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How can you combat skills shortages in the New Year?

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

Contrary to reports that growth and prospects are stalling, nearly two-thirds of organisations intend to continue with their recruitment plans and overall salaries have increased by 1.8%. Our recent survey of almost 17,500 professionals, showed that skills shortages are business leaders’ greatest fear and it is these shortages that we need to urgently to ensure that we can boost productivity in the UK workforce in 2018.

76% stated that they don’t have the talent needed to achieve business objectives over the coming year and 59% of employers stated that skills shortages were having a negative impact on their productivity. They were also concerned that skills shortages were negatively impacting on employee morale and plans for growth. One of the most startling findings was that only 6% of employers stated that they haven’t experienced any skills shortages in the past year.

It is these skills shortages, which have supported an average salary increase of 1.8% across the UK. Construction and property professionals have enjoyed the highest average salary increases, with an average of 2.7%, followed by IT, with an average increase of 2.3%, and engineering at 2.2%. Skills shortages are also fuelling some significant salary increases. For example, cyber security information security analysts and engineers have enjoyed some of the greatest rises at 10.5% and 8.4% respectively.

Skills shortages are also putting pressure on employees, with almost half of employers stating that skills shortages are negatively impacting employee morale and some reporting that there has been an increase in absenteeism due to workplace stress. Employers are concerned about the impact this could have on their ability to capitalise on their plans for growth. But, what can be done to counter this negativity and make sure our workforce is running at full steam?

Three areas of focus for 2018:

1. Make workforce planning a key strategic priority

Despite the positive sentiment that we see from organisations with regards to their current activity and plans, employers are concerned about the impact that skills shortages are having on productivity and growth. Workforce planning needs to be a core component of every business strategy and at the top of the agenda.

Understanding the range of workforce solutions available and considering the most appropriate options, factoring in elements beyond just immediate people needs, but also risk mitigation and cost management, will help employers to put in place the most effective strategies for both the short and long-term. This will enable employers to mitigate the effects of the skills shortages while continuing to meet their ambitious activity targets.

2. Invest in your employer brand to compete for talent

Ensuring that you have a strong employer brand has never been more essential given how prevalent the skills shortages are. Competition for candidates has intensified and employers need to make sure they stand out with a distinct offering that will appeal specifically to their target audience.

Having a strong employee value proposition is central to this. Salary levels need to be benchmarked accurately and positioned correctly, then progression opportunities and training investment need to be publicised. Finally, employees want to be able to get an insight into what it is truly like to work at the organisation, so they can assess whether they might be a strong fit with its culture. More employees are actively seeking this information, so employers need to ensure they have a transparent message that is easily accessible online.

3. Utilise contingent workers for more than just projects

Workforce planning needs to be high on the agenda and included as part of the core business objectives. Utilising contingent workers can alleviate workplace pressures and boost morale, and should be factored into hiring plans now before the retention of permanent staff becomes a more serious problem. Finally, focusing on strengthening the organisation’s employer brand will become that much more important over the coming year in order to attract talent.

Request your copy of Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 for further insight into salaries and trends that will impact on your organisation and workforce in 2018.

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

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.

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