The past year has been tough enough for business & administration workers and professionals. The period ahead could be even more challenging, though it also opens up opportunities to forge a more motivated, productive, and satisfied workforce.

Our new Randstad Employer Brand Research business & administration professions report highlights both the possibilities ahead, and the uncertainty and insecurity felt by much of the workforce.

contrasting experiences

Work-life balance sits alongside salary and benefits as the most important reasons for choosing an employer among business & administration talent.

Many people have found remote working liberating by giving them greater control over how they manage their time, and meet their objectives. However, others have struggled to balance personal and professional demands, especially if they are looking after children or older relatives at the same time. Many have also faced increased levels of stress, along with a growing sense of detachment from their organizations.

Taking the positives from the recent experience of remote working, while addressing the challenges, will be critical in making a success of the move to hybrid working.

job fears

The third most important factor in the ideal employer is job security. This always rises in times of economic crisis. But for business & administration talent there are additional concerns about the impact of automation and digitization. While some jobs will disappear, there are also opportunities to create new posts, eliminate a lot of the drudgery in administrative work, and allow people to pursue more fulfilling careers.

The importance of keeping pace with change is reflected in the high priority for career progression and training among business & administration workers taking part in our research. Indeed, there is research to suggest that they may be more adaptable and eager to retrain than managers often assume.

priorities for action

How then can your organization best support your business & administration workforce, while preparing them for the future? From analysis of the findings and their implications, four priorities for action stand out:

1/ tackle insecurity

Job fears are not just bad for wellbeing, they can also erode the confidence, adaptability, and willingness to innovate that are so important in today’s economy.

It’s therefore important to be clear about what’s coming as a result of hybrid working and technological change, the implications for different staff, and how they can boost their employability through training and experience.

A key part of this is promoting the benefits of technology more effectively. Use of the latest technology is near the bottom of what makes an employer attractive among the business & administration talent we interviewed. It’s therefore important to stress the positives including helping to take care of routine work, and enabling employees to make more productive use of their time.

Further possibilities include raising the status of business & administration within your organization, and breaking down the barriers with client-facing teams. One way is to project business & administration as a value enabler rather than just a series of support functions. Tech-enabled input in areas such as data analytics can help to bolster this change in perception.

2/ strengthen work-life balance

Work-life balance is more than just flexible working, as important as this can be. Bridget McEwan, VP Randstad Enterprise Group, believes that work-life is now more of a blend than a balance, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The priority is blending all aspects of your life to ensure the right balance, both personally and professionally. This includes creating a strong sense of community and purpose within the organization to help bring greater meaning and enjoyment to people’s time at work,” she says. 

As a result, forward-looking businesses are giving staff greater autonomy over how they achieve their objectives. That in turn demands trust on both sides – you can’t oversee your people in the way you did before, but as a manager you can still guide, encourage, and support. Indeed, learning how to manage and motivate a more dispersed workforce is going to be one of the most important skills in this new world of hybrid work.

3/ take your people with you

Engagement, dialogue, and caring for employees are more critical than ever. Our research highlights the extent to which allegiance to employers depends on how supported employees have felt during the upheaval of the past year. This isn’t just the technology needed to work well remotely, but also support for wellbeing and sustaining a sense of connection and belonging within your workforce.

Encouragingly, our research shows that most business & administration managers have got this right –more than two-thirds of people working in this area (68%) now feel more loyal to their employers as a result of the support they’ve received during the pandemic.

This kind of care and support provides an authentic demonstration of your values, culture, and ability to look after your employees, which will directly impact your employer brand.

4/ reinforce your purpose 

Like use of the latest technology, giving back to society is near the bottom of the list of what makes an employer attractive to business & administration talent. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to talent management in the mid- to long-term. Business & administration is currently low down the list of sectors that participants in the Randstad Employer Brand Research want to work in. Offering greater meaning in this type of work would help to boost its attractiveness.

To find out more about what business & administration talent wants, download the latest Randstad Employer Brand Research global business & administration professions report. The findings and analysis include breakdowns by gender, age, region, and type of work.