Innovative Zero Headcount Graduate Scheme with a difference by ea Change

Cancellation of Graduate Schemes in 2020

In the grip of the global pandemic, a swathe of graduate schemes have been axed in a bid to save on costs and dampen the effects of Covid-19. This year, just 18% of graduates are securing jobs compared to the typical 60%[1]. With a deep recession caused by this year’s coronavirus pandemic, almost two in five graduate employers said they expected to hire fewer graduates or none at all in the next 12 months[2].

A reduced budget has not been the only cause for a decrease in graduate recruitment. As offices were vacated and remote working became the new norm, many organisations could not facilitate moving their graduate schemes online whilst offering the same level of training and experience they could usually provide. Large organisations such as HSBC and the BBC are delaying their programmes[3], leaving a large pool of high-level graduates looking for opportunities.

What do graduates offer?

With a median starting salary of £29,000[4], most employers look to employ graduates as a cheaper alternative to an experienced hire, with graduates willing to compromise on finance in order to gain valuable experience within a company. However, the benefits of graduate recruitment stretch much further than this. Recruiting a new generation of talent into your organisation can bring in a fresh and innovative mindset, with young people driven to excel in a new career after being in education for as long as they can remember. As graduates progress through this learning curve, they will also give the company a new perspective – likely to question how and why an approach is used, they can push your company to review existing methods.

Fresh out of university and programmed to learn quickly, graduates are often regarded as a blank canvas. Having not yet been influenced by another organisation, a graduate can be moulded to become a truly embedded part of your culture. These young minds are also adaptable to rapid change, with this level of agility a scarce commodity amongst experienced hires, and an attribute organisations in fast-evolving industries are crying out for.

As gen-Z join the workforce, they are the first wave of employees to have grown up surrounded by computers and the internet from a very early age. A unique generation with technology engrained in their genes, the current cohort of graduates will be the most adept at working with tech to date, and ready to support your company in analysing the latest trends in the digital age.

Challenges of Remote Recruitment and Training

With the ongoing global pandemic comes the need for an agile recruitment and onboarding process that can be taken care of remotely and yet still deliver on requirements. Even though there was a trend for digitalisation of the initial stages of the recruitment process before coronavirus, the complete loss of any face-to-face contact does present challenges.

At the moment many employers have never even met their new employees in person for months after they’ve commenced work – a strange and alien way of working which takes some adjusting to. This adjustment to completely digital recruitment, along with new technologies such as AI and machine learning taking hold in the recruitment process, has led 79% of respondents to say their company struggles to keep on top of technology changes within recruitment in a survey conducted by Forbes[5].

The remote on-boarding of a new employee can also be tough, making it hard to get to know the team, and making co-workers less available to assist than if they were in the same room. Onboarding is made even harder by current budget constraints, with 51% of employers cutting training budgets due to Covid-19[6]. This makes it all the more important that you obtain the best candidate for the job, with proven ability to ensure this process runs smoothly. A greater weight is being put on skills such as problem solving, self-discipline and being a good self-starter, as this skill set is essential to enable a successful start in a remote role.

Problems with Conventional Graduate Schemes

Risk associated with running a traditional graduate scheme is discouraging top firms from implementing this approach. Even before the effects of the global pandemic graduate recruitment was slowing down dramatically, with the Institute of Student Employers reporting in January 2020 that employers were planning to increase graduate-level recruitment by just 3%, in comparison to an 18% rise the previous year[7]. Lack of return on graduate investment can leave employers out of pocket, ploughing money and time into recruitment and training in the hope that graduates will stick with the company for years to come, only for them to up and leave at the end of their scheme, taking their skills and experience with them. Even if they choose to stay on, managers are often frustrated by the rotational nature of a traditional graduate scheme, with knowledge being lost when graduates move on to a different business area after months of training.

The structure of a conventional graduate scheme does not always meet the talent supply needs of the business. Inflexible timeframes which work to fit in with the academic year are often not aligned to a project’s start, so graduate talent is not trained and available when it is really needed. Organisations receive a huge influx of applications for internally run graduate schemes, therefore requiring dedicated teams to filter the applications and run the recruitment process. This also means that managers within the business often do not meet the graduate until they are employed within their teams.

