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Navigating the Flexible Working Bill: A Guide for Employers

17 August 2023

In a revolutionary move that embraces the changing landscape of work, the Flexible Working Bill officially became law in July 2023, empowering employees to seek greater flexibility in their work arrangements (the new rules will likely come into effect in 2024).

For employers, this legislation signals a paradigm shift in how teams operate, compelling them to adapt and accommodate the evolving preferences of their workforce.

The Birth of the Flexible Working Bill
Originally proposed by MP Yasmin Qureshi, the Flexible Working Bill, also known as the Employment Relations Act, signifies a landmark step toward redefining traditional work norms. The bill offers employees the autonomy to determine when, where, and how they work, a transformation that has been accelerated by recent shifts in work patterns.

Understanding the Key Changes

  • Immediate Requests: Unlike previous norms, the new legislation empowers employees to submit flexible working requests from the very first day of employment, amplifying their control over their work-life balance.
  • Consultation and Justification: Employers are now mandated to engage in dialogue with employees before rejecting a flexible working request. This move ensures that all parties understand the reasoning behind decisions and fosters a culture of transparency.
  • Frequency of Requests: Employees can make up to two flexible working requests within a 12-month period, providing them with opportunities to adapt their arrangements as their circumstances evolve.
  • Response Time: Employers are required to respond to these requests within two months, streamlining the decision-making process and allowing employees to plan their work lives more effectively.
  • Impact Assessment: Unlike previous requirements, employees no longer need to predict how their flexible work request might affect their employer. This shift alleviates pressure on employees and allows employers to consider requests without anticipating potential disruptions.
     

Preparing for a Flexible Future: Employer Responsibilities
Embracing the Flexible Working Bill involves more than just compliance; it's about cultivating a work environment that promotes employee well-being, productivity, and inclusivity. Here's how employers can proactively navigate this new terrain:

  1. Education and Communication: Familiarise your team with the implications of the bill. Encourage open conversations about flexible working options, addressing any concerns or misconceptions.
  2. Review and Revise Policies: Update your company policies and procedures to align with the new legislation. Establish clear guidelines for processing and responding to flexible working requests.
  3. Infrastructure and Technology: Ensure your organisation has the necessary technological infrastructure to facilitate remote work and flexible arrangements. Invest in communication tools, project management software, and cybersecurity measures to support a dynamic work environment.
  4. Training for Managers: Equip your managers with the skills needed to handle flexible working requests effectively. Provide training on managing remote teams, assessing performance based on outcomes, and fostering a culture of trust.
  5. Evaluate Job Roles: Review existing roles to identify positions that could benefit from flexible arrangements. Assess the feasibility of job-sharing, remote work, compressed workweeks, and other alternatives.
     

The Benefits of Embracing Flexibility
While the Flexible Working Bill introduces new considerations for employers, it also offers a multitude of advantages that can enhance your business:

  • Talent Acquisition: In an increasingly competitive job market, offering flexible work options positions your company as an attractive destination for top talent seeking work-life balance.
  • Productivity and Well-Being: Research consistently shows that employees with flexible arrangements report increased job satisfaction, reduced stress, and improved mental well-being, leading to higher productivity and retention rates.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Flexible working can appeal to a diverse range of candidates, contributing to a more inclusive workforce and a broader talent pool.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: Embracing flexibility fosters an agile work environment, enabling your business to navigate unexpected disruptions and market changes more effectively.
     

