With vacancies holding businesses back, how can they secure the best talent?

By Robert Half on 24th August 2021

Opinion from Chloe Clayton-Green, Division Manager (Finance & Accounting), Robert Half - Cambridge.

Chloe joined Robert Half as a Consultant five years ago, and is now a Division Manager in our Cambridge office. Below, she shares her valuable insight on the current recruitment market in the East Midlands and wider UK. 

The Office for National Statistics estimates that there are nearly one million job vacancies in the UK. This leaves businesses short of the talent they need to recover from the events of the last two years, as well as limiting their ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

In the East Midlands, where I’m based, this shortage of talent is driving a candidate-driven market, which is echoed nationwide – putting businesses under pressure. Many candidates will be interviewing for multiple companies and will often have two or three offers on the table, which means businesses need to be competitive to secure the best talent.

What does being competitive mean in this market?

It is no longer as simple as offering salaries and bonuses. Many of the candidates we’re speaking to are equally as interested in the perks and benefits on offer, as well as company values, and this can often make all the difference.

In our area, there is a strong mix between rural-based and city-based businesses, and as you might expect those in rural communities do not always command the same resources as those based in the cities and larger towns. This doesn’t have to mean they lose out on the best talent – they can make up for it with benefits and values.

Necessary changes during the pandemic have resulted in workplace evolution. We’ve proven that working from home can be just as productive as working full-time from an office, and many employees have enjoyed the flexibility. As a result, remote working is among the most requested benefits from the candidates we are working with.

Businesses who can offer remote or hybrid working are much more likely to secure the talent they like – there are too many opportunities for candidates can go elsewhere, to a company that can offer them the experience they want. Offering remote working can also make a significant difference to more rural businesses, where a commute out to the sticks may formerly have been off-putting – it helps to level the playing field.

Benefits go beyond remote working

Remote working is not the only benefit candidates are looking for – and we’re seeing that businesses are often able to make competitive offers without salary parity. The difference can be made up with general annual leave, good staff wellbeing offerings, and even smaller things like offering birthdays off or special perks for loyalty.

Businesses who can convince candidates that their company shares their values and would be a good place to work have an advantage over companies are prepared to pay for, but not necessarily look after, their talent.

While salary and benefits packages are important, they are not the only thing that can help companies secure the talent they need. Candidates are no longer willing to wait for responses, or to be kept on hold while a business interviews other candidates – and in a market where they can secure multiple offers, companies can not afford to drag their heels.

The early bird catches the worm, and companies who run a speedy hiring process and make decisions quickly are more likely to secure their favourite candidates. It makes candidates feel valued, and it also suggests the business is more dynamic than others, making it a more desirable place to work for younger candidates.

What else can businesses do?

In this market, planning is crucial. Businesses thinking about bringing in new staff, whether that is due to an expansion or to fill vacant roles, should act as soon as possible. As there is not the supply to meet demand in most sectors, the recruitment process can take longer than expected or the selected candidate could choose another business.

And don’t forget about notice periods. Contrary to some businesses’ belief, there is not a deep well of unemployed talent. Most companies will have to wait between one and six months for their candidate of choice, which can be the difference between the smooth progression of a business strategy and a delay that affects business ambitions.

Finally, with a busy year ahead for most businesses, leaders may find they do not have the time to find candidates or trawl CVs, which can slow down their hiring process. Working with a recruitment agency can help these businesses to find the talent they need without the hassle, helping to ensure a smooth experience for company and candidate.

If you are interested in partnering with Robert Half to help you weather the competitive market and find the talent you need, visit roberthalf.co.uk/employers.

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