The role HR can play in reducing ‘economic inactivity’

In an article published by the BBC, it was highlighted that roughly a quarter of the UK’s population who are of ‘working age’ (aged 16-64) do not currently have jobs, this equates to nearly 11 million people.

Be it a student who is not currently seeking employment opportunities, someone with full-time caring responsibilities or a person experiencing long-term sickness, they may be classed as ‘economically inactive’ which instead of being unemployed means they are not available to work or not actively searching for a role.

The employee lifecycle

As HR professionals, we play a key role in supporting the people in our organisation during each stage of the employee lifecycle and are often the driving force for developing and maintaining support structures to ensure our employees are valued, appreciated and left feeling cared for.

The employee lifecycle involves every stage of interaction a person has whilst on their journey with an organisation, this begins right from the recruitment stage, from the moment someone sees a job advert and decides to apply. With this in mind, it is vital an organisation recognises that each employee has an individual set of circumstances which can impact their working life. Offering flexibility to your employees who have caring responsibilities, who are working parents, who are going through periods of sickness or even if they are navigating their way through a major life change, will be greatly valued and will increase employee engagement, morale and productivity.  Ensure a foundation of trust is recognised both ways, by you as the employer and by the employee for flexibility to be most effective.

Practical steps

It is key to manage and monitor what works and what doesn’t and then adapt accordingly: have regular check-ins with your employees and recognise that things can change; foster a culture that encourages open and honest conversations to ensure you are supporting each individual as best you can. In the same breath, remember that it may sometimes be the employee that needs to lead the conversation as it is up to them how much they are willing to share.

It is important that as an organisation you review and consider if the benefits you offer to your employees are meaningful. Do you offer private healthcare or cashback support on healthcare provisions? Are you offering working parents’ childcare vouchers or support? How flexible are you with compassionate leave, do you take individual circumstances into account? Do you offer enhanced sick pay or parental leave packages? What is your wellbeing support programme? Do you have structure and support in place? Do you offer any financial wellbeing guidance and education?

By incorporating these initiatives into your business, not only will you become more likely an employer of choice, but you will also broaden your pool of applicants given that employees want to balance work and personal commitments.