As companies navigate their way through the previous three years of upheaval, we at McLean Public have been reflecting on how the executive search world has evolved to cope with the changing demands of an increasingly candidate-centric market. Here are the top five trends for the public sector we believe are here to stay.
The Rise of Flexible Working
The immediate and obvious change in the executive search world in recent years is that many people, politicians included, now see flexible working as a mainstream working pattern that suits organisations and employees alike. A large proportion of office workers have proven they can work and be effective from home – and feel the benefits of this in terms of their work-life balance. When speaking to candidates, one of the first questions they ask now is often, “How many days do I need to be in the office?”. Candidates are keen to explore their options in relation to how much flexibility a new role could offer them. Organisations who have previously been reluctant to offer this have now been forced to reconsider – because if they don’t provide it, candidates in 2023 are not averse to looking elsewhere for employers that have embraced hybrid or “blended” working.
Networks Are Broader Than Ever Before
From our perspective, an added benefit arises from the rise of flexible working – companies are now able to cast a broader net whilst searching for high-calibre executives. With reduced commuting time, candidates are willing to look further afield for opportunities that previously may have been overlooked. This has meant that candidate pools have not only increased in size, but also present greater diversity of perspective and thinking from a collective broader depth of experience and expertise.
Candidate Care Is Crucial
It has become increasingly clear, with the shift to working and recruiting remotely (particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic), that engagement and communication is critical to ensuring a positive candidate experience. Providing accurate and in-depth information, being accessible, and ensuring candidates are looked after throughout the entire recruitment process has always been paramount for us at McLean Public – this has been particularly important during remote and mixed Teams/face-to-face recruitment campaigns.
Equality and Diversity – And Beyond
How Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is viewed in organisations has shifted dramatically in the last five years. Previously seen by some as a ‘box ticking exercise’, leaders in organisations of all sizes are now aware of the key benefits that a diverse leadership team can offer and actively seek to encourage unbiased and fair recruitment processes for their roles. The recent progress in this respect has also inspired organisations to consider what, exactly, constitutes diversity – going above and beyond the ‘accepted’ interpretation to further consider characteristics such as neurodiversity, gender identity and religion – beyond the protected characteristics defined in the 2010 Equality Act.
The Move Away from Full-Time Employment
With business uncertainty at an all-time low post-Brexit, post-pandemic and because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, we have seen many public organisations turning to interim executives and fixed-term contracts to meet their short-term needs. Career interims are experts in their fields and can hit the ground running, even during times of business crisis. Moreover, due to the nature of interim contracts, candidates are readily available and able to start in their positions immediately. Candidates, too, are more willing to make the move to fixed-term or interim contracts and consider options they may not have even thought about prior to the pandemic, as they assess what they require from their roles and the companies they work for.
Secondments have also become increasingly common, particularly internal secondments – career growth is no longer thought about in terms of straightforward upward promotion. A sideways move feels less risky for candidates, and for internal secondments, organisations are able to use their ongoing workforce planning to determine which roles are vital for futureproofing their business – and beyond this, who may be a good fit for these roles.
McLean Public is the specialist arm of McLean Advisory, focussed on public sector and Third Sector recruitment. We provide outstanding executive search, executive interim, consultancy and coaching across the UK and beyond with a particular focus on public enterprise bodies, digital, technology and innovation with diversity at the heart of everything we do. If you’re struggling to diversify your organisation’s workforce, please get in touch as this is something McLean Public can support you with.