Recruiting new people is a challenge across businesses of all sizes and in every industry. So, what is at the root of the current issue and more importantly, what can you do to attract the best talent when candidates are thin on the ground?
The problem with recruitment
The bottom line is that recruiting for your business may well be more difficult now than at any point in history. A recent review of the employment situation by the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), showed that 46% of employers currently had ‘hard to fill’ vacancies. In spot areas it was much higher with transport and storage reporting an astonishing 60% of employers as having an issue with employing the right people. Clearly there is a real problem to be dealt with here.
Low unemployment is, of course, the biggest factor when it comes finding the right team. Nationally the unemployment rate is only at around 3.7% and some areas of the UK it is much lower. According the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the East Midlands had the lowest unemployment rate in August 2022 at just 2.4%. For comparison, in July 2021 it was 4.4% but still the lowest in the UK.
The core problem is very clear. There are just not enough potential candidates to go around to fill the 1.2 million vacancies on the UK job boards.
We need to look deeper though because while the headline numbers may well be shocking, they are not the whole story. Candidate attitudes have also changed. Gen-Z employees are entering the workforce in large numbers, and they have a very different outlook to the Millennials that preceded them. While both are generally career driven, the new generation tends to be far more interested in long term development and financial security. We also need to be very aware that work life balance has become more important to many people post pandemic. Remote working and other lifestyle factors are an influence on the decision to change jobs.
At the end of the day we need to be realistic, accept that this isn’t a good time to be looking for new team member, and adjust the way we approach the employment process.
So, what can employers do about their recruitment woes?
It isn’t all gloom and doom and there are potentially a few changes coming that could make things a little easier. The cost of living increase may well have a settling effect on retention by making employees a little less keen to take a risk. Also, in an ironic twist, while a possible recession is not good news overall, it does reduce the number of competing new vacancies as businesses tend to expand less during these times.
We also need to have a little perspective and remember that the current situation is the result of a perfect storm of factors and highly unusual. As with any large scale extraordinary event there tends to be a gradual shift back to a more balanced situation over time. While this may be good news for the future though, that balancing shift will take a while to affect recruitment in a significant way.
Here are a few practical steps that will help encourage candidates to apply for your vacancies.
- Company culture and your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) matter
How important company culture is to prospective employees cannot be underestimated. Potential employees are highly likely to consider the visible culture and EVP before even applying for a job. So, it’s important to not only control, develop and guide a strong company culture, but also to have it visible on your social media, website and other outward facing content. If you need more information on company cultures and Employer Value Propositions, we have a couple of articles in the blog section of our website about understanding, developing and using them effectively.
- Salaries matter and you need to be competitive
We are all feeling the effect of an increasing cost of living and so are the candidates. Many employers are increasing their offer, particularly for hard to fill vacancies, and you need to make sure you are at least meeting market expectations. If you can budget higher then you may well need to do it.
- Upskill from within or split the role
Could you find a suitable candidate from your existing team that could upskill into the vacant role? It is sometimes easier to find a less skilled employee to replace or cover the role previously performed by the team member you are looking to upskill. Another option is to split the role down and outsource a specialist skill until you fill the role or train someone new from within.
- Career development is attractive
All the research about why employees change jobs points to being unfulfilled in their role as a significant factor. Offering a package of development and career growth will therefore attract the more ambitious candidates and potentially tip the passive ones into applying.
- Make your ‘application to offer’ process as short as possible
The traditional methods of employing someone can sometimes be a little slow. Could you, for example, hold a video interview perhaps or arrange an after hours meeting to speed things along? Once the application arrives do you turn paperwork around immediately? As soon as the decision is made, do you make the offer by email, phone call or even a text? The objective is to get the commitment from the candidate without allowing time for another employer to swoop in or a current one to counter offer.
- Be the applicant
This requires a mindset change and can sometimes be a real eye opener. Place yourself in the position of the applicant and consider everything from job spec to onboarding. Does it work for the applicant as a priority?
- Return to workplace candidates and previous employees could be an option
There is a real move at the moment to encourage retired workers to return to the workplace. While retired employees may not want to return full time, they may look to a part time role or help develop current team members for you. There is also nothing to stop reaching out to previous employees who moved on to see if they would be interested in returning. This can need careful handling though as you can easily end up on the back foot in terms of demands by the employee.
- Could you offer a signing bonus to attract candidates from other locations?
As we already mentioned some areas of the country have higher availability of candidates than others. Although it can be an expensive option, a relocation payment could widen your potential candidate pool.
As a final thought, the current situation may be unusual but many of the ideas above are good practice for attracting the best talent at any time. Every business is only as good as the people who work in it, so there is never a bad time to review how you attract and keep talented, career minded, employees.
Call us on 01604 261380 and let’s talk about how we can help you reach out to the best candidates.