Opinion

HR industry must keep pace with the rate of the economic recovery

4 min read

04 June 2014

After years of austerity, the UK job market is finally beginning to step out from the shadow of the recession. Yet, while many businesses are planning to implement their most ambitious growth plans in close to a decade, HRs are having to work harder than ever to bring the right talent into the business to drive this growth.

Teams are often smaller, budgets are still often tight, and as far as jobs are concerned, candidates are back in the driving seat and calling the shots.

The reality is, businesses can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to talent attraction. They have been used to having the pick of the crop. Now however, more people than ever are in work and employment prospects are looking up. As a result, HR professionals must find new and smarter ways to pull the right talent into their business.

A major part of this is about accommodating people’s preferences. We’ve experienced a huge demise in the clock-on, clock-off culture that once dominated workplaces across Britain. Instead, people want to feel passionate about what they do and feel that the role they perform is meaningful. As a result, they are happier to work irregular hours and even accept lower salaries in return for jobs that they find fulfilling. The flexibility and choice that temporary or part time work can offer are often key to enabling this.

Contingent workforces always increase after a recession, but they are currently at unprecedented levels in the UK, with approximately 25 per cent of the average workforce within large companies made up of contingent workers. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for business. Control, cost, visibility, consistency of process and the need to navigate resourcing programmes across multiple countries all complicate matters. Meanwhile, though, businesses are slowly but surely waking up to the fact that the skilled and growing contingent workforce is an opportunity to realise their business strategies, as opposed to a means to solely fire-fight a short-term resource challenge. Failure to embrace the increasingly popular contingent work style is simply not an option.

Alongside this necessary restructuring, it’s no surprise that recruitment processes are also being heavily affected by social media. The simplicity of applying in one click means that 90 per cent of applicants don’t even read the job description, and 85 per cent don’t have the right skills. Obviously this can make life difficult for the HR department, but it does also mean that the pool of available talent is significantly widened. To increase the likelihood of attracting the right talent via social media, businesses need to understand where their ideal candidates are engaging online – Twitter might be the perfect place to find candidates for a media role, but it’s not necessarily the place to find engineers, for example. Researching and knowing your audience is key here.

There’s no doubt that the war for talent is still going on, although these days it is more reminiscent of a tug of war, with businesses and candidates pushing and pulling together to find a situation that suits them both. 

The key thing for businesses to remember when hiring is that their recruitment strategies need to be aligned with those of the business. By investing in the right people at the right level, your staff can help secure your business’ long-term success.

Melanie Forbes is Managing Director UK & EMEA of Guidant Group.

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