Possible Negatives to Consider
While the Flexible Working Bill brings forth a wave of positive changes, it's important for employers to also be aware of potential challenges that may arise:

  • Team Cohesion and Communication: As employees adopt various flexible arrangements, there might be concerns about maintaining effective team communication and collaboration. A shift to remote work or differing schedules could lead to isolated team members or delays in information sharing.
  • Performance Monitoring: Ensuring consistent performance evaluation and accountability can become complex in a more flexible work environment. Employers may need to establish new methods for assessing employee productivity and delivering feedback.
  • Workload Distribution: Flexibility can sometimes result in an uneven distribution of work, especially if team members have different schedules or locations. Managers will need to implement strategies to ensure fair distribution and prevent overburdening certain employees.
  • Data Security and Privacy: With remote work becoming more prevalent, there could be increased concerns around data security and privacy. Employers must ensure that remote work arrangements adhere to cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive information.
  • Work-Life Boundaries: While flexible working can enhance work-life balance, it can also blur the lines between personal and professional life. Employees may find it challenging to disconnect from work when there are no clear boundaries between office hours and personal time.
  • Business Continuity: In cases where multiple employees opt for flexible arrangements, businesses need contingency plans to manage potential disruptions. Adequate cross-training and communication protocols become crucial to maintain operations smoothly.
     

Understanding the potential negatives of the Flexible Working Bill is vital to proactively address and mitigate these challenges. By incorporating thoughtful policies, open communication, and strategic planning, employers can harness the benefits of flexibility while minimising any drawbacks.

As the Flexible Working Bill ushers in a new era of work dynamics, employers have a unique opportunity to reshape their workplaces and empower their teams. By embracing flexibility, you not only comply with the law but also foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and well-being that can drive your business to new heights. The future of work is flexible – it's time to embrace the evolution.

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Revolutionising Recruitment: The Impact of AI

21 July 2023

In an era defined by technological advancements, it comes as no surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant strides in transforming various industries. One such sector that has witnessed the impact of AI is recruitment, and the public sector is no exception.

As a public sector recruitment agency, we have closely observed the integration of AI into our processes, prompting us to delve into the realm of possibilities and contemplate its potential benefits and drawbacks. In this blog, we explore how AI could replace certain systems and discuss the pros and cons of employing this cutting-edge technology.

Replacing Traditional Systems with AI

  • Candidate Sourcing and Screening
    Traditionally, sourcing and screening candidates has been a time-consuming process that involves sifting through countless CVs and applications. With AI, however, automated systems can swiftly analyse CVs, extracting relevant information such as qualifications and experience. By leveraging AI, recruitment agencies can significantly reduce the time and effort required for candidate selection, thus improving overall efficiency.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
    Applicant Tracking Systems have long been an integral part of the recruitment process, helping manage CVs, track candidate progress, and streamline communication. AI-powered ATS platforms can take this a step further by using natural language processing algorithms to identify keywords, match candidates to job descriptions, and even predict the suitability of an applicant for a particular role. Such advancements eliminate human biases and ensure fair and accurate evaluations.
  • Interviewing and Assessment
    Conducting interviews and assessments is a crucial aspect of the recruitment process. AI has paved the way for video interviewing tools that employ facial and speech recognition algorithms to assess candidates. These systems can analyse facial expressions, tone of voice, and language patterns to gauge a candidate's suitability for a role. AI-powered assessment tools can also evaluate skills through gamified simulations or coding challenges, providing an objective and standardised evaluation.

Pros and Cons of AI in Recruitment

Pros

  • Enhanced Efficiency: AI streamlines and automates various aspects of recruitment, saving time and resources. This allows public sector recruitment companies to focus on more strategic and value-added tasks.
  • Improved Accuracy: AI eliminates human biases, ensuring fair evaluations based on merit and qualifications. This promotes diversity and inclusivity in the recruitment process.
  • Enhanced Candidate Experience: AI-driven systems can provide candidates with real-time updates, personalised recommendations, and valuable feedback, fostering a positive experience throughout the hiring journey.

Cons

  • Ethical Concerns: The use of AI in recruitment raises ethical considerations such as privacy, data security, and algorithmic biases. Recruitment agencies must navigate these challenges responsibly and ensure transparency in their processes.
  • Lack of Human Touch: While AI brings efficiency, it may lack the human touch and intuition that can be valuable in assessing certain soft skills or cultural fit. Maintaining a balance between AI and human involvement is crucial to provide a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Initial Investment and Training: Adopting AI technologies requires financial investment and staff training. Recruitment agencies need to carefully consider the cost-benefit ratio and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Potential Bias Reinforcement: While AI has the potential to eliminate human biases, it can also perpetuate bias in the recruitment process. AI algorithms are only as unbiased as the data used to train them, and any dataset may contain implicit or explicit biases. If the historical data used to train the AI systems reflects biases present in society, such as gender or racial biases, the algorithms may inadvertently reinforce those biases.

