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Recruiting issues throughout the Christmas period

  • 4 Min Read

Encore Operations Director, Pete Taylor, discusses the issue of the having to hire more staff around this time of year and what agencies can do to tackle it.

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The increase in staffing levels is a common theme around this time of year. However, with the landscape for recruitment changing, finding workers to fill these positions is now becoming increasingly difficult.

Companies need extra support to meet the heightened demand for products and services around this time. Warehouses and distribution centres especially are in need of more staff for a plethora of roles, including packing products, logistic operators, extra drivers, retailers, as well as extra staff for late night openings.

Attracting talent

To attract labour, recruitment companies will need to work harder to achieve their goals of acquiring a much larger workforce. By using an external targeted approach to reach new and existing workers it should help agencies to make up the numbers over Christmas this could benefit them in the long run. However below are some of the overlaying issues with recruiting a high workforce around the Christmas period.

Last year, in the 10-week period in the run-up to Christmas, if we’d had an extra 800 workers on our books, we could have employed them all. Fast-track to this year, and we have the same if not more need from clients (all be it even six weeks earlier than last year’s peak). Evidence of a reducing workforce is becoming ever more apparent.

Due to the Brexit referendum still being not being confirmed in terms of future decisions,  there is a lack of clarity on immigration laws and concerns about the free flow of labour in and out of the UK. Add this to the recovering European economies including the Balkan countries, Hungary and Poland, and we are starting to see a significant reduction in available labour in the UK.

Europe retaining talent

For the last four years, we’ve seen an increase in European countries retaining workers, meaning job seekers no longer need to look further afield to find work. Instead, they can stay within their home country, closer to their families. EU nationals are opting for work closer to home in Denmark, Germany and Holland where average pay rates for unskilled and semi-skilled workers are €9.56ph. There is an increased requirement for labour, especially for shift work, yet a rapidly diminishing workforce.

Last year, £1.4bn was spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday, an increase of 11.7% from the year before – companies such as Amazon and DHL are busier than ever before, creating more of a demand for warehouse staff and drivers.

Pay rates are also an issue to address, 15 years ago, people were pleading for work, as now workers have caught on to the fact that they are in demand and therefore have higher expectations, this has resulted in a high demand for shift-based work, higher pay rates, and all the added benefits. With job perks now including everything from staff discounts to table tennis and pool tables, there is a new culture of working, making it a competitive market for businesses looking to employ temporary workers over busy seasonal periods.

Planning ahead and a strong marketing campaign is a key to overcoming this issue. Recruitment agencies need to work closely with their clients, educating them on the current situation and encouraging them to look ahead. For clients, by reviewing required staffing levels and informing agencies ahead of time, it will certainly help to meet the demand. Without enough notice there will be a lack of suitable staff to fill the gaps.

Ultimately though, with clients wanting to pay less, and staffing supplies at an all-time low, it’s a tricky combination to handle for most recruitment agencies. The post Brexit result will bring extra clarity around the issue of low staffing levels in the UK, and give us a base to drive forward from, so we can attempt to combat this issue earlier next year, re-building a bank of suitable staff to use throughout busy periods in 2019.

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