Key Trends in the Civilian Workplace
Key Trends in the Civilian Workplace

How the Pandemic is Impacting the civilian workplace

The pandemic is shifting the way we work, and the civilian workplace is embracing these changes.  Former Army Major Laura Blair, now Director of Employment at the OA, summarises the current trends.

There has been a seismic shift for businesses worldwide in ways no one could have anticipated.  Remote working has become the norm and the implementation of new technology is moving at a pace.  What does this mean for your move into civilian employment?

Remote working is here to stay

Organisations were forced to move their workforces to home working during the Pandemic and found that overall, productivity increased, and staff were happier despite juggling work, home and childcare.  As a result, flexible work patterns and work-from-home policies are here to stay.

In March this year, global consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers announced changes to allow greater flexibility for post-pandemic working for its 22,000 employees.  PwC chairman Kevin Ellis said he hoped this would make flexible working “the norm rather than the exception”.

Organisations are developing ‘hybrid’ working models and being open about it – witness BP Oil, Santander and Nationwide’s recent statements. Future work patterns will likely include elements of both working at home with trips to the office.

Geography is no longer a constraint

With the move to remote working led by the adoption of new technologies, companies can now access talent without the previous limits of geographical boundaries.

Employers are keen to build resilient talent pipelines across countries as they search for candidates able to adapt and thrive in this new business landscape.  It is precisely why military skills and talent are perfectly positioned to meet the needs of UK employers and those looking for talent overseas.

"We need people that are flexible, good communicators, are independent, and resilient...to help us deliver our programmes successfully, and we find those qualities very often in people that have had military experience.”

Martin Fausset, CEO Elbit Systems UK

Technology is critical

The Pandemic has ushered in a new wave of digitalisation. We are already seeing an increase in the use of tools and technologies to help manage remote teams, including virtual offices, augmented and virtual reality work environments and advanced multi-media communication tools.  The pace of change is unrelenting and was re-iterated by James Murphy, the Chief Executive of TechVets at a recent OA event. He observed that digital transformation programmes are being accelerated by five years, with jobs in Cyber Security, Cloud Computing and Project Management most in demand.

Become familiar with this technology-dependent work environment and get comfortable undertaking a new role within it. Look out for training courses run by organisations like the OA, the CTP and TechVets. Don’t get left behind.

Diversity and inclusion

Organisations recognise that diverse hires make for great teams that work.  We are seeing HR Directors investing in developing broader candidate streams to recruit the best talent available.

Take Amazon, one of the first companies to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant in the UK. Recognising how the skills and experience of Service personnel benefit their business, they proactively recruit from across the military talent pool – employing almost 400 men and women into operations management and engineering roles nationwide.

Companies are working harder and aiming to be more transparent about their commitment to diversity. According to 2018 gender pay gap data, women working for online supermarket Ocado earn a median hourly average of 1.3% more than men and whilst more men than women received bonuses (70% vs 66%), female staff earned a higher commission – approximately 3% more – than their male colleagues.

Social media as a recruitment tool

With recruiters keen to cast their nets wider as they search for the best candidates, many are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to capture potential hires.  We will see more recruitment hashtags and eye-catching content like video streaming as essential elements in recruitment campaigns.  Social posts will link directly to employer websites, teaming with rich content and designed to encourage you to apply for positions.

A word of caution!  Always ensure your social media profile remains professional and up to date, as future employers will almost certainly check them out.

Increased appreciation for soft skills

The Deloitte employer-led study ‘Veterans Work’ highlighted a lack of understanding of the critical skills veterans possess – only 66% of large and medium organisations perceived veterans as having good communication skills.  Yet, soft skills are a key strength according to those employing them.

Business recognises the increased need for soft skills such as teamwork, collaboration and time management and increasingly align these core skills with military training.  Working with the OA, Martin Fausset, CEO Elbit Systems UK said: “We need people that are flexible, good communicators, are independent, and resilient…to help us deliver our programmes successfully, and we find those qualities very often in people that have had military experience.”

Another soft skill that is gaining prominence is the ability to build large networks across industries and sectors. Digital platforms allow employees to amplify the reach of any company message through their own networks, providing a competitive advantage in sales and a boost to overall reach.

Employers work harder to win you over

The Harvard Business Review highlighted a rise in organisations investing in creating company cultures and team cohesion that employees can readily adopt. We’ve seen the success of Amazon’s approach and Gartner’s recent 2020 Reimagine HR Employee Survey stated that employers who support employees with their life experience see a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health and a 17% increase in employees physical health.

At the OA, we always ask job seekers to consider the company/sector they might want to work in and the culture inherent within an organisation.  As the lines blur between home and work life, it is essential you embrace the company ethos and feel that your time and effort will be recognised and rewarded.

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