UK business leaders know that creating a more flexible future is imperative to attracting and retaining the best talent. While 83% of UK HR professionals say their organisations are shifting to enable flexible working in the future, and 8% are moving completely to remote working, half are concerned about the impact it will have on company culture, according to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.

HR professionals have reason for concern. Supporting research from LinkedIn finds that 39% of C-level executives in the UK believe company culture has already been damaged or diluted as a result of remote working. Furthermore, 37% of business leaders are concerned about employees’ mental health and 35% fear employees may be bored or demotivated due to the continued time away from workplaces.

LinkedIn’s ‘The Future of Recruiting’ report surveyed 1,500+ HR and talent professionals around the world, including nearly 170 in the UK, to understand how COVID-19 is transforming workforce strategy and hiring practices. It uncovered top priorities for HR professionals as they continue to navigate the global pandemic and create new employee experiences.

Janine Chamberlin, Senior Director at LinkedIn, said: “Nurturing company culture, creating a sense of community and helping employees to connect and build relationships are some of the biggest challenges companies will face as they shift to flexible and remote working in the future. While the global pandemic has proved that remote working can be successful, in many cases employees have relied on strong existing relationships to keep businesses operating. With trust and rapport harder to create virtually, particularly for employees that are brand new to organisations or those starting out in their careers, companies will need to be creative in finding ways to connect their workforce to company culture and to each other. That will mean encouraging cross-functional team work, testing new collaboration technologies, and reimagining the purpose of workplaces.” 

The report also highlighted how recruiting and hiring practices will adapt due to the rise of flexible and remote working. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of HR and talent professionals believe that the move to remote working will help companies improve access to diverse talent pools and candidates from underrepresented groups, and 70% say their organisation is committed to improving diverse hiring. More than two-thirds (68%) believe virtual interviews will become standard, and nearly a third (32%) are implementing virtual onboarding programmes for new employees. Furthermore, 16% are creating new employee compensation and benefit packages for those that are going to be working remotely.

HR and talent professionals believe their roles will evolve as a result. Nearly three-quarters (74%) agree that employee engagement will become a much larger part of their role going forward, and 40% say creating positive employee experiences is going to be important. Over half (54%) believe that adaptability is the number one skill that will be most important to them in the year ahead.

Peter Ryding founder of the HRDPathFinder Club &, firmly expects the role of the HRD to play a more strategic role in leading, uniting and motivating a now-disparate remote workforce and believes the ability of the HRD to embrace and drive this will be critical in helping companies find their new direction going forwards. He says:

“Over recent years, the HR function has grown in prominence, yet success in the new world of remote work has made it critical. The HRD must ensure companies strategically hire and develop the right talent – then feed back strategic requirements to the boardroom. The rest of the Board are dependant on them feeding this information back in order to get the strategy right – and the CEO needs their HRDs support more than ever. There are emerging opportunities within every organisation – the businesses that survive and thrive will be those where HR plays this prominent role at board level.” 

Further information about LinkedIn’s The Future of Recruiting report can be found here.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.