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Who is in charge in the workplace ?

Probably the most common conversation for business people in virtually every sector is the problem of attracting and retaining skilled staff. It’s even more acute in Bath, on account of the high cost of housing and a less than ideal transport system which does not make it easy to travel into and out of the City.

Salary levels play a part in the conversation, but I am continuing to hear that a desire for flexible working, which avoids going into the office too often, is as regular a request now as it was during the dark days of the pandemic.

There are some jobs which just don’t allow people to work from home, but many tasks, such as roles in professional services, certainly do, and staff are apparently still very keen to keep up that particular working practice.

That creates a number of problems for businesses, which have recognised a drop off in team working, elements of creativity and difficulty in providing mentoring from senior staff of their more junior colleagues who therefore don’t develop in their careers as they normally would expect to.

Members are saying they have been surprised at the strength of feeling they are seeing and they are scratching their heads about how to deal with it. As fair employers they naturally want to do the right thing for their staff and will bend over backwards to be helpful, but they also have a responsibility to run the business effectively. Above all they want to attract and retain the best people – so the question is, who holds the cards when it comes to these negotiations, the boss or the worker ?

Another piece of the jigsaw is the ability for businesses to employ people who don’t even live in this country. At first glance that looks like good news because the talent pool is that much larger. Of course, it is a double edged sword, since foreign companies can poach UK talent, offering competitive salaries and a very flexible approach to working patterns.

It all adds up to a complex environment within which our businesses are operating but I have every confidence that we have enough creative and imaginative minds to solve this conundrum as they have the many other challenges they have faced in the past.


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