As the year comes to a close, the recruitment industry is still dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic and post-pandemic.
In 2022, this resulted in a seismic shift in the dynamic between businesses, employees, and job seekers. With an ever-increasing demand to recruit the best people, the desire for organisations to streamline designations and operating structures – combined with an almost universal acceptance of remote working – has also opened geographical barriers that have historically hindered access to talent.
Furthermore, while the majority of industries are experiencing a comparative reduction in recruitment activity for the fourth quarter, this is projected to improve in March and April as employers continue to consider “right-sizing”.
As we approach 2023, having a clear and robust talent acquisition and retention strategy is critical.
Entire remote working roles are becoming more difficult to find, but the trend of allowing your team to work flexibly both in the office and at home will continue to become even more important if organisations want to keep existing talent and go beyond location to locate the best individuals for their team.
Because talent shortages will continue, the need to upskill employees will become a higher priority for many businesses dealing with staff and talent shortages. This method not only boosts workforce productivity, but also saves costs, increases employee satisfaction, reduces staff turnover, and, more often than not, creates a more collaborative and dynamic working atmosphere.
In many industries, the “Great Resignation” is not slowing down and, as cost-of-living issues continue alongside economic uncertainty, this affects recruitment. The retention of your best workers will become increasingly important. In summary, if you want to keep the finest, you must be willing to look after them and fight for them because the battle for talent is underway and it’s skilled people who have the upper hand.
The first impression you create for a prospective recruit has always been crucial but, with such fierce levels of competition for talent, it is more vital than ever to represent your company as one that values and supports its people. Take the time to assess the assistance you provide and, more importantly, how you plan to demonstrate it as part of a positive candidate experience, as this may make all the difference when a prospect has alternative options and a tough decision to make.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
It is widely accepted that a culturally diverse workforce fuels innovation and creativity, hence improving profitability. Currently, barely one in three businesses tracks candidate diversity, with gender and ethnic diversity indicators rarely employed. Similarly, companies frequently neglect socioeconomic diversity, but 2023 will see positive movement in this area, hopefully helping to erase any remaining unconscious bias in hiring.
As the first generation never to be without the internet takes on junior roles in the workforce, there will be an increasing expectation that everything is available online and at a fast pace. Highly collaborative, self-reliant and pragmatic, Generation Z values diversity, cooperation and connection, and wants to work from anywhere but also establish good relationships with their co-workers.
The perception of recruitment consultants is changing. The days of recruiters taking job orders and firing off CV after CV in the hope that someone resonates with you are long gone (I hope). That’s not how I have ever worked; instead, I find joy in putting the right people in the right places. It often means that, in addition to the job search, I wind up collaborating with organisations on a strategic level, serving as a sounding board and a source of recruitment knowledge, market insight, and salary guidance.
While we will continue to face uncertainty, concentrating on these trends will help you not only to develop a solid recruitment and retention strategy but also in hiring the right talent to capitalise on the possibilities that 2023 will bring, despite the talent shortage.
Permanent recruitment is rising at a record rate according to the latest KPMG and Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) survey.
As pandemic restrictions ease and more industries reopen, there is a mounting belief that the economy will bounce back quickly and that means optimistic businesses are shifting their mindset from consolidation and preservation to target growth.
The survey – compiled from the responses of around 400 UK recruitment agencies, of which I am one – showed that, in May and June, demand for new workers increased at the fastest rate in 23 years.
The upturn followed an increase in April, at which time we were unsure if employers were simply recruiting to catch up from the previous 12 months of low activity or we could see new momentum building in the market.
Two months on and the improvement shows no signs of slowing down with, rather pleasingly, the North of England leading the way nationally and boasting the steepest increase in permanent appointments in IT, Computing, and the Hospitality sector. The accountancy market is also one of the busiest I have seen in the last twenty years.
Here comes the ‘but’. While demand for good people is at an all-time high, their availability is at an all-time low. Mapped over the same timeframe, the number of workers looking for a new job dropped at the quickest rate for four years. Seeing the same pattern across a myriad of industries, the decline is linked to the furlough of staff, fewer EU candidates, and, of course, uncertainty following the pandemic.
Increased starting salaries
In a candidate-driven market, mixed with a refreshing air of private-sector business confidence, supply is outstripping demand and that means starting salaries are inevitably on the up.
In the North East, for now, they are just about holding up, but we have seen some outrageous salaries offered elsewhere in the country. Taking a London-based job but working from home (anywhere in the UK) can lead to astronomical increases for some, although I believe many national companies are working to address how they regionalise salaries when they have a remote workforce.
The challenge for recruitment
The challenge as a recruiter and an employer is to keep up with demand and always attract the right talent. Staff availability has declined immeasurably, and in part, because those willing to risk moving in the pandemic have already done so earlier in the year.
Positively in our region, I know there are a lot of people who are what I would call ‘window shopping’ right now. They are waiting in the wings and keeping an eye out for something special that grabs their attention.
There is no doubt that the flexibility to work from home and attend the office on their terms is playing a big part in decision making. As is having the flexibility to shape their hours so they can continue with the lifestyle they have built throughout COVID.
How can recruitment help?
By no means the hero, but the recruitment industry has continued to play a role in helping to keep vital services running smoothly throughout the pandemic. Now, it is playing a part in helping displaced workers find new jobs, and supporting companies as they adapt working patterns and prepare for the easing of restrictions.
This is why I couldn’t agree more with the deputy CEO of the REC, Kate Shoesmith’s, assessment of how businesses, recruiters and government need to work together to address the skills gap before it slows down our recovery.
The trends are worrying and we need to urgently address the skills gap together, supporting people to train, reskill and upskill so they can progress their careers and move into new roles.
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