The Future of AI in Recruitment

Looking ahead, AI has the potential to revolutionise the recruitment landscape even further. Here are a few areas where future AI advancements could bring significant changes:

  • Predictive Analytics
    AI-powered algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data to predict future workforce needs, identify skill gaps, and make proactive hiring decisions. This can assist recruitment agencies in better workforce planning and talent management.
     
  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
    AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can streamline the initial stages of candidate engagement, providing instant responses to frequently asked questions, scheduling interviews, and even conducting preliminary assessments. This can enhance the candidate experience and free up human resources for more complex tasks.
     
  • Skill Development and Training
    AI-powered platforms can identify skill deficiencies among existing employees and recommend personalised training programs. This proactive approach can help public sector organisations nurture talent from within and bridge skill gaps effectively.

AI has undoubtedly revolutionised the recruitment landscape, offering public sector recruitment companies a range of benefits. By automating processes, streamlining candidate selection, and improving accuracy, AI systems can significantly enhance efficiency and fairness in the recruitment process. However, it is essential to approach AI implementation with caution, addressing ethical concerns and striking a balance between technology and human involvement.

As the future unfolds, the integration of AI in recruitment will continue to evolve, shaping the ability to attract the best talent while upholding its core values of transparency and fairness. We are committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in the recruitment industry. If you're looking for an efficient, inclusive, and forward-thinking recruitment partner, contact us today at [email protected]

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Jobs in Further Education (FE) and the Benefits of Working in FE

14 July 2023

Each year, 1.7 million students go to college in England to develop their careers, progress to university, engage in further education and increase their employability skills.

In a post-COVID-19 pandemic world, there is wider economic importance of FE in raising skills levels and providing opportunities for young people, particularly through T-Levels and apprenticeships. As a result, there are a growing number of FE vacancies available in colleges across the UK.

With September two months away, colleges are getting ready for the next academic year. And having the right staff in place, from college lecturers to administrators, is key. Jobs in FE colleges are diverse and include a range of roles, from teachers and learning support staff to careers advisers and student services workers.

Further education is a rewarding sector to work in. Not only do you get to make a difference in the lives of young people, but you also get to be part of a dynamic and evolving sector.

The sector has struggled to attract staff. One reason for this is that many people think they need set qualifications, sector experience, or a trained teacher to work in FE. This is not the case. Read on to learn more about jobs in further education and discover the benefits of working in this growing sector.
 

About further education
According to data from the AoC, there are 277 colleges in the UK, including 232 colleges in England and 45 sixth-form colleges. FE courses include A-levels, BTECs (Business and Technology Education Council), and T-levels.

Some colleges also run undergraduate programmes. According to the AoC's College Key Facts 2021/22 report, colleges deliver:

  • 84% of Higher National Certificates (HNCs) (at Level 4 - equivalent to a Certificate of Higher Education),
  • 66% of Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)
  • 67% of foundation degrees (both at Level 5 - equivalent to two-thirds of a bachelor's degree).

These post-secondary school qualifications are delivered by FE, sixth form, and specialist colleges that aim to provide top-quality academic, technical, and professional education and training for both young people and adults. With apprenticeships increasing in popularity, colleges train around 1,100 apprentices

Public service teaching jobs
Teaching is considered one of the most respected careers in the UK. According to a Teach First poll, 42% of those surveyed voted this way, with around half (47%) agreeing that people underestimate how much impact a teacher can have on a young person.

