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Recruitment and Retention

Liz Chiva

Hallidays HR Director
17/01/2022

Have you found you are struggling to recruit? Fear not, you are not alone!

Cast your mind back to March 2020 and the first UK lockdown - and you will doubtless recall the very genuine fears that the nation would be left with record levels of unemployment post-crisis. Yet in September 2021 the UK’s employment market looks anything but oversupplied with potential candidates. In fact, the recruitment of new employees has become a very real challenge for employers across an increasingly wide range of business sectors.

It would appear that employees are still hesitant to switch roles and sectors. A recent report found that whilst hiring activity continued to increase, the growth in new appointments has significantly slowed.

In the last few months the nation has witnessed job vacancies reach a record high, average earnings rise rapidly, and some employers have even resorted to offering ‘joining’ bonuses such is the urgency and need for new recruits.

Why so few candidates?

So, what has driven such a dramatic and unexpected change in the recruitment market?

There are perhaps some key factors to consider:

  1. There is clearly a shift in peoples thinking, as a result of the pandemic. People have considered what they want out of a job and want to be in a role that they love doing. Additionally, an unspecified but probably not insignificant number of workers have either opted to retire early or leave the labour force altogether as a direct result of the pandemic. 
  2. There is the impact of Brexit. Five years of political hiatus finally reached a conclusion on the 1st January last year, and whilst the statisticians may never be entirely clear as to how many EU nationals have left the UK since the referendum, it seems likely that estimates of around 1 million workers might not be far off the mark.
  3. Furthermore, people may be fearful of leaving their current job, due to the increased insecurity this brings. People will be mindful that starting a new role, means they are not entitled to redundancy or have employment rights, until having completed 2 years’ service.

Are you struggling to retain your top talent?

Whilst it may appear contradictory, it would also seem that businesses are also struggling to retain their top talent. Employees are quitting in droves, spurring the “Great Resignation” and hobbling employers’ retention efforts.

It is reported that almost a quarter of workers are actively planning to change employers in the next few months, prompted by a high number of vacancies and burnout caused by the pandemic.

A survey of 6,000 workers found that 69% of them were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, with 24% planning a change within three to six months.

Such a move will have considerable cost implications for employers and therefore businesses need to start looking at whether they need to improve pay and other conditions to help them retain their best staff.

What can you do to retain your top talent?

A recent report found that boosting pay was not the sole answer to improving productivity. Job seekers need to feel confident that the skills and qualifications they’ve gained in one sector are valued in another. So, what can you do:

  • Competitive offer: Employers need to make sure their employment offer is competitive, looking at a range of benefits beyond salary.
  • Salary benchmarking: Have you considered what your competitors are paying? Or what benefits they offer? Do you know what the market rate for your sector/industry is?
  • Hybrid/Flexible working options: Do you offer remote working or hybrid working opportunities? (if appropriate). One study shows that 65% of employees are willing to take pay cuts to work entirely from home. Another study reveals that 83% of employees prefer a hybrid work model, which enables them to sometimes work remotely and sometimes onsite.
  • Are you different to other businesses: With the amount of competition about for top talent, it’s important to differentiate yourself as a business, and to promote this?
  • Listen: It is important that you keep listening to your existing employees. What matters to them? Do you carry out 1 to 1 meetings? PDRs? Employee Opinion Surveys?
  • Training and development: Ensure you give your employees the resources they need to stay motivated and productive. This could be training, ongoing feedback, professional development, team collaboration and career development opportunities. Most people want a promotion, but you may not currently have the means or structure available to warrant this, but you can still create visible career opportunities to attract talented people. 
  • Flexible benefits: Ensure benefit packages suit all staff. This is crucial to protect productivity and encourage loyalty for the long term.
  • Non-financial incentives: The power of small tokens – if salary increases are just not in scope, is there anything else you could offer your employees to reward and/or recognise their achievements and commitment? Do you offer health and wellbeing benefits? Are they fit for purpose? While good pay will remain a draw for employees, demonstrating care for an employee’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will play an important part in guaranteeing their commitment to the business.
  • Review of recruitment process: Consider how and where your jobs are advertised. Are you getting lots of applications from a range of backgrounds? Do you advertise that you offer some form of flexible working (if applicable) such as remote working, home working or part-time hours? You could be missing out on a huge pool of talent by not mentioning upfront what flexible working options you offer. Are your interviews fit for purpose? Would value based interviews work better?
  • Exit interviews: This strategy can help you figure out how many people are leaving and why. You can then hopefully put changes in place to keep others from leaving.
  • Grow your own talent: Have you considered Apprenticeships? They are a great way to recruit new talent, that want to learn and develop themselves. Could you benefit from the apprenticeship levy?
  • Overseas workers: Have you considered recruiting from overseas? Would it be beneficial for you to get a sponsorship license?
  • Offshoring: Could you relocate a part of your business to another country? This is a great way to tap into a skilled workforce, for a fraction of the cost.

Greater Manchester’s Good Employment Charter

The Good Employment Charter is an initiative which aims to raise the employment standards in Greater Manchester, regardless of business size, sector or geography.

It is an accreditation based on 7 characteristics:

  • Secure Work: employees that have security over their income and have the ability to plan & budget each month.
  • Flexible Work: working arrangements that give some flexibility over how long, where and when employees work.
  • Real Living Wage: this is how much people need to get paid to get by (which is often more than the National Living Wage). It is currently set at £9.90 per hour.
  • Engagement & Voice: providing information to people at work, enabling them to stay informed, have their say and be involved in the decision-making process.
  • Recruitment: transparent, inclusive and fair recruitment practices – embracing diversity.
  • People Manager: excellent people management skills and practices whereby employees are empowered, developed and engaged.
  • Health & Wellbeing: providing physical, mental and financial support.

Levels of membership:

  • Supporter: firstly, you sign up to become a ‘Supporter’ – this is a commitment to continually improve and work towards the standards of the charter in each category. It requires you to fill in a self-assessment form to gain a true understanding of where you are right now in each of the characteristics, and where the gaps are. This form has to be filled in within 3-months of becoming a supporter, but then there is no time limit to which you have to become a member. There is support from the Charter on your journey, with various tools, resources and events to help you. 
  • Member: You have to reach the required standard in all 7 characteristics before you can be considered for membership. Once you have reached the required standard, it is assessed by the Board and they decide whether you have passed.. If so, you will then be made a fully-fledged member of the Charter.

There is no cost to be being a ‘Supporter’ or a ‘Member’ and it will do wonders for your reputation, culture and profitability! It is so hard right now to find and retain talent, so anything you can do to help with this is a plus. The Charter will provide you with a logo to use at each stage, so that you can advertise what a fantastic employer you are, and all the commitments you have made.

It may feel like a daunting thing, but we are here to support you along the way. We can liaise with the Charter on your behalf and feedback any actions that are required. Meaning that you get all of the benefits without any of the headache.

If you’re interested in hearing more, then please get in touch. 

You can also visit the Good Employment Charter website for more information: https://www.gmgoodemploymentcharter.co.uk

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

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