Opinion

How can businesses fight the war for top talent in 2020?

The UK jobs market for specialist positions remained extremely competitive and fast-moving throughout 2019. Research from the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that in the first quarter of the year, over half of UK businesses (53%) had intended to recruit but nearly three-quarters (73%) then struggled to find the right people. It shared similar findings in quarter three, with three-quarters of UK businesses still reporting difficulties finding the talent and skills they needed.

At the moment, this candidate-driven market looks set to continue into 2020. So what are the strongest weapons employers can use to boost their armoury and win the war for talent?

A competitive offering

One of the immediate things people may think of is salary. If you pay the most, will you come out as the winners? Our findings and day-to-day experience show this isn’t necessarily the case. Employers do need to be prepared to offer a fair and competitive salary, and they can use our Compare my Salary tool to benchmark what they are offering against similar roles in the eastern region. However, a happy and fulfilling place to work relies on much more than just how much people are paid. This is good news for smaller employers, charities and not-for-profit organisations in particular. There are still many ways in which they can compete against the finances of larger businesses. For example, benefit packages show an investment in people and can demonstrate the company’s values and culture. From a financial perspective, they can save employees significant amounts of money and provide financial security and reassurance in times of distress, such as if they were to become too ill to work. Wellbeing benefits have the combined advantage of helping people to stay fit and healthy while also offering real support if ever needed, like fast access to medical services or counselling. Plus lifestyle benefits including agile working, opportunities to reduce commuting times or additional annual leave, can all help people to balance their work and home life. All of these can be significant points of difference when high-calibre employees are choosing between two possible job offers. 

Quick and positive recruitment experiences

Good people are being snapped up extremely quickly, so it tends to be businesses which can act fast that come out on top. Does this mean they are putting themselves at risk of bad hiring decisions by rushing? When advising our clients on the need for speed we still reinforce the fact that there should be a robust process in place. What we are emphasising is the necessity to prioritise interviews and decision making, and to remove any unnecessary complications. Otherwise, there is a real risk that a preferred candidate will already have accepted another job. Plus, more so than ever in a candidate short market, recruitment becomes a two-way process. The best people will have the confidence to walk away from an organisation if they are not impressed. Employers may not have control over how many other interviews a good candidate is going for, but they do have the chance to check that they are delivering the best possible experience at every stage and are not missing any opportunities to highlight why people should want to work for their organisation.

Employer brand and strong recruitment marketing

We see every day how businesses that haven’t genuinely invested in their employer brand find it harder to attract the best people. This is reinforced by a recent LinkedIn survey which revealed that 75% of applicants now consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. Through our Best Employers Initiative and sponsorship of Best Employer awards, it has been fantastic to see so many organisations in our region genuinely investing in creating a strong employer brand. It is clear that business leaders are recognising the importance of this when it comes to competing for, and retaining, high-calibre employees. Those who are passionate about developing their organisation’s workplace environment, engagement levels and overall employer brand can register to join us at the launch event of Best Employers Eastern Region 2020. This will once again be a great opportunity to come together with like-minded business leaders and to share expert advice and best practice examples. Once businesses have a strong employer brand in place, they can go on to adopt a marketing approach to recruitment. Every touchpoint a prospective employee may engage with is a chance to actively promote the positives of working for your company and to share more about your culture and employee value proposition.

An open mind

With candidates in high demand, it can sometimes be almost impossible to find someone who ticks every single box. Does that mean employers should put recruitment on hold and keep waiting for the ‘perfect’ candidate? We are working with clients to review what really is essential criteria and what is just desirable. After all, what makes a really good, talented employee? In most cases, it is about the right attitude. If you can find someone who is the right fit for your organisation, who shares your values, is engaged with your organisation’s purpose and who will thrive in your workplace culture, you are likely to have found a high-calibre recruit. Additional skills and experience can be learnt on the job, roles can be adapted and different working patterns can be offered to suit someone’s situation. Employers who are open-minded to the idea of making a role work for the right person or investing in training and developing people to meet all the criteria have the opportunity to create their own top talent. In return, they are more likely to be rewarded with engaged, loyal employees who want to stay and progress with the business. Considering that retaining high calibre employees is currently just as much of a challenge as recruiting them, the long-term benefits should not be underestimated.  

Seek expert support

When businesses are trying to hire specialist positions in a tough recruitment market, our consultants can really add value and make a difference. Our specialist sector knowledge is the primary reason why companies choose to work with us. As expert consultants in their different disciplines, our team invests time in developing and maintaining a strong network of contacts. This dedicated focus connects us to the best people and enables us to source high-quality and ‘hard to find’ candidates.

If you would like support in finding the very best people and reviewing your recruitment processes and packages in 2020, contact us for a chat.

Written by

David Culley

David joined the recruitment industry in 1999 following graduation with an Honours degree in Occupational Psychology. He joined Pure in 2003. He has oversight of the Cambridge operation as well as delivering a number of value-added seminars and steering groups within the Charity and Not For Profit sectors. David also leads Executive recruitment in these sectors. David also chairs a Cambridgeshire charity.