In times when recruitment budgets have been slashed and a low headcount is key, the recruitment and training costs of a traditional graduate scheme are not feasible, and because of this many companies have completely written off the idea of graduate recruitment this year.

Why it is still worth investing in Graduates right now

Whilst the economy has been badly hit by the impact of Covid-19, this downturn will not last forever. With the end of lockdown in sight, the Bank of England have predicted GDP will recover rapidly towards pre-Covid levels over 2021, and confidently forecast growth of 7.25% in 2022[8]. There is a danger that companies who have skimped on their usual intake of graduates will soon be scrambling to meet their recruitment needs as growth returns to businesses over the next two years.

ea Futures Programme

The ea Futures programmes is a cost-effective and flexible graduate recruitment solution for companies looking to build a future high-performance change pipeline. Our ‘project analysts’ are hand-picked from a pool of high potential graduates with at least a 2:1 degree from a Russell Group university.

The recruitment process is completely taken care of by ea Change, as well as training in soft and hard skills and facilitation of industry recognised certifications and accreditations. By absorbing the initial cost of taking on a recent graduate and supplying deployment-ready project analysts, we offer an alternative to a traditional graduate scheme on a much tighter budget. They become part of the ea family and get deployed on-site with a client on a 12- or 24-month contract to be a project analyst.

The project analysts are employed by us, reducing the risk shouldered by you and having no effect on permanent headcount. After their fixed term, we charge no transfer fee should you decide to take them on as a permanent employee, but there is also no commitment to employment – effectively giving you the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’. Our project analysts can be on-boarded within challenging timeframes, working with your business’s resource demand.

If you would like to know more about our project analyst scheme, please gives us a call or email us to find out more.








[1] J. Jones. “The uncertain present and future for recent graduates.” (Accessed Feb. 19th, 2021)

[2] S. Weale. “Majority of UK employers have had to cancel work experience due to Covid-19.” (Accessed Feb. 19th, 2021)

[3] [Unknown author]. “Don’t let graduate schemes fall behind in the wake of Covid-19.” (Accessed Feb. 19th, 2021)

[4] M. Grove. “Graduate salaries in the UK.” (Accessed Feb. 22nd, 2021)

[5] C. Day. “Transforming Talent Acquisition Starts Yesterday.” (Accessed Feb. 23rd, 2021)

[6] C. Ball. “UK graduate labour market update: 17 February.” (Accessed Feb. 23rd, 2021)

[7] K. Makortoff. “UK employers will offer fewer entry-level jobs in 2020, figures suggest.” (Accessed Feb. 22nd, 2021)

[8] J. Rojas. “UK economy will ‘recover rapidly’ as vaccines are rolled out this year, Bank of England predicts.” (Accessed Feb. 24th, 2021)

The Future of Work – is the office environment dead?

Recently the BBC World Services put together a panel to discuss the future of work.

Hosted by Katya Adler

The panel included.

  • Nicolas Schmit: EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights
  • Molly Kinder: David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Programme
  • Manish Bahl: Senior Director, Centre for the Future of Work at Cognizant, Asia Pacific
  • Ivan Petrella: Former Director of Argentina 2030. Fellow of the Center for Internet and Society – Harvard University

On the podcast, they discussed whether we will ever go back to full-time working from an office again or will all offices be virtual going forward.

The Pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work, millions of people had to abruptly start working from home at the beginning of the pandemic and the majority are reluctant to go back into the office.

What will this mean for the future of work and how will it impact both employers and staff?

Ivan Petrella said the death of the office is exaggerated, human beings by nature are social creatures and like being together. He believes the office is here to stay as people are the most productive when with other people.

Another of the panel participants Manish Bahl thinks that the new normal post-pandemic will be a virtual environment and in-person meetings as and when needed. He believes that working from home is now the norm and firmly established and given rise to “remotopia” what remotopia means is remote working is the norm and can imagine homes of the future being built with home offices and current homes being retrospectively fitted with a home office. He agrees that the notion of the office is not dead but the idea of spending 40-50 hours a week will certainly be a thing of the past.

