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The war for talent is about to get even tougher

Published 5th Dec 2019

Is your business ready to battle for the best skills out there?

It’s a busy time for recruitment. Christmas is a peak period for lots of businesses. With new budgets in place for the new year, many companies will then be focusing on getting skills in place so they’re prepared for the challenges the next year brings. But all the signs are that this isn’t going to be easy. The battle to get the right people with the right skills looks set to get even tougher than it is now.

Employment rates are high. Many sectors are struggling to find the right staff to fill vacancies. The latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook reports that 67% of companies currently hiring are struggling to fill at least some of their vacancies. 43% of employers have found it more difficult to fill vacancies in the past year.

And while many of us might be pretty fed up with hearing the B-word, it’s difficult to talk about what seems set to be an escalating war for talent without mentioning the Brexit effect. There’s no escaping it; Brexit’s already having an impact and it’s likely to be felt even more acutely once we leave the EU. The talent pool’s going to reduce and the battle for the best talent available is going to get tougher, especially for sectors that have traditionally relied on a high proportion of EU nationals making up their workforce, like hospitality and retail.

Where does all this leave companies? First of all, it means they need to work extra hard to retain the people they have now. And it also means they need to seriously up their game when it comes to attracting new talent into their business.

Holding on to your talent

The war for talent is as much about hanging on to the talent you already have as it is about looking for new people. That might mean taking a long hard look at the day to day working environment and culture you have, and asking some challenging questions that need honest answers…

What are you doing to help employees feel cared for? You might say their wellbeing genuinely matters to your organisation – but would they? Do you have a culture which genuinely supports employees with achieving a work life balance by giving them flexibility over things like working hours perhaps, or remote working? Do people feel they’re being listened to?

Wellbeing’s in the spotlight, and lots of companies are trying to improve it. But they’re often not getting it. We’re not talking about providing bowls of fruit. We’re talking about making health and wellbeing a central part of the culture. It needs to be a value that’s brought to life by giving people time, genuinely listening to and caring about them, and making sure people feel accepted for who they are on any given day.

Happy teams perform at their optimum. Their environment, the culture and the company’s values enable this. It’s about having a true commitment to your teams thriving and giving them the tools to be at their best at home and work. It’s telling employees they’re appreciated too. How well are people recognised for their effort and accomplishments in your workplace? It can be full blown recognition programmes, it can be taking the time to regularly say thank you but are you making sure it happens? We know what we’re talking about here – we’ve seen amazing bottom line results and the lowest turnover ever by making this whole approach a core part of what makes us McCarthy.

People development’s essential too. There might be limits to opportunities for direct career progression but it’s not only about moving upwards in the company. Are you training and developing people to achieve their maximum potential in what they’re doing right now? There are all kinds of ways you can give people opportunities to grow in their role other than just formal training: coaching, mentoring, assignments on projects they really want to be involved in, job rotation… these are all the kinds of things that’ll engage employees and make them less tempted to look outside. If they feel valued and fulfilled, it’s far more likely they’ll want to stay.

What’s your employer value proposition and how well are you selling it?

But what about when it comes to bringing in external candidates? Is your external employer value proposition good enough? Companies are going to be relying on their EVP more and more over the next few months to attract the very best talent out there. To be blunt, the ‘post and pray’ technique will not cut it.

Even businesses with great company reputations need to reflect on what kind of reputation they have as employers. Companies invest a lot in marketing their brand, but don’t always think about their brand as an employer. Recruitment isn’t simply about the candidate selling themselves to a company. It’s about the employer selling themselves to the candidate too.

In this transparent, social media driven age what will candidates see when they go to check you out as a company (and believe us, they will!)? It’s not difficult nowadays to see whether the image that’s being portrayed about your company matches the reality of what’s going on inside it. They’ll want to know what kind of a culture they’ll be working in and whether it’s one that makes it a good place to be.

Even if you’re not in a position to offer dazzling levels of pay, there are probably lots of other great things on offer. So many companies have some fantastic non-financial benefits and perks that help make their company a great place to be but don’t think about articulating it as much as they could. But to win the war for the talent they want, they need to be telling people about it. So get shouting and encourage your employees to do the same!

One final tip. Take a careful look at the way you induct your new recruits. It’s intensely frustrating and expensive to put time and effort into attracting and recruiting the right people – to then lose them within a matter of 12 months or so. This is a lot more common than you might realise and often it can be attributed to inadequate induction and onboarding practices. So beware…

Are you confident that when you need to bring new talent into your business, you’re ready for the challenge? Are your induction processes working as well as they could? And do you feel your retention strategies are working as successfully as you want them to? Get in touch today for more advice about adapting your recruitment and retention strategies to attract and keep the right people.

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