance our internal capacity and ensure we work at the cutting edge of diversity and inclusion. This is an initiative that we believe will benefit our staff, customers and stakeholders.
Sam Price, Morson ED&I lead explains
Signing the Inclusive Culture Pledge for another year empowers our mission to deliver industry-wide cultural change to diversify the talent landscape and ensure that recruitment, retention and growth are placing inclusion first. We’re committed to transforming the talent landscape by encouraging our clients and ourselves to look at every step of the candidate and colleague experience through the lens of equality, diversity and inclusivity. At Morson, recruitment is more than filling roles. It’s transforming businesses, fuelling industry and innovation, creating fulfilling careers, encouraging the next generation, and opening the world of work for all. In 2023, we’ll expand our calendar of engagement via our colleague and diversity board focusing on age, race, LGBTQ+, religion and disability inclusion.
If you want to encourage more diversity within your organisation, we can help. Our ED&I consultancy services help clients attract diverse talent to their organisation, improve or create inclusive cultures and identify barriers to inclusion in the recruitment process.
Director of the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford, Dr Maria Stukoff has written an article for We Are Tech Women highlighting the importance of partnerships like Morson’s STEM programme with the University of Salford for tackling skills shortages and improving the STEM gender gap.
The link between skills shortages and underrepresentation of women in tech
The ways that academic institutions can partner with businesses to benefit both students and employers
The relationship between Morson Group and the University of Salford
Education and business partnerships
Technology is transforming the 4th industrial revolution and educational institutions often struggle to keep up with integrating new technologies. There has been a boom in maker spaces at universities recently. Stukoff believes that this demonstrates that they are seeking new approaches to ensure students acquire industry-relevant skills.
Stukoff emphasises the importance of partnerships between universities and businesses in developing the skills employers are looking for.
“Morson has provided the core funding for the University of Salford’s state-of-the-art maker space, with a STEM programme that provides students with opportunities to acquire future-fit skills with equipment they will use in the workplace once they graduate. The maker space supports everything from additive manufacturing, metal printing and CNC machining, through to delicate microscopic instrumentation and electronics, folding or laser cutting paper and farm robotics.”
The partnership encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and is helping the university to break down stereotypes and barriers to entry. Stukoff attributes this to Morson’s knowledge of ED&I recruitment best practise. This has informed the industry talks, workshops, career sessions and placement opportunities we have provided to the university. She also discusses our contribution to the university’s Women in Engineering- Go Beyond mentoring programme and the IntoUniversity new learning centre.
It’s an honour to be featured and have the work we are doing recognised, but more importantly, it is wonderful to know that our partnership with the University of Salford is truly making a difference to its students.
In our Summer 22 Labour Trends Report we reported that, for the first time since records began, vacancies across the UK outstripped the number of people seeking work, creating an incredibly tight labour market. Since then, the British economy has officially entered a recession, public sector workers in several industries are on strike, rising levels of people are exiting the workforce and hiring is slowing. As we reach the close of this turbulent year, we consider the impact these conditions have had on the labour market and make our predictions on the 2023 talent trends which will affect UK organisations.
2022 in review
2022 recruitment trend summary:
Global staffing market revenue is predicted to have grown by 11% in 2022, down from a staggering 23% in 2021. More modest global growth is expected in 2023, with 5% in the UK (SIA)
UK staffing firms to exceed pre-pandemic revenue for the first time with 22% growth in 2022. Profit margins are set to decrease as staffing becomes costlier due to aspects such as rate rises. (SIA)
Hiring activity waned at the start of the fourth quarter, the number of permanent placements fell for the first time in 20 months. Heightened economic uncertainty had led some clients to reassess their recruitment plans, while candidate shortages also dampened hiring. (REC Report on Jobs)
A new £4.2bn contract has been awarded to BAE Systems, to build the second batch of Type 26 frigates creating 2,300 new jobs.
Tight labour market conditions, fewer foreign workers and greater hesitancy due to economic uncertainty all dampened candidate numbers. However, the latest fall was the weakest recorded for just over 18 months amid softer declines in both permanent and temporary staff supply.
Employment rate up, but still below pre-Covid levels
The UK employment rate for August to October 2022 increased by 0.2 percentage points to 75.6% but is still below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.
Over the latest three-month period, the number of employees increased, while self-employed workers decreased. Estimates of payrolled employees for November 2022 show another monthly increase, up 107,000 on the revised October 2022 figures, to a record 29.9 million.
At least some of these increases will be due to seasonal work and temporary contracts over the festive period. So we may see a dip in these numbers in the new year.
From September to November 2022, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 65,000 on the quarter to 1,187,000. Despite five consecutive quarterly falls, the number of vacancies remains at historically high levels. The fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries, as respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment.