There is a demand for teachers in the further education sector in the UK, with opportunities available for those interested in pursuing a career in this field. High numbers of teachers within FE are needed to deliver work-relevant skills training. One key area that continues to struggle to attract new candidates is vocational education, where both teachers and assessors remain scarce commodities.

There is a global teacher shortage, and talent is hard to find, particularly in specialist subjects. The UK government is recognising that further education teaching jobs need to be filled by seeking suppliers to bring 4,000 teachers into the FE sector by 2025, as part of an expansion to a major recruitment scheme. This is one reason for the increase in public service teaching jobs.
 

No experience in FE? Not always a problem!
College lecturer jobs do not always require teaching experience or certain academic qualifications. Some further education teaching jobs have on-the-job training, and some FE vacancies come with possible funding to achieve teaching qualifications.

Courses such as bricklaying, engineering, and plumbing need experienced, skilled workers to teach the next generation. More colleges now focus on how valuable years of hands-on experience are as opposed to holding set qualifications.

When it comes to recruiting FE lecturers for STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and assessors for vocational subjects such as Plumbing, Electrical Installation, bricklaying, and Hairdressing, vacancies continue to rise. At Morgan Hunt Recruitment, we have seen an increase in jobs in these areas in recent years.

Nowadays, we talk about ‘portfolio careers’, and changing jobs is no longer a red flag; rather, it is an accepted norm in the wider employment market. So, if you have had enough of working in industry, now could be a great time to enter the college sector.

The UK government has launched a £5 million scheme called the Taking Teaching Further programme, which will pay for up to 150 professionals from sectors such as engineering and computing to retrain as further education teachers.
 

The joys of teaching in further education teaching
If you take a FE lecturer job, you will still get to practise the trade you trained in and are passionate about. With a FE career, you will be safe in the knowledge that you are influencing and shaping the next generation of industry experts.

The rewards of teaching in FE are plenty, and there is an opportunity for creativity and innovation. FE learners may have struggled within a school learning environment and will respond to a more innovative and personalised approach. The FE environment demands that FE lecturers approach teaching with enthusiasm and a positive attitude and assist students to apply their skills to real-life scenarios.
 

Flexible working
One of the most attractive prospects about working as a FE teacher is the opportunity for flexible working, which isn’t available in most other career paths. Many workers are disillusioned with the 9-to-5, limited holiday time, and weekend work required by those working in hairdressing or mechanics. Although FE workloads are demanding, teachers and assessors can often choose between working full-time, part-time, in the evenings, or even on a casual, hourly basis. This leaves significant scope for flexibility in working hours.

 

What are the benefits of working within FE?

Job security and stability
One of the significant advantages of pursuing public service teaching jobs in FE is the stability and security that aren’t seen in other industries. A teaching career offers job security and is one of the most recession-proof jobs, according to CNBC News.

FE provides a stable career in a post-pandemic world. Once you've landed a job in FE, you can feel confident that you'll have a stable career. With an emphasis on continuous learning and professional development, FE colleges provide plenty of opportunities.

Jobs in the public sector, including public service teaching jobs, are known for their job security. This means that while other jobs are being replaced by technology or robotics, there will always be a need for teachers.
 

Salaries, benefits, and annual leave
Salaries for all roles within the FE sector are competitive. Public service education jobs often offer attractive benefits such as:

  • Good pension schemes
  • Generous leave entitlements
  • A healthy work-life balance

Those working outside of the education sector are not aware of the generous annual leave entitlement that comes with FE. Although this is dependent on the type of role, most are entitled to around 38 days of holiday per year, plus bank holidays. This is higher than the basic 20 to 25-day standard allowance.
 

Making a Meaningful Impact
Working in FE means playing a vital role in the education of young people seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge. Whether you're a lecturer, tutor, support staff, or administrator, you have the opportunity to inspire, motivate, and transform lives. Everyone working within the further education sector has a role to play in empowering learners to achieve their aspirations and make an impact on society.
 

