Whilst the latest ONS unemployment figures once again confirm strong employment growth up and down the country, the challenge still remains competing for the right staff with the right skills to get the job done.
Masking a bigger issue – a skills gap that threatens UK businesses and the wider economy, at an estimated cost of around £63 billion a year – the struggle to find talent is largely a result of the latest revolution, one led by the emergence and increasing dominance of digital technologies.
And like all revolutions, our new working environments are putting new skillsets in demand.
In order to keep abreast of changing expectations, organisations must ensure that they have the pulling power to attract the best.
From flexible working schemes for a better work-life balance and increased holiday allowance to robust career development programmes and creative working environments, employers need to communicate the benefits associated with their brand.
For organisations, keeping up with this demand for skills – and indeed the wider disruption that digital is causing industries – is no simple task.
That is because, historically, pay has been a key factor for influencing new recruits and retaining current staff within the organisation. However, not all businesses are in a financial position to offer substantial monetary awards. The good news is that, for the most part, employees’ expectations are beginning to shift. For today’s workforce, money is not necessarily the most effective way of engaging staff with their role, and it needn’t be the most effective way to reward them, either.
People are increasingly looking for a workplace that values their career progression – demonstrated by robust development programmes – and offers an inspiring and creative atmosphere that enables them to produce their very best work.
What’s more, a trend we’ve seen increase steadily over the years, flexible working is now an expectation of most workers.
By embracing the right technological tools, organisations can give their people the unique opportunity to get their work done from anywhere and at any time. For instance, cloud-based productivity suites allow employees to work on the move using familiar apps while offering secure and reliable access to corporate networks for mission-critical information.
A business that can support these aspirations and expectations is likely to be more competitive when competing for talent.
Brand the business right
To even get potential candidates to the stage in which their considering or negotiating a role, organisations need to have effectively communicated the perks of working there to prospective employees. The way to do this? By building a compelling employer brand.
In years gone by, the majority of organisations have approached their employer brand as if it were just comprised of a logo, a list of values, or a section of their website. But, considering new talent can be easily swayed by all kinds of sources, such as Glassdoor reviews for instance, in the day-to-day reality of a job seeker, an employer brand has the potential to be so much more.
Every connection between a prospect and the organisation is an opportunity to build this brand, yet too many businesses squander these moments.
Employer branding involves taking that step further to meet prospective employees on their own terms. For example, this could be a creative recruitment method which takes advantage of social and mobile media channels to attract initial interest, to assess candidates, and to keep them updated on their progress.
Techniques such as gamifying assessments can help a business to communicate its progressive nature as an employer, as can ensuring a career website is easy to navigate and apply through even on a mobile phone.
Brave the new working world
The pace of change organisations are experiencing right now is remarkable – traditional industries are being disrupted, business models are evolving, and skilled talent can be difficult to find and keep hold of.
Organisations have an opportunity to act now to meet evolving expectations. This will be key to attracting and retaining the best and most skilled workers, and ultimately business growth.