When it comes to the skills shortage, let’s start with the good news….Santa is fine. At the North Pole; Santa has the correct number of elves, with the correct skills and qualifications (carpentry, logistics, cookie making and reindeer husbandry) that ensures he will keep his side of the bargain this Christmas. But, that’s Santa. For the rest of us the current skills shortage is a bigger problem.
Walk down the high street, listen to the news or chat to anyone involved in recruitment – the skills shortage is real and it is biting hard. It is impacting business and disrupting lives. The headlines have focused on haulage firms lacking drivers to deliver food and gifts to shops, or abattoirs not having the butchers to process turkeys. These are good, old-fashioned topical stories that create alarm and sell newspapers. The reality is that every industry, seemingly at every level, cannot find the staff. Sometimes that really does have serious repercussions.
Why is there a skills shortage? Well Brexit, Covid and furlough is the short answer. We have had a million EU workers leave the UK. Simultaneously we have record low numbers of immigrants arriving. Covid and furlough allowed everyone to reassess their meaning in life and decide to change direction….and then “BANG”…the world economy tries to reboot and we just don’t have the workers where we need them.
The ‘why’ doesn’t actually matter. Let the media, academics and economists ponder the minutiae. We’re here to tell you how to actually find staff in the current skills shortage.
Competitive Rewards Package
Basic question; Is your salary offering competitive and when did you check those details?
The first reaction to the current skill shortage was for many employers to throw money at the problem. 10%, 15%, 20%…25% extra? ‘What increase will it take’ we were asked? Money isn’t everything and it doesn’t address the problem. If no one is looking for work, if no one reads your job advert…well, write any salary you like! However, if just one candidate does read your advert – you don’t want them to laugh at the rewards package and then apply to one of your competitors.
Just keep a watching brief is our advice. Certain industries have seen a real spike in the wages paid and others haven’t. You just don’t want to be the last kid on the block who makes a change because the war could be lost by then. Take warehouse staff…if you are in this sector be aware some of your competitors are offering a 3k signing-on incentive. Maybe it does come with catches…but how does your offering stack-up against it?
Furthermore, be prepared for some salary negotiations. Candidates are in demand and receiving several offers simultaneously. What seems to happen is a bidding war can breakout…and it is driven by the rich and/or the desperate! The winners are the job seekers.
Hire Tomorrows Star Today
Plenty of organisations have an adversity to training! There I said it, and trust me it’s true. Too often the hiring manager looks at a CV and tells me they lack experience here, or they lack exposure to a specific commercial activity that they want. Well, how much experience would be acceptable…six months, maybe a year?
You hire on character and train the skills in a skills shortage.
Just weight things up. It could very easily take another 3 months to find the “perfect” candidate – if they even exist. They could have a 3 month notice period…..are your training and support systems so poor that you can’t give the right exposure to an up an coming go-getter?
Don’t think about the spiritual rewards here, don’t think about the value in nurturing your own…just think over the fundamentals of filling a gap with someone who in 12 months’ time will be a superstar in exactly the mould you wanted.
Back yourself to take the candidate with the right character and shape them as you want.
Let’s be frank…..events from the last 18 months has meant remote working is pretty much the new norm.
Geography doesn’t need to restrict your search for talent…unless you choose it to be that way. The 3:2 diet is all the rage…3 days at home and 2 days at the office…or is it the other way round? Anyway, many captains of industry seem to be against it. They want that office populated! I understand their thoughts. But, in some form, remote working seems to be here to stay.
Therefore, widen the geographic barriers. Be clear about what your expectations are, and you maybe surprised. Some employees are comfortable with a long commute a couple of times a week.
Use remote working as an opportunity to tap into candidates you may not otherwise have been able to.
If the right application hits your desk – you move quickly. The early bird really does win in the current market.
Taking your time and pondering about someone hobbies and interests is not helping you win the war for talent during a skill shortage.
Candidates have multiple options being thrown at them all the time. Do not leave them exposed to those offers. You progress their application as quickly as possible. Hit them with a decent job offer. Make it clear you think they are exactly the candidate your organisation needs and you onboard them.
If you haven’t read out guide on how to hire quickly…maybe now is the time!
Part Time Options
One aspect of the work force that is being neglected is part time staff. There is talent in abundance that is literally gagging to be spoken to….yet no one does.
Mums returning to work, senior professionals wanting to reduce their hours in the autumn of their career, or students needing income. I don’t mind what the rationale for part time work is, I just want a solid reason behind the decision.
If you can carve up a role so it can be part time or maybe a job share then suddenly you open a new pool of talent.
Those seeking part time work have struggled to find roles that mirror their career aspirations. Part timers have become the solution to the anti-social hours full timers don’t want to work. The pay is poor, and the intellectual and spiritual rewards weak! This creates an opportunity you can capitalise on.
If you can offer something beyond the normal part time jobs, you could be onto a winner!
Broaden your Advertising
Are you a one trick pony? Is it one advert on one job board, sit back and wait for the avalanche of CVs…which is not happening?
Broaden your horizons. Organisations have become much better at the HR/recruitment teams working with the marketing/communication teams. It’s not rocket science. These guys have communications channels that I bet you are not using. Social media, newsletters, corporate statements…recruitment needs to piggyback on these channels.
We will have all seen advertising or corporate branding where a section is given up to “join our team” or “we are recruiting”. This did not happen by accident. It happened because this organisation saw recruitment as a key issue to be overcome. That message is written on the back of vehicles, receipts, sales brochures…in fact it is consistently posted on every customer contact available.
Think bigger and think different to attract talent
Bring in the Professionals
Recruitment agencies – YES. Bizarrely your local recruitment agency should have their finger on the pulse! Use their knowledge, resources and skills. Or put another way – outsource the problem for someone else to solve!
A good recruitment agency will know how to engage with your target candidates. They will also be honest about the barriers you face and whether you are being unrealistic in your recruitment brief. Tap into this knowledge.
Okay, the big barrier to using an agency can be cost. But, do your research and ask about costings up front before you commit to anything. Read our guide on how to select your recruitment agency for some hints and tips.
The skills shortage is not just for Christmas and it is not about to go away. If you need to find staff then relying on the same tried and tested methods is probably not going to work in the current market. Be mindful of your job offerings, think differently and work the problem is the key messages….and have a very Merry Christmas!
About The Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency in Brighton and Aldershot that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a master’s in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.