Workplaces have entered the ‘omniployment era’, says report – but what is it and what does it mean for HR?

White paper claims work increasingly has to fit around people’s lives as experts highlight ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer fit for purpose

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Workplaces have entered into the ‘omniployment era’ – a shift away from a traditional one-size-fits-all view of work, a report by the Henley Business School’s World of Work Institute claims.

The Omniployment Era white paper, which investigates what a post-Covid, post-Great Resignation workforce looks like, says the workforce is not one-dimensional.

The survey of 3,000 full-time UK employees, designed to determine what makes a workforce tick, found that work needs to fit better around employees’ lives.

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Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said they required a career that allowed them enough free time for interest and hobbies, with only 19 per cent of respondents willing to work longer hours to progress.

In addition, the poll found 30 per cent of the workforce were looking for a new job, while 46 per cent of people who moved jobs in the last year were looking for a new position. 

Rita Fontinha, director of flexible work at Henley Business School, said: “Omniployment might be a new term but the idea is not; heterogeneity in the labour market existed far beyond the pandemic.” 

She explained that it was “crucial that business leaders wake up to the omniployment era and take steps to change the approach of the past”.

Fontinha added: “If they don’t, it’s clear that employees in sectors with a high demand for talent feel empowered to look elsewhere.”

The report also found the top tipping points most likely to cause someone to leave their current job were a toxic workplace with bullying, harassment or microaggressions (68 per cent), uncompetitive salary or bonus (65 per cent), poor work-life balance (61 per cent), an unsafe working environment (60 per cent) and being overworked (58 per cent).

Lisa Seagroatt, founder and managing director of HR Fit for Purpose, told People Management the days of the one-size-fits-all approach to the standard working week had “evaporated”.

“People’s attitudes have changed drastically as the pandemic has helped pave the way towards completely different ways and approaches to both employing and rewarding people, with a better work-life balance being a big driver as the survey shows,” she said. 

Seagroatt also explained this might not be the case for every industry, as some such as retail are unable to offer approaches suitable for the omniployment era, but urged employers to take notice of the survey’s results. 

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of consultancy 10Eighty, told People Management: “Business leaders need a better understanding of their employees’ values and aspirations to enable the recruitment of top talent and to keep those people happier and more productive in the workplace. 

“One size does not fit all when it comes to career planning and support. HR and leadership consistently talk about enabling and empowering their employees to express themselves and, in the current environment, they need to step up and practise what they preach.” 

The paper identified six types of workers, with their own working preferences:

Work-life balance advocates 

The white paper said these workers value their ability to balance work and out-of-work commitments and the opportunity to work flexibly from home, whether that be through a four-day working week or unlimited leave.

This group made up the largest share of the workforce at 39 per cent, had a male majority (55 per cent) and was mostly aged between 18 and 34 years old.

The socially conscious

They value a business’s record and stance on social issues and diversity in the workplace, with the study saying they “shun companies with a poor record on environmental and social justice issues''. They make up 15 per cent of the workforce, the study said.

Lone rangers 

‘Lone rangers’ – 14 per cent of the workforce – are focused on salary and location and are motivated by high salaries and the opportunity to work remotely. 

Salary-driven weekend workers

The study discovered that 13 per cent are driven by the income range on offer and are willing to work long hours – including weekends – to earn a high salary. These workers have little regard for employee perks, ethical or social issues or location.

Employee advocates

These account for up to 10 per cent of the workforce and expect corporations to demonstrate strong social standards and good practice in treating their employees well.

Employee satisfaction enthusiasts 

Employee satisfaction enthusiasts are highly sensitive to employee reviews and motivated by benefits packages and companies that treat their employees right.