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18 October 2021 | by Becky Turner
The latest UK employment data from the Office for National Statistics* shows the employment rate at 73.5%, putting it well ahead of the OECD average of 66.3%. Payrolled employees are at an all-time high and over 1 million job vacancies are waiting to be filled.
Against this picture of a competitive job market, many UK businesses are also contending with the complexity of navigating how best to return to work and what this looks like for each employee. Our own research shows that returning to the office 2-3 days a week is the preference for most workers. However, this headline statistic masks the diversity of preference between different age groups.
We have previously written at length about the different experiences of younger and older workers during lockdown, where younger workers often had to work from shared or unsuitable home settings. It is not surprising then that we now find that many younger workers are very keen to return to the office not only to have a better work experience but also to re-energise their careers.
Where many older workers prefer, and are able, to perform process, focus and concentration tasks at home this is not the case for younger workers; for many of them it is the office, not home, that is the place to get work done.
During protracted periods of home working many younger workers not only suffered from a lack of mentoring but also missed out on the learning through osmosis that being immersed in the normal process of work brings. Observation and participation are vital at the early stages of a career. Younger generations intuitively know that they also need to make the social and business connections that will build their careers. Being visible in the workplace arena helps them progress.
So, when considering the return to work, be aware of generational imperatives and question how the needs of younger workers can be accommodated alongside positive ways to encourage older workers to return to the office to mentor and react with them. In an increasingly competitive employment market, organisations should look to create an engaging and tailored work experience that will both attract and nurture new talent and retain existing talent.
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