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Recruitment and HR Blog

Are skills shortages severely damaging your business? Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

30th November 2021

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The CIPD’s recent Resource and Talent Planning Survey sends out a clear message: too many businesses are failing to plan for future staffing needs throughout all levels in their company. Released in September, the survey highlights that less than half (46%) of companies and organisations had a workforce planning strategy based on a sound understanding of their current and future workforce needs. Over two-fifths (43%) were taking an ad hoc, reactive approach to recruitment.

As a consequence, many sectors and businesses are now struggling. A number of factors have contributed to the UK’s skills shortage situation but the lack of resource planning for future skills and staff needs is now being felt particularly acutely. Temporary visas have been introduced to try to tackle low numbers of HGV drivers and poultry workers. Hospitality’s struggling, with some businesses scaling their services back as a result.

There have been problems with seasonal roles, like fruit and veg pickers, where their short-term nature makes them less attractive to many jobseekers. A lot of companies are having to increase hourly rates to try to bring in the people they need. While certain sectors are having a particularly tough time, businesses in general are finding it increasingly hard to fill vacancies. So, if you’re in that position, where do you go from here to make sure skills shortages don’t start harming your business?

It’ll need a blended approach, dealing with the short-term challenges to increase the likelihood of finding the candidates you need, while also taking action to plan for the future. Here are some suggestions about where you can focus your efforts:

Recruiting effectively in the short-term

  • Pay careful attention to your job adverts

Your job advert has to sell your role and generate enough interest so jobseekers take the next step of finding out more, then applying. It needs to provide all the key details potential candidates will want to know, including the job salary. Highlight all the genuine selling points both of your company and of the specific role so it’s as attractive as possible and has the best chance of standing out.

It’s also important to be realistic about what is essential in terms of requirements to prevent limiting the talent pool further. Stop looking for a unicorn!

  • Get your job advert seen by the right people

Are you making sure your advert is appearing in the right space? Don’t be tempted to post it everywhere and hope for the best; think about where candidates are likely to be looking and use carefully targeted campaigns that narrow down the search to suitable applicants while also maintaining the quality. This targeted approach is key for relevance as there are over 1,100 job sites in the UK. It’s all about striking the right balance to get your advert seen by as many of the right candidates as possible.

  • Don’t overcomplicate it

Make sure your recruitment process is as straightforward as possible for potential applicants to apply. Basic rule of thumb: the less clicks needed to submit the application, the more likely it is they’ll apply.

Managing the medium term

  • Upskilling within your current talent pool

Could some of the answers to your skills shortage situation be closer to home than you realise? It won’t necessarily provide an instant solution, but have you explored the possibility of upskilling and promoting within your existing workforce for skilled roles, and then recruiting entry level positions?

You might already have a lot of the employees you need and by rethinking how they can be deployed with some skill set development, you might find the solution is easier than you thought.

  • Retain the talent you already have

It might be time to ramp up your efforts when it comes to retention too. You don’t want to compound the issue of skills shortages by losing people. You might not have scope to do a massive amount with salaries, but salary isn’t the only reason an employee chooses to stay with an employer. Factors such as development opportunities, reward and recognition, approaches to wellbeing, line manager relationships, flexible working opportunities and effective two-way communication are hugely influential too.

Taking the long-term perspective

  • Skills-based succession planning

When it comes to succession planning, don’t simply think in terms of roles and replacements; think in terms of your company’s longer-term goals and the skills that will be needed to deliver them. Match current employees to those skills then use that information as the basis of your plan; by understanding the gaps, you can identify where training, development and recruitment efforts should be focused.

  • Growing your own talent

Rather than having a succession approach that relies on finding the skills you need through external recruitment, a more robust approach could involve developing  your own talent on a longer term basis to create a talent pool that you can tap into for future roles. That might include apprentices, or graduate opportunities maybe where you offer placements during their time at university, with the goal of them then working with you once they finish their degree.

Despite the current challenges we’re helping employers recruit successfully thanks to highly effective targeted job advertising and recruitment marketing and articulation of their employer brand – 95.6% of the vacancies we advertise for UK employers lead to a hire. If you’d like to know more about how our recruitment advertising and marketing expertise can help your company, please get in contact with one of the team. 

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