According to reports, in 2021 the UK was battling with its worst candidate shortage since 1997. And the challenge is double pronged. Not only did employers have a stagnant market to contend with but the real effects of Brexit had begun to rear their head and were adding more strain to the issue. Complications around immigration rules and border control, as well as the fact that 1.3 million non-EU workers left the country when the pandemic struck, meant that many businesses were stuck with plenty of opportunities but no-one to fill them.
According to a poll of 5,700 British businesses, over half (52 per cent) have said they have tried to hire staff over the three months leading up to June 2021. Construction, hospitality, catering, and manufacturing are reported to be the worst hit with issues also being seen across engineering, IT, Technology, Accounting and Finance.
Frustratingly, there’s no hard and fast way to resolve this problem. However, as a business, there are a few things you can do help yourself in the short-term to manage the hurdle of a talent shortage.
Over the last three months, we have started to see the interim market recover, with companies turning to temporary or interim staff to help them plug the gaps in the workforce as the hunt for permanent staff remains challenging.
From being able to fill spaces within the team quickly, to integrating experienced workers whose seasoned knowledge can respond to changing consumer demand efficiently, interim roles should most certainly be a consideration for all companies during this difficult time.
Additionally, there will be some temporary workers in the market currently who, if they found the right role for them, may be inclined to become permanent later. A win-win situation.
Keep using Government schemes to stay afloat
Just because the country is looking to new pastures, it doesn’t mean companies should stop accepting help where it’s needed. The Government’s Kickstart Scheme is currently due to keep running until the end of 2021, but there are murmurs it may be extended into 2022 depending on the economic climate.
By law, those hired under the Kickstart Scheme must be given at least 25 hours of work a week for a minimum of six months. They must be paid a minimum of National Minimum Wage and be given basic training.
While schemes such as these aren’t going to supply you with experienced mid-level or senior management candidates, it will provide you with the manpower to support workload and keep profits afloat.
Look at your salary bands
There’s no denying that candidates are currently in control of the job market. And the desperation from so many employers to hire has meant the UK is witnessing the sharpest salary inflation in nearly a quarter of a century.
Candidates won’t be willing to move for a salary that doesn’t match the current state of economic play. If you’re still offering the same salary bands as you were five years ago, you’re going to struggle to fill your vacancies.
However, on this note, be careful not to overinflate your salaries too much. While yes, the current market calls for higher salaries and a vastly different set of workplace benefits than perhaps we would have seen a decade ago, your business’s sustainability must remain at the forefront. There is no point offering salaries that your company cannot cope with paying in the short and long-term, or else you risk there being no company at all.
Acquiring new talent may be an issue the country faces for the next six to 12 months depending on a variety of factors such as vaccine uptake, virus variants and Brexit rules. So, it’s crucial you don’t just depend on recruitment efforts to remain buoyant.
Take the time to invest in your current staff and offer training sessions to build upon, or create new, skills. From harder, technical skills to those all-important soft skills, aim to ensure that your current team have the abilities and experience under their belt to not only progress professionally, but personally too. It’ll do wonders to your business’s bottom line, and it’ll undoubtedly boost workplace satisfaction for all involved.
There’s no denying that the next two quarters and perhaps heading into the New Year will be difficult. However, there’s lots of contingency plans that can be put in place to make the journey as smooth as possible and ensure your business remains stable.