Hays UK jobs and employment blog



How can you attract building services talent in 2019?

By Richard Gelder, Director of Hays Construction & Property

Despite the uncertainty posed by ongoing Brexit negotiations, according to our latest Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 report, 80% of building services employers are looking to recruit over the coming year. Over half (58%) are looking to hire permanent staff, while 39% are looking for temporary and contract staff.

However, skills shortages remain a real issue in building services, with three quarters of employers saying they have found it difficult to recruit permanent staff over the last year. As a result of this, nearly a quarter (23%) of building services companies say they don’t currently have the talent they need to meet their business objectives.

Nearly a third (31%) of companies have found it particularly hard to recruit experienced staff. Staff with operational and technical skills are most in demand for 65% of building services employers, and over a third (37%) want staff with managerial skills.

These skills shortages show few signs of abating, with employers across building services expecting a shortage of suitable applicants to be a challenge in the year ahead (64%), while nearly half (45%) think that competition from other employers will be a problem. Whilst skills shortages in building services is not a new issue, some employers may be concerned that the uncertainty around Brexit could be exacerbating this issue – potentially contributing to a lack of European talent coming to the UK, as well as causing a lack of movement by employees looking to avoid the ‘last in, first out’ effect.

Salaries on the rise

As a result of high demand for building services professionals coupled with skills shortages, building services salaries rose by an average of 2.8% last year. However, over the last year, well over half (58%) of all building services professionals have changed job, with 22% considering it – demonstrating that there is a considerable talent pool available to employers should they be able to attract the best professionals. In addition, of those employees who did move in the last year, most (28%) did so because their salary was too low. This indicated that employers need to offer more than just a competitive salary to attract and retain employees.

In an industry where competition is tough, how can you attract the very best staff?

  • Job security: with so many short-term contracts in the industry, one of the best ways to attract and retain staff is through job security. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers say it helps them to attract staff, while 13% of employees say concerns about job security is the reason they want to leave their current role.
  • Benefits: nearly half (48%) of building services professionals could be tempted to move for a better salary and benefits package. The benefit which is most attractive to 54% of candidates is over 28 days’ paid annual leave, followed by training support and either a company car or a car allowance.
  • Work-life balance: just over half (51%) of all building services professionals say their work-life balance is either good or very good, so they are unlikely to sacrifice that to work for a firm which doesn’t give them the same or better work-life balance. Flexible working is still unusual in the industry, with 33% of employers offering no flexible working at all. By offering some form of agile working, you could attract talent from a wider pool.

To discover more insights about the building services market, and the prospects for the next year for the construction and property industry as a whole, request your copy of the Hays salary guide at

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.


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