Molly Kinder was surprised how quickly her 5-year got up to speed in remote learning and her 75-year-old mother also was able to use video conferencing technology to communicate the majority of 2020. She believes we have embraced a digital world far greater than she anticipated. Although she also agrees that we are all missing human interactions, and we can see where some of these interactions are nowhere near the real thing. However, virtual doctor appointments are easy and perhaps instead of having to fly across the world to present at conferences, we can now do this at home which gives you more opportunity to present at a variety of events.

Molly Kinder also highlighted that when we talk about the ability to work from home, we are talking about white-collar jobs and that the lower and even middle-wage workers don’t have the luxury of working from home.

Nicolas Schmit thinks some meeting will continue virtually but thinks especially in the political sphere that they will move back to face to face meetings, even though as the host Katya Adler mentioned there has been criticism of these types of meetings where they talk about the future of the good of the world but take planes that are environmentally damaging. He also said he thinks we will move into a more hybrid model of working going forward. He added that he thinks companies will save money on office space and it will mean the reorganisation of our city centres.

The panel seemed to have mixed views on the future of work and although some would like a hybrid model, it may be hard to implement with clear guidelines of when you must be in the office and what is the value of you being there.

What are companies implementing in the UK post-pandemic?

The Future We also take a look further at the market companies and building societies are transforming their relationships with their employees for example Nationwide Building Society recently announced that 13,000 employees can work from anywhere when the pandemic is over. They have decided to implement this strategy after 57% of staff said they wanted to work from home full-time, a third (36%) wanted to have a hybrid model and only 6% wanted to go back into the office full-time. As staff will now be working from home as a result Nationwide will be closing three offices it has been leasing in Swindon.

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England recently remarked that office working would never return to pre-pandemic patterns.

PWC recently announced you’ll be able to work from home a couple of days a week and start as early or late as you like. This summer you can knock off early on Fridays too. PwC chairman Kevin Ellis said he hoped this would make flexible working “the norm rather than the exception”.

According to City AM HSBC plans to halve office space globally and hot-desking when in the office will be the new normal. In the UK, in Canary Wharf they also plan to scrap the 42nd floor for executives. “Our offices were empty half the time because we were traveling around the world. That was a waste of real estate,” chief executive Noel Quinn told the Financial Times. “If I’m asking our colleagues to change the way that they’re working, then it’s only right that we change the way we’re working.”

Some of the UK largest lenders also plan to cut nearly 40% of their office space.

Lloyds Banking Group advised that it plans to cut 20% of its office space after surveying their employees showed 78% of its 68,000 staff advised they prefer to always work from home.

Barclays Chief executive Jes Staley last April seemed to agree with the idea of reducing real estate but has since then seemed to have reevaluated “putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past” to now showing resistance to the idea of giving up the office space. He said in February 2021 “it’s remarkable it’s working as well as it is, but I don’t think it’s sustainable.” In the City AM he was quoting as saying in February 2021 “It is important to get people back together in physical concentrations. We want our people back together, to make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture and our controls, and I think that will happen over time.”

Standard Chartered will also cut a third of its space within four years, while Metro Bank said it would cut some 40% and make more use of branches.

David Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, has called working from home an “aberration”, adding that it “is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal.”

JPMorgan has also noticed a pattern with its work-from-home employees. Chief executive Jamie Dimon reportedly told analysts that productivity was particular affected on Mondays and Fridays and for its younger employees. However, he recently outlined Hybrid plans for some employees: “As a result, for every 100 employees, we may need seats for only 60 on average. This will significantly reduce our need for real estate”.

And it is not just the banks that are cutting office space, the insurance company Aviva has also advised it will reduce office space by 30% by the end of 2021.

Re-evaluating office space

KMPG recently did a survey of 500 firms globally with CEOs which found more than three-quarters of chief executives also wanted the government to encourage people to return to offices before employers themselves started to request it and that they wanted vaccination rates to exceed half the population before they started to encourage staff back to the office.

The pandemic is acting as the catalyst for changes that were already afoot, says FreeOfficeFinder. Remote working was on the rise prior to the pandemic, and according to a Gartner survey of company leaders, 80% plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part-time following the pandemic.

