Attracting Talent Is The #1 Concern For Businesses: Can Coworking Help?

Attracting and retaining skilled employees is a major ongoing concern for businesses.
  • Attracting and retaining skilled employees is a major ongoing concern for businesses.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, one source suggests that different generations all want the same thing: career, community and cause.
  • Coworking spaces can help fulfill those requirements, and many more.

How to attract and retain the “right” employees was a hotly discussed topic at this year’s BCA Conference, with attendees and speakers both referring to it as a significant challenge.

Competition is fierce across many sectors, and it’s an issue that numerous businesses are grappling with.

The situation today

In a recent article for Harvard Business Review (May-June 2019 issue), Peter Capelli explains that the way we hire has changed. In many cases, the recruitment process is outsourced, and those who still do their own recruiting are often left to figure out exactly what to put in ads and how to use new applicant-tracking software.

“Census data shows, for example, that the majority of people who took a new job last year weren’t searching for one: Somebody came and got them. Companies seek to fill their recruiting funnel with as many candidates as possible, especially ‘passive candidates’, who aren’t looking to move.” — Peter Capelli, Harvard Business Review, May-June 2019

Capelli explains that, according to PwC’s 2017 CEO survey, chief executives see the unavailability of talent and skills as the biggest threat to their business, and Society for Human Resources reveals that employers spend approximately $4,129 on hiring per job.

In other words, hiring is proving difficult and incredibly expensive.

Capelli goes on to provide some useful advice on how to rethink and refine the recruitment process, from understanding the limits of referrals to tracking the outcomes. However, this article got us thinking about what companies can do more broadly to attract the right people, and whether coworking can have an impact.


What do employees look for?

In a bid to find out what makes their people tick at work, Facebook set out to survey their workforce twice a year. As a result, the team at Facebook have been able to identify three key motivators: career, community and cause.

  • Career: Employees want a role that provides autonomy, the opportunity to showcase strengths and access to learning and development opportunities.
  • Community: Humans seek a sense of belonging through human interaction; we want to feel respected and cared about by our colleagues and peers.
  • Cause: Having a sense of purpose and pride in the company’s ethos and mission is important because we want to have a positive impact on the world.

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, the conversation tends to focus on the Millennial generation: “How do we attract Millennials and Gen Z?”; “What do Millennials look for in a job?”; “How can we appeal to Millennials’ values?”

Interestingly enough, Facebook found that priorities and values were very similar across all age groups. We’re all more or less looking for the same thing, and wanting to be a part of a community and have opportunities for career growth are not Millennial concepts.

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Motivations by age group, according to Facebook research.

How can coworking help?

Coworking spaces can be a powerful tool for both attracting and retaining talent. Perhaps this is why corporate coworking is becoming so popular, with the likes of KPMG, Pepsi and Microsoft getting on board.

Let’s take a look at how coworking can help fulfil each of the aforementioned employee ‘needs’.

Learning & development:

“Proworking” operator Fora is one of many providers who offer their members opportunities for learning and development in the form of inspirational talks and panel discussions led by industry experts.

In October 2018 three tech disruptors joined a live audience at Fora’s Borough location for a discussion hosted by tech broadcaster and presenter of The Gadget Show, Georgie Barrat.

You can read more about the session and others on Fora’s blog.

Fora’s 2018 TechDisrupt panel discussion explored how tech is changing the face of recruitment (Image source: FORA)

Collaboration & networking:

Coworking, by its very definition, is collaborative in the sense that space and amenities are shared by members. But some operators are going the extra mile to enable members to form meaningful connections with their fellow coworkers through more informal in-house social events.

As well as hosting tech-oriented workshops such as “Selling to Enterprise Customers by Microsoft”, Rocketspace, an accelerator and coworking space for tech businesses, hosts film screenings, yoga sessions and networking events that are open to the public as well as members.

Promoting brand values:

Choosing a coworking space that aligns with their own brand narrative and identity can help businesses to attract the right candidates. It can also help to instill a sense of purpose in employees. For instance, many coworking spaces are adopting ‘green’ initiatives to become more environmentally conscious and achieve BREEAM excellence.

The Office Group’s White Collar Factory in London is just one example of a coworking space with a BREEAM excellent rating (Image source: The Office Group)

Although the onus is ultimately on employers to attract and retain employees, a coworking space can help to create the right impression and add value to the employee experience. Wellness programmes, networking events, seminars — even small things like complimentary breakfasts and drinks can make a huge difference.
Got any tried and tested employee recruitment strategies? Share them with us on Twitter @Allwork_space.

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