As the UK and the rest of the world recover from the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic employers are finding it increasingly harder to find the talent they are seeking to fill vacancies. Mark Hall, MD of SRS Recruitment, sponsor of the Supplier Account Manager of the Year at the BM awards, explains.

The Covid-19 pandemic coupled with Brexit have created a ‘perfect storm’ where individuals are hesitant about moving to a new employer as people are no longer sure what could happen in the next week - never mind in the next five years - and prefer to remain in what they consider to be a ‘safe’ position.

Putting things into perspective the recruitment industry has identified the following contributing factors:

  • Vacancies increased 20% between quarter four 2020 and quarter one 2021
  • Applicants per vacancy have fallen 34% year on year
  • Only one million EU Nationals have been given permission to remain
  • Baby Boomers are now at retirement age.

Many employers consider as a result of Covid-19 there are numerous candidates seeking new opportunities, this is not the case.

Attracting top talent

1 Consider the requirements of the role.

With the realisation that remote work is a viable option, it is recommended that a full review of the requirements for a vacant role should be analysed by employers. Consideration should be given to remote working or a hybrid solution where an employee can operate away from the office for a specific period of time per week or month. They can also utilise the latest telephony and video conferencing solutions to ensure they can operate effectively.

In addition to attracting and retaining talent, companies need to communicate their organisation’s stance on key social issues. Candidates in today’s market are more likely to seek out companies that actively work to advance issues or causes that are important to them.

2 Improve inefficiencies in the hiring process

Highly sought after talent may be pursuing multiple opportunities as companies battle for the best and the brightest. Creating a more efficient hiring process can improve the likelihood that, when an offer is presented, your company is chosen over the competition. 

To improve your hiring process:

  • Ensure job descriptions are realistic and accurately reflect the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job
  • Provide a clear overview of the organisation and its values to candidates
  • Revisit the interview process to ensure it is streamlined, structured, and objective.

Lastly, hiring managers should strive to maintain open lines of communication and have all the necessary information needed to make an informed decision. 

3 Setting a recruitment strategy

When considering a recruitment strategy, careful consideration should be taken into the effectiveness of the strategy in both results and costs to your business. Analyse the cost of advertising along with costs incurred by your staff who are spending time analysing suitability of applicants, discussing the role with applicants, rejecting unsuitable applicants, arranging interviews and managing the interview process - along with negotiating salary packages and handling counter offers etc. These costs are much higher than companies realise.

Many employers are now engaging the services of specialist recruiters who have experience and knowledge of the industry they operate in as they are able to access a large talent pool consisting of suitable individuals they will have built up relationships with over many years.

Retaining top talent

Retaining top talent is just as important as hiring top talent.

1 Move beyond work “perks”

While the overall unemployment rate remains above historical averages, many industries that require highly skilled employees continue to fight for talent. A sizeable portion of these employees have been working remotely for more than a year and have proven to be both productive and effective outside their traditional workplace. As such, they’ll expect many of the same “perks” that were created out of necessity during the pandemic - among them the ability to work remotely on a fairly regular basis, along with the ability to work flexible hours to better support integration between their work and personal lives. 

2 Manage with empathy

Leaders who are able to demonstrate that they genuinely care about their employees and are able to meet their evolving needs will be better positioned to retain talent in a competitive market. 

3 Modernise total reward packages

Part of the drive to retain talent will undoubtedly involve a second look at total reward packages. The pandemic brought mental health issues out of the shadows and drew attention to the need for organisations to more proactively address employee wellbeing.

Pre Covid-19, there was a shortage of talent for a lot of roles. Companies were likely either overpaying simply to get talent in the door and decreasing profitability, or weren’t able to fill roles for long periods of time, resulting in a decrease in productivity and Covid-19 has exasperated this problem.

Now is not the time to sit back and wait until the Covid-19 pandemic is over. You need to be proactive in your recruiting efforts in order to attract top candidates for post Covid-19 positions.