There is no doubt that these are strange times when it comes to recruitment. With the candidate shortage likely to continue into 2023, are we storing up big problems for when the bubble finally bursts?
The candidate shortage isn’t going away soon.
As we all know, everything comes to an end, but the shortage of candidates, particularly those in highly skilled areas, is not going to vanish overnight. The problem is basically a very simple one. There are just not enough available people to fill the current vacancies in the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics, some areas of the UK are seeing unemployment as low as 2.4% and the estimated number of job vacancies Sept – November was just under 1.8 million. It doesn’t take a statistics genius to work out that there is a big gap there. While some industries are struggling more than others (warehousing and logistics, for example, is being hit really hard), the problem is across all sectors.
The shortage is a result of, as many people have already pointed out, a perfect storm of conditions. To add to the physical shortage of candidates caused by high employment levels, leaving the EU made the UK a much less desirable proposition for overseas workers. There is a skills gap in many industries, the post covid workplace is very different, and to add to all this, the Pandemic raised a lot of questions in the mind of employees about job satisfaction and helped prompt the big resignation.
That is a lot of disparate factors contributing to an already complex situation.
What can employers do about the candidate shortage issues?
I was recently in a restaurant, and I noticed the owner turning people away despite having empty tables. When I asked if he was fully booked, he replied that he simply had nobody to wait on the tables and he couldn’t afford to increase his wages to attract anyone.
Increasing wages may seem like the obvious response to staff shortages, but, of course, there is a real danger in going down this route too far and too fast. Almost every marketplace is tough right now, so increasing costs with a potential recession ramping up seems highly counterintuitive. However, employers are also very aware that salary is a gateway moment in the employment process. If the salary is too low, then the candidate simply will not apply. It is a catch-22 when salaries are rising. This whole situation is then made more complex by recent increases in the cost of living. Candidates are now not only looking to increase salary, but they are also looking to do so and compensate for potential further cost of living increases.
Throwing too much at a salary to attract an employee, though, can be very damaging in the long run. Not just because of budgeting issues but also because it is often only a patch and not a solution. If the new employee is simply driven by salary, not affinity to the employer, or loyalty, you could find them moving on in the short term.
On a similar track, there is also a danger in stretching the requirement for a role too far to get someone in a position. There is little more toxic in a workplace than someone who is not performing in a role and then needs to be replaced. A bad hire of that sort can cost thousands.
So, what are candidates and clients to do about the current situation?
- Do a salary review and make sure your offer is right
- Look to your employer brand to entice new candidates
- Think about benefits and conditions as potential motivation
- Loosen your ‘must’ have requirements if you can. This will widen your potential pool of candidates but make sure that training and upskilling are possible to avoid a bad hire.
- Be realistic about your career options. Yes, of course, you should make the most of the current situation and, if you feel it’s time, come and talk to us about a new role. However, taking a job you are not really cut out for is never going to work.
- Remember salary balances in the long run. A great starting salary isn’t everything because careers are a long game.
- Look to the benefits and advancement potential more than the instant salary increase.
In the final analysis, this is a unique situation occurring at a national level. That usually means it will start to shift back to a more middle, stable ground soon. If the recession deepens, things could change dramatically. Having a professional, straight-talking recruitment partner by your side will make a huge difference now and in the coming changes.
Contact us, and let’s talk about what will work best for you, whichever side of the desk you are on.