Diversity and inclusion
FE colleges are hubs of diversity, bringing together people from different backgrounds, ages, and cultures. For those teaching in the sector, you will be working with a diverse range of students, each with their unique needs and aspirations. This dynamic and inclusive learning atmosphere enables you to enhance your teaching skills and broaden your perspectives.
 

Flexibility
FE careers offer flexibility in working hours and locations. With part-time, full-time, and flexible contract options, you can find a role that suits your circumstances while still making an impact in the field of education.
 

Professional Development and Career Progression
FE colleges are dedicated to continuous professional development for their staff. FE institutions encourage and provide resources for training, development and learning, helping you stay up-to-date with the latest teaching and industry trends. Whether you aspire to head of a department, progress to leadership roles, or specialise in an area, FE colleges have clear pathways for career advancement, ensuring you grow and develop your skills.
 

Variety of FE Vacancies 
Public sector education jobs offer a plethora of opportunities. FE colleges have different departments and subjects, catering to diverse vocational and academic disciplines. Whether you're passionate about engineering, healthcare, the creative arts, business, or any other field, you are likely to find a niche within a FE college that aligns with your knowledge, skills, and experience.

 

There are great reasons to work in further education. With an increasing demand for skilled professionals in public sector education, pursuing a role at a FE college is fulfilling. Jobs in FE colleges are a fantastic career choice for anyone interested in making a difference.

If you are passionate about education, committed to lifelong learning, and eager to contribute to the personal growth of others, exploring further education and public sector education jobs could be your pathway to a new career.

With plenty of jobs in further education, jobs in FE colleges, and FE vacancies available, now is a great time to consider a career in education. As a leading agency in public service teaching jobs, the Morgan Hunt education team can help you find the right public service teaching job. If you're looking for jobs in further education, search for our FE vacancies here. With many FE vacancies starting in September, now is the time to apply!

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From Addict to Advocate: A Personal Story

29 June 2023

On Wednesday 28th June we ran, ‘From Addict to Advocate: A Personal Story’ , where Aaron Abbott, Business Manager at Morgan Hunt, shared his story from gambling addiction to setting up a social enterprise education young people on the dangers of gambling.

We discuss:

  • Aaron’s background and what triggered his gambling addiction
  • The impact of addiction on mental health
  • Coping tips and strategies for gambling addiction
  • The roles of parents and employers in addressing and preventing gambling addiction
  • Steps society must take to tackle this issue

 

Watch the full recording below

 

Further Gambling Information

Signs of Problem Gambling

  • Borrowing money to gamble of pay off debts
  • Unpaid bills and debt
  • Unexplained absences from work or social occasions
  • Being secretive about gambling habits
  • Lying to conceal the extent of gambling
  • Swings in mood or behaviour
  • Preoccupied with gambling and unable to stop
  • Spend increased time gambling online or in-store
  • Bragging about gambling – highlighting wins, not discussing losses
  • Losing interest in past times and hobbies
  • Gambling stake increases
  • Chasing losses

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Embracing Menstruation and Menopause in the Workplace

26 May 2023

At Morgan Hunt, we firmly believe in creating an inclusive and supportive workplace that values the well-being and empowerment of our employees. We want to shed light on two important and distinct issues affecting many individuals in the workforce: menstruation and menopause. By fostering open dialogue, offering flexible policies, providing access to necessary resources, and promoting education and awareness, we can create an environment where everyone feels respected and supported throughout these natural phases of life.

Despite the progress we have made in breaking down societal barriers, stigma surrounding menstruation and menopause still persists in many workplaces. This stigma often leads to silence, shame, and the suppression of conversations around these topics. Employees may feel hesitant to discuss their menstrual or menopausal experiences due to fear of judgment or discrimination. As employers, we have the power to challenge these stigmas by fostering an environment of acceptance and understanding. By openly acknowledging and addressing the stigma, we can create a workplace culture that promotes inclusivity, empathy, and support. Let's explore how employers can make a positive impact on menstruation and menopause in the workplace.

