Coping with talent scarcity: what UK employers need to know
Joel Forrester

3 minutes

Coping with talent scarcity: what UK employers need to know

With limited resources available, employers must start to look beyond their usual talent pools to source the people they need. In fact, part of the talent challenge facing many UK employers right now is that the competition for top skills extends beyond their own sectors. Demand for digital skills and tech talent, for example, extends to almost every industry – whether that’s aerospace, defence, logistics or retail.

Broadening horizons isn’t just limited to sectors, though. Geography and skill sets should also be re-evaluated and reshaped. With remote working now the norm for so many, widening the geographical search for talent could yield great results where remote or hybrid working is an option.

And given that there is such a dearth of critical skills, it is now more important than ever to be more flexible around what is an absolute must, and what can perhaps be developed.

Here are just a few ways employers can take a more flexible approach to hiring right now.

Broadening role requirements

Where individuals meet only some of the requirements of a role, considering how they can be developed to fill the rest of the needs rather than instantly removing them from the equation will be beneficial.

The benefits of taking this approach could be increased hiring options as well as greater retention rates, as individuals feel greater loyalty to your firm for supporting their career progression. The same can be said for internal mobility. Where there are skills that are in short supply, reviewing where these attributes can be developed within the business will aid longer-term resilience to talent scarcity.

While this may create resourcing needs elsewhere in the organisation, it will help funnel emerging talent into the company and retain them on a longer-term basis.

Opening up to previously underutilised talent

Actively seeking out individuals from previously overlooked segments of the workforce will increase the volume of jobseekers available to you, as well as the breadth, depth, and quality of your talent pools.

There is a wealth of evidence to support the fact that companies with diverse workforces outperform the competition. Make no mistake, even in times when talent is plentiful, diverse, equal and inclusive recruitment practices have been shown to have a positive and measurable impact on a business’s bottom line.

However, in order to tap into historically underutilised talent pools, engage with a wide range of jobseekers, and take advantage of the benefits that diverse workforces bring, hiring managers must identify why they are not reaching these people already.

Unnecessary role requirements, your ability to upskill and retrain applicants, accessibility, use of language and imagery, and job ad placement all need to be reviewed and reconsidered. Get it right, and your reward will be access to a whole new world of quality candidates.

Engaging the entire workforce, including the external

In addition to permanent employees, organisations must also direct resources towards engaging with temps, contractors, statement of work services providers, and freelancers - particularly in today’s talent-scarce market. At a time when demand continues to flex - and sought-after skills may be hard to secure on a permanent basis - exploring the potential of these groups is crucial. In many businesses, contingent workers play a crucial role in filling skills gaps, and are rehired and redeployed time and again for future assignments.

Keeping this pool of talented contingent workers loyal to your employer brand ensures these individuals stick around for as long as they are required - and perform to the best of their ability while they are in situ. Through efficient onboarding, team inclusion and effective post-project communication, businesses can ensure their contingent workers are engaged, productive and open to returning at short notice in the future.

Of course, when utilising non-permanent resources, employers must ensure that off-payroll determinations are correct and may need to rethink their approaches to IR35. Those businesses that have been reticent to consider independent professionals in the past because of potential legislative challenges should seek expert guidance to ensure they can compliantly tap into this talent pool.

The power of partnerships: getting specialist staffing help

The situation that employers face today is unprecedented: talent shortages exist on a grand scale, across almost all sectors. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet solution to these challenges; no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

However, an experienced MSP or RPO provider is perfectly placed to support businesses to explore and engage with the whole array of available talent, as they seek skills in talent-short markets and reach beyond their conventional, ‘go to’ candidate personas.

The ongoing fear of getting an individual’s off-payroll classification wrong, for example, is still preventing some employers from engaging legitimate contractors - and this is a fear that can be easily overcome with the help of an expert staffing partner that has experience and specialists in contingent workforce compliance.

The bottom line is that talent scarcity issues are not going away anytime soon, so it’s important that employers take every possible step to broaden their skills attraction strategies if they are to navigate the next few months. Partnering with an expert who can help you engage with talent effectively and take advantage of the entire spectrum of talent at your disposal, is the smart way through the current challenge.

Download our UK talent scarcity report for a deeper dive into the skills challenges the UK is facing right now. And contact us to see how we can help your organisation face its resourcing challenges head on.