It’s been almost a decade since we launched Peopleforce Recruitment, way back in 2013. During that time we’ve helped dozens of businesses, big and small, face their recruitment challenges, across sectors as diverse as aviation, pharmaceuticals and information technology. Throughout all of these industries and inside almost every sector we speak to, we see that they’re now experiencing some of their hardest hiring headaches to date.
British businesses, in particular, have been faced by a double-whammy of difficulties - which are largely none of their own making. Brexit, for starters, has reduced the talent pool across the country, as perhaps made clearest by the shortage of lorry drivers which caused such chaos last summer. And there’s now murmurings from the finance industry – one of Britain’s most highly prized sectors – that we’re facing an imminent shortage in foreign workers.
But it’s not just Brexit bureaucracy that’s to blame for the current skills shortage. The repercussions of COVID-19 have undoubtedly spread into the labour market too.
According to economists we’re now feeling the effects of the ‘Great Resignation’, with employees leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves. In light of the pandemic, older employees are opting for early retirement, while younger staff, backed up by a buffer of lockdown savings, are becoming emboldened and walking away from jobs that don’t meet their demands.
The result of all this is an estimated 1.1 million job vacancies at the last count; the highest level we’ve seen in 20 years. So, if you’re a business that’s looking to hire or simply retain your current staff, what can you do to best face the opportunities and threats posed by this challenging labour market?
In every case, the first step is to look carefully at your employee proposition. While all the issues arising from Brexit are out of your control, one thing that is in your power is creating an attractive place to work. And it doesn’t just come down to offering the best salary. As the ‘Great Resignation’ has shown, in the current job market many workers are seeking something more.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and consider what is most important to them. Is it flexibility around childcare? The ability to work remotely from anywhere? Getting back into the office environment? A four-day working week? One positive thing that the pandemic has shown us is that our ways of working needn’t be as rigid as they used to be, especially in white collar sectors where there’s more opportunity to embrace technology and move to more flexible ways of working.
Above all else try to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, and be willing to adapt. Whatever your business’s new way of working – entirely remote, hybrid or office-based – make this clear to
candidates and your employees from the outset, and consider using your policy as a USP.
If you are embracing remote or hybrid working, just be sure to be mindful of your responsibilities to your employees, and bear in mind that the legislation is ever-changing. Seek professional advice, if needed, and work with industry bodies to protect yourself and your employees.
Elsewhere, it’s also worth reassessing how you care for the wellbeing of your workforce. Another repercussion of the pandemic is that we’re all feeling a lot more vulnerable – both physically and mentally.
One way to address this amongst your staff is to offer enhanced support and perks directly linked to improving their health. Big names including Starbucks and PwC have all taken recent action here by giving staff easy access to mental health professionals or apps, and by following suit you could improve staff performance and retention. This is something Peopleforce has done for many years and we’ve seen the benefits time and again. It will also demonstrate that you’re a caring company, which is increasingly attractive to any employee.
Finally, when you want to attract candidates that are going to stick, consider engaging with a trusted recruitment partner who understands your business. The best recruiters will have access to candidate pools that aren’t readily available, giving you that edge over your competitors.
They’ll also be able to manage the recruitment process from start to finish, and gauge a candidate’s true motivations to ensure that these match. Understandably, this is something which can be often missed when recruitment is the responsibility of the hiring manager (who just wants to fill their vacancy) or the HR team who have 101 other things to deal with.
All too frequently, recruitment happens as a knee-jerk reaction to somebody handing in their notice and the search for a direct replacement begins. However this is the perfect opportunity for you to reassess your requirements and ask some questions such as ‘What is the actual purpose of this role?’, ‘Has the nature of the role changed?’, ‘What value does this position add to the team?’ and most importantly, ‘Why has the person resigned?’. By doing so you will know that you are at least hiring someone for the right reasons.
Post-Covid the hiring landscape has changed forever. And now more than ever companies need to discover what their prospective and current employees want from an employer. Get this right and you might be able to benefit from new talent entering the workforce, while also retaining your current staff. Rather than viewing the ‘Great Resignation’ purely as a threat, view it more as an opportunity to do things better.
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