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Talent scarcity: here’s what a long-term candidate attraction strategy looks like

The acute talent shortages that businesses across the world are facing have been well documented in recent months. A shortfall of HGV drivers in the UK, for example - which is currently creating noticeable gaps on supermarket shelves - has been covered extensively by the UK media. For those on the frontline of recruitment and procurement, however, candidates required to fill a whole myriad of other permanent and contract roles are proving equally elusive, with hospitality professionals, logistics experts and digital skills all difficult to source.

This talent-scarce market is the result of a number of external forces: a boom in demand due to lockdown easing; in the UK, an exodus of European workers post-Brexit; and the fact that professionals retrained or switched sectors when employment opportunities were thin on the ground at the height of Covid-19 disruption.

As a result, many employers are finding their talent pools dry - especially in the US where Amazon has been on an unprecedented recruitment drive, offering wages and signing bonuses that other firms simply can’t match (at time of writing, Amazon’s jobs page has more than 57,000 vacancies listed worldwide).

Against this backdrop, how can employers stand out from the crowd when everybody is trying to attract the same scarce talent?

Talent shortages: no quick fix

It seems that some businesses believe offering ‘golden hellos’ is a quick way to overcome talent shortages. It has been widely reported that Asda and Tesco are currently offering a £1,000 signing-on fee for HGV drivers amid a shortage in qualified workers. Arla, meanwhile, is offering a £2,000 bonus. And it seems this practice is becoming increasingly widespread: in August 2021, a survey by job search engine Adzuna found that almost 5,000 vacancies across the UK were offering signing-on bonuses of up to £10,000 for in-demand roles such as care workers, chefs and nursery staff.

But attraction bonuses are not the solution to plugging skills gaps.

Hiring managers are clearly turning to these measures out of pure desperation. However, for businesses seeking talent, this is not a sustainable resolution for the long term. Aside from the additional costs incurred at the point of hire, stunts like this are unlikely to attract talent that is the right fit for your business. At the most basic level, individuals attracted by a one-off cash incentive will likely leave for another employer offering a similar perk as soon as they are contractually able to. More importantly, candidates sourced in this way are unlikely to have considered if the company they are joining meets their needs as an employee, shares their values, or if it is a place where they can grow and thrive professionally.

In order to secure scarce skills, decision makers would be wise to direct time and resources into building a robust long-term talent attraction strategy instead.

Building a strong EVP: the power of employer brand

Rather than simply throwing money at the problem, businesses must position themselves as an employer of choice – and building and communicating a strong employer value proposition (EVP) is key.

A strong employer brand should connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and policies, and be linked to the company’s corporate brand. A key part of an organisation’s culture and values are the ethical standards that the employer upholds through the practice of its employees. Employer brand is, therefore, influenced by the ethical perspective that prospective and current employees take, as well as through business actions.

Even during times when talent is plentiful, the benefits of investing in your EVP are hard to ignore. According to research by Gartner, organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can reduce the compensation premium by 50%, and reach 50% deeper into the labour market when candidates view their EVP as attractive. What’s more, 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation – even for a pay increase.

With this in mind, a focus on EVP, harnessed alongside complementary recruitment strategies – such as offering a first-class candidate experience and tapping into underutilised talent pools – is vital to persuading people to join you over the competition.

Actioning your long-term talent attraction plan

When it comes to defining and communicating a strong and authentic EVP, understanding the experiences of existing employees is crucial. For HR professionals and hiring managers taking the first steps on their EVP journey, gauging sentiment across the organisation will paint a realistic picture of:

  • where you are now
  • where there is room for improvement, and
  • where there are great stories to be shared.

Only then can strategists begin to build a solid employer brand, and reap the associated benefits. Drafting a statement which encapsulates your EVP will provide a consistent platform for all employer brand communications, but this alone is not enough. Real value comes from sharing authentic stories of your people, which are accessible to audiences both inside of the recruitment process and beyond. Celebrate your corporate culture across every potential touchpoint by giving a voice to those within your team.

Remuneration will always be part of what draws people to your organisation, but there are other forces at play - especially in the current climate. Factors that jobseekers increasingly value include:

  • purpose
  • autonomy
  • progression, and
  • innovation.

So, share case studies of individuals who are relishing these aspects of working with you on your website, across your social channels and on third-party platforms. In a post-pandemic world, when people have had time and space to reflect on what is important to them, incentives such as wellness programmes and the option to work flexibly are becoming increasingly important for many individuals - so this may be an area to focus attention to begin with.

At a time when, according to Broadbean Technology, the number of people applying for jobs has fallen for three consecutive months, it is clear that hiring managers must up their game when it comes to talent strategy if they are to have any hope of plugging skills gaps for the long-term.

As recruiting becomes increasingly challenging amid ongoing talent shortages, it may be tempting to seek quick-fix solutions. However, here at Guidant, we like to do things in a better way and know that promoting a genuine and compelling EVP is the only way to differentiate your employer brand in today’s tough, candidate-scarce market.

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