 

Menstruation in the Workplace
Menstruation is a normal part of many women's lives, and it is essential that we address the unique challenges it presents in the workplace. Here are some key considerations for supporting employees during menstruation:

  1. Open Dialogue
    • By encouraging open conversations, we can reduce stigma and create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs and concerns.
    • Foster open discussions through team meetings, one-on-one sessions, or anonymous suggestion boxes, allowing employees to voice their challenges, suggestions, and concerns without fear of judgment or embarrassment.
  2. Flexible Work Policies
  3. Accessibility to Menstrual Products

Menopause in the Workplace
Menopause is a natural stage of life that can bring physical and emotional changes for women, and it is crucial that employers provide support during this transition. Here's how employers can support employees experiencing menopause:

  1. Open Dialogue
  2. Flexible Work Policies:
  3. Education and Awareness Programs:

As a recruitment company, it is our responsibility to advocate for inclusive workplaces that celebrate diversity and prioritise employee well-being. Menstruation and menopause are natural processes that affect a significant portion of the workforce. By actively supporting individuals during these stages of life, we foster a culture of inclusivity, empathy, and empowerment.

Let's challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and create an environment where menstruation and menopause are seen as normal and worthy of support. Together, we can build a workplace where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to achieve their full potential.

Remember, supporting individuals during menstruation and menopause is not just an act of kindness; it is a smart business decision that leads to a more engaged and productive workforce. Let's stand together and make a positive change in the way we approach these natural processes in the workplace. If you want further advice on supporting your employees who experience menstruation or menopause, reach out to us at [email protected]

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The Importance of Mental Health Sick Days

11 May 2023

Mental health has long been stigmatised in our society, and unfortunately, this stigma often prevents people from seeking the help they need. While physical health issues are generally accepted as legitimate reasons for taking a sick day, the same is not always true for mental health. This can lead people to push themselves too hard, leading to burnout, decreased productivity, and in severe cases, even mental breakdowns.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of removing the stigma of mental health and the importance of recognising that sick days are not just for physical sickness. It's perfectly okay to use sick days if your mental health is suffering that day.

Mental health affects all aspects of our lives, including our work. When our mental health is suffering, it can be challenging to focus on work, and our productivity may suffer as a result. Taking a sick day when we need it can help us recover and come back to work refreshed and ready to perform at our best. However, many people still feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they need a mental health day, and this stigma needs to be addressed.

Misconceptions
One of the reasons why mental health is stigmatised is the misconceptions around mental illness. Many people believe that mental health issues are a sign of weakness, or that they are not real illnesses. This couldn't be further from the truth. Mental health issues are just as real as physical health issues, and they require treatment and care just like any other illness. By acknowledging that mental health issues are legitimate reasons for taking a sick day, we can help reduce the stigma around mental health and encourage people to take care of themselves.

Mental Health Stigma
Another reason why mental health is stigmatised is the fear of discrimination. People worry that taking a mental health day will negatively impact their career, and that they will be seen as less competent or reliable. This fear is not unfounded, as many workplaces still have a long way to go in terms of supporting their employees' mental health. However, by speaking openly about the importance of mental health, we can begin to shift the conversation and create a more supportive and understanding workplace culture.

Employer Role
Employers have a vital role to play in removing the stigma of mental health and promoting a healthy workplace culture. By providing mental health resources and support, employers can help their employees prioritise their mental health and well-being. This can include offering mental health days, providing access to therapy or counselling, and promoting a culture of open communication and support.

In conclusion, removing the stigma of mental health is essential to promoting a healthy workplace culture and ensuring that employees feel supported and valued. Sick days are not just for physical sickness, and it's perfectly okay to use sick days if your mental health is suffering that day. By acknowledging the importance of mental health and promoting a culture of openness and support, we can help reduce the stigma around mental health and create a more compassionate and understanding society.

If you’re an employer wanting further advice then read our blog on Supporting Employee Mental Health here: www.morganhunt.com/news-and-views/2023/05/supporting-employee-mental-health/271

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