Unemployment up slightly
The number of people unemployed for up to six months has increased across all age groups. However, the unemployment rate is still at very low levels and has decreased overall this year.
Economic inactivity down, but still above pre-pandemic rates
The economic inactivity rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 21.5% in August to October 2022. The decrease in economic inactivity during the latest three-month period was driven by those aged 50 to 64 years. This suggests that some people who had taken early retirement during or shortly after Covid have returned to the workforce, most likely as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
Flexible working is the priority for the over-50s. The majority (77%) of over-50s who would consider returning to work cited flexible working (36%) as the most important aspect of choosing a new job. The majority of those who would consider returning to work or currently looking for work would like to return on a part-time basis (69%)
Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses) among employees stayed the same, at 6.1% from August to October 2022. For regular pay, this is the strongest growth rate seen outside of the pandemic period.
In real terms (adjusted for inflation) over the year, total and regular pay both fell by 2.7%. This is slightly smaller than the record fall in real regular pay we saw in April to June 2022 (3.0%) but still remains among the largest falls in growth since comparable records began in 2001.
Over the last 12 months, we have continued to see higher levels of bonus payments compared with previous bonus levels, particularly in March 2022 when the non-seasonally adjusted bonus payment was extremely strong. The largest bonus payments are in the finance and business services sector.
Private sector outstrips public in terms of pay
Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 6.9% in August to October 2022, and 2.7% for the public sector. Outside of the height of the pandemic period, this is the largest growth rate seen for the private sector and is among the largest differences between the private sector and public sector growth rates we have seen.
There were 417,000 working days lost because of labour disputes in October 2022, which is the highest since November 2011.
Gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen by 0.6% in September 2022, driven by a fall in the services sector. Reasons include; price of energy and fuel, industrial action, currency exchange, additional bank holiday. (ONS – Office for National Statistics)
Predictions for 2023
Flexible working is here to stay
LinkedIn data shows more than a third of workers say they would quit if they had to return to the office full-time. Research by Future Forum found 65% of UK knowledge workers want significant flexibility in their work schedule.
New government plans mean that employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment.
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office. It can mean employees job-sharing, using flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
These new measures will give employees greater control over where, when, and how they work, leading to happier, more productive staff. Flexible working helps employees to balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people.
Minister for Small Business Kevin Hollinrake had this to say:
“Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses. Put simply, it’s a no-brainer.
Greater flexibility over where, when, and how people work is an integral part of our plan to make the UK the best place in the world to work.”
Whereas James Dyson was not as keen on the idea
“Flexible working does not suit all businesses and only time will tell what its effects will be on efficiency, cohesion within the workforce, company ethos and, ultimately, the success of businesses.”
Faith-based inclusion to become a priority
The importance of faith-based inclusion has long been recognised, but there’s still a long road to travel for employers to reach this destination. Research in the UK suggests Muslims face some of the highest levels of job discrimination.
Employees are looking for employers to ‘get’ the importance faith plays in both their personal and professional lives. In the UK, 91% of HR managers thought their organisation promoted an understanding of diversity and inclusion on religion and belief, but only 25% of workers agreed this was the case.
Religious diversity has many benefits to creating an engaged, productive and inspired workforce. If employees feel confident to undertake the practices that are important to their faith without fear of discrimination, employers will get the best from them in return.
Effective support for menopausal women could be the key to keeping these valuable and skilled workers in the talent pool. The Bank of Ireland announced in October that it would offer paid leave for women experiencing menopause. We’re expecting to see other large employers follow suit.
More diverse routes into the workforce
University fees are incredibly expensive and that’s before you get to the living costs like accommodation, travel and textbooks. On top of that, graduates are facing an unemployment rate of 12%. That equates to about 96,000 unemployed graduates every academic year). That’s compared to September 2022’s UK overall unemployment rate of 3.6%.
As a result, many young people are looking “learn while they earn”. Avenues such as apprenticeships, part-time study while they work or employer training are expected to become increasingly popular. Many employers will reap the benefit of offering training to staff, when it comes to attracting and retaining new talent. At Morson, we are funding a new STEM centre and multiple scholarships at the University of Salford.
Work-based socialising is evolving
Instigating social interaction in a hybrid work environment is a challenge many businesses are still struggling with. Some companies have begun to schedule in short meetings with no agenda. Others are leaving time at the end of meetings for open conversations. Some are creating virtual team rooms where colleagues can chat throughout the day. There is no one size fits all approach, but creating opportunities for colleagues to bond will have a huge impact on job satisfaction levels.
“Firms that stay ahead in hybrid will be intentional about how they use the virtual office – and be sure to schedule time for informal interactions – not just for the water cooler chat but also for learning.”
– Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School
Embracing the metaverse
A recent YouGov poll found that only 37% of Brits are confident in describing what the metaverse is. However, VR and AR are already being used by pilots and surgeons in training. During the pandemic, automakers began to embrace this tech to design new vehicles. Whether we fully understand it or not, we’re expecting employers, universities and training programmes to jump into the metaverse in the coming year.
Uncertainty may come with opportunity
It’s been a turbulent 12 months and while things may look uncertain for 2023, there are opportunities to be had. The great resignation has become the great reflection as candidates are considering what really matters to them. Many are looking for employers that share their values. Employees that feel a shared sense of purpose with the company they work for are less likely to job-hop. Working on your employer value proposition could help you attract and retain talent.
We have seen a slight decrease in the rate of economic inactivity. This may lead to new pools of talent emerging, as skilled workers come out of retirement and embrace new opportunities for flexible working.
Whatever the future may hold Morson is here to support you to attract, retain and develop the best talent. As a Morson client we listen, identify opportunities and curate solutions that are designed for you. Our solutions are for organisations seeking to enhance their capability, who need flexible, adaptable solutions to help scale, brand-led strategies to inspire, screening solutions to comply, ED&I insight to transform, training to develop or technology to streamline and accelerate. We offer a depth and agility that is unique to the Morson Group.
Morson has been recognised and celebrated for its global growth success by taking home the award for ‘Growth in New Markets’ at the Insider International Trade Awards 2022! This prestigious award celebrates the company that has made the most impressive debut in a new market this year.
“I’m delighted to receive this recognition on an international trade basis. Throughout our history, we’ve completed over 15 acquisitions to extend our footprint overseas, in locations such as Canada, the USA, Italy and now Australia. A big thank you both my teams within the business who have worked hard in supporting our growth, as well as our external partners on acquisitions, Beyond Corporate LLP, Deloitte LLP, Barclays. As we have seen with ACRWORLD, as a business we are always looking for strategic growth opportunities, both organic and through acquisitions in new geographies with culturally aligned companies.”
Adrian Adair, our COO, had worked with ACRWORLD’s director, Dave Deemer, in a previous role. When COVID-19 hit the UK, we reacted with an agile response that saw the Group evolve into a consultancy service. We supported our clients in managing remote teams of workers. Seeking a similar type of support, the directors of ACRWORLD reached out to Morson, and we helped devise a strategy for its diverse business continuity.
Having built their organisation successfully even through the most challenging of years, ACRWORLD opted to sell the business. They went out to market but, based on previous experience, engaged our Board in discussions. It quickly became clear that our two businesses aligned perfectly in terms of culture, values and process. We held all discussions remotely, to make the process as sustainable as possible, and Adrian flew out to meet the team once the deal was agreed.
Our award submission highlighted the fact that ACRWORLD and Morson are both people businesses, with strategies that put colleagues, clients and suppliers first. ACRWORLD noticed how our MSP and RPO offerings, as well as our proprietary software, would add immense value to what it already offered.
For example, ACRWORLD have already integrated Vencuro – our business intelligence tool – as a way of using people data and insights to help the business gain a competitive advantage in its sectors.
Additionally, Fit for Work, which Morson built in partnership with technology and AI specialists, improves the health, safety and well-being of ACRWORLD contractors working on-site. Initially, workers on Melbourne Metro used the app to ensure they were carrying compliant PPE. But, by assessing whether contractors were suffering from COVID-19, the app supported frontline workers keeping networks running during multiple lockdowns. Today, Fit For Work’s facial recognition technology allows senior leaders to identify which and how many workers are on-site for health, safety and well-being purposes.
Completing the deal
As we completed the deal with ACRWORLD in full in spring 2022, the expansion process is still fairly new. However, big inroads are already being made.
Three of ACRWORLD’s clients are already utilising Morson’s RPO1 service, with contracts for the service turned around incredibly quickly. It was essential to demonstrate we can work in an agile fashion to migrate clients into our service provisions. ACRWORLD were able to immediately promote the benefits of our partnership to its client base.
Our technologies, Vencuro and Fit for Work, have been received incredibly well. We are proud to have brought such innovations to Australian shores. Data insights into recruitment patterns and trends are highly sought after in Australia. Vencuro is already providing ACRWORLD with a competitive edge by creating greater understanding of markets and future talent opportunities. Likewise, health, safety and well-being are essential for working in Australia. Fit for Work has quickly elevated basic expectations of compliance and is a value that both organisations prioritise.
While it is the early days of our presence in Australia, we’ve never before had such a successful take-up of services and products in such a short space of time. It shows there is a huge demand for what we offer and provides reassurance that the future is lucrative. We are thrilled to see that our hard work in Australia is being recognised by this award nomination. Morson is incredibly proud of the progress we have made.
Learn more about our RPO and MSP models that have made such an impact in Australia.