But it’s not just remote working that is prompting companies to seek out smaller spaces. In the short-term at least, FreeOfficeFinder predicts companies will favour private or self-contained offices over open-plan coworking areas for hygiene reasons: it’s easier to control footfall and the risk of cross-contamination is lower.

In the Financial Times they predict a hybrid approach with a mix of office and home-based working. The hope in many companies is that this sort of working pattern will allow employees to do focused work at home, reduce commutes and enable them to better balance professional and personal lives. In turn, offices will become a destination for innovation, collaboration, networking, coaching and socializing.

The future of work looks to be a Hybrid model for most.

It seems that most companies are favouring a hybrid model of work, but this comes with its own challenges and needs structure and processes so that everyone is clear with what is expected on them in the post-pandemic working environment. Without clear structure, processes, and guidance, teams will set their own agendas and could mean people who work from home miss out on being part of the decision-making process. Danny Harmer, chief people officer at Aviva, the UK insurer said “if companies don’t issue clear guidance, she worries that it will lead to presenteeism in the office”.

However Quora is suggesting a different solution for both the office employees and the remote employees join meetings from their laptops so no one is left out of the meeting Adam D’Angelo, Quora’s CEO, says it “is a much better experience for everyone in the meeting since they can see everyone’s face clearly, ensures everyone is on a level playing field . . . and prevents the side conversations and crosstalk that make remote employees feel excluded when half the team is joining from an office video conferencing room”.

The office environment is not dead, but it does need to adapt.

Hybrid working looks to be the way of the future but in order for it to work a variety of actions need to be taken for companies to be successful in the new way of working.

Offices need to be adapted to provide more rooms with the technology to support large video conferences from home workshops.

There needs to be processes in place, so everyone has the ability to participate in their team environment.

Employers need to outline clearly what they expect from employees in the future and how often they expect to see them in the office if at all.

New processes will need to be implemented to support the Hybrid culture, what does that mean for the current culture, and is it still fit for purpose?

The new Hybrid working will require training for all the managers and the employees to feel comfortable that they can work from home without feeling expected to come into the office.

As with every change made in business, the hybrid model will be ever-evolving and transforming over the coming years, but the key point is to remember is to listen to your employees and keep them involved in the planning and implantation of the new way of working.

About us

ea Change are experts in business transformation, if you would like support in creating or delivering this new way of working, please give us a call or send us an email , and someone in our team would be happy to help.

10 tips for successful change management project

Big or small, change efforts seem to run into the same brick walls over and over again. According to various pieces of research, such as the Harvard Business Review and Forbes and people such as John Kotter70% of change projects fail.

Here are 10 tips for a successful change management project.

  1. Your why is imperative, map out why you want to make the change and how you envisage it adding value for all those impacted by the change programme.
  2. Map out your end goal and timeline with phases, however, expect it to change and evolve over the life-cycle of the project.
  3. Executive buy-in paramount, engage your leaders and articulate that this change is urgent. People need to know that your executive team is on board and aligned with the vision of the transformation. Leaders must commit to exhibiting a positive outlook and willingness to change behaviour as well as processes.
  4. Create a team of change-makers and ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities for creating, testing and implementing.
  5. Communication is key, think about how the change project will impact your audience and tailor the message accordingly by employing targeted communication plans that engage and motivate your employees through the life-cycle of the project and give them an understanding of why the change is taking place and how the change will impact them.
  6. Work with middle management, provide them with the tools and understanding as to why the change is taking place and get them on board to share a positive message with their teams.
  7. Implement the technology that is right for you and your plans for the future, the technology needs to be one that people see the advantages and that will save time for employees to be able to focus on the important things such as provide a better customer experience.
  8. Have metrics that you can track and provide guidance on how your team can achieve these as this will help them be motivated towards the goals.
  9. Celebrate successes and communicate them to the wider employees and make them feel part of the journey.
  10. Effective training is non-negotiable, you must ensure that the employees feel they have the right level of support and that the tools they have been provided make things easier not harder to do their job.

And There You Have It! 10 Tips on How to Manage Change Successfully

Follow the processes and get other’s buy-in and it should have a huge impact and if you need any help give us a call or send us an email.