How organisations can resolve the talent paradox

With half of firms putting hiring on hold and a fifth making redundancies, it’s no surprise the pandemic has made recruiting challenging, says Philippa Lucarz

The competition for talent has always been high – both finding talent and retaining it. Events over the last 12 months have only served to intensify that challenge. In the job market, we have more candidates being cautious and less active because of the economic uncertainty and instability, while others are unexpectedly active because of redundancy or anticipated vulnerability. The supply of labour is disproportionately influenced by all these factors and is creating surges in supply for some vacancies and limited supply for others.

The pandemic has placed additional pressures upon all businesses, and those challenges vary by sector, organisation circumstance and resilience. For many, there are challenges around business viability, changing consumer demands, evolving skillset requirements, financial challenges and additional pressure on resources and what is an already stretched workforce. 

It is therefore no surprise that, in a recent CIPD survey, 57 per cent of organisations have put recruitment on hold and 20 per cent expect a reduction in their recruitment budget. What we are left with is a reduced supply of talent, reduced budgets and increased workloads, while trying to ensure our businesses remain sustainable, resilient and responsive.

So how do we stay ahead in the quest for talent?

Manage your brand identity

How attractive is your brand? What attention does it command in the labour market? How aligned are your values with those that are important to today’s candidates? How do you communicate your brand identity with applicants? 

What social media presence do you have? How does your reputation fair on review sites such as Glassdoor? Are you striking the right tone with your communication strategy? Are first impressions, last impressions and all those experiences in-between conveying your values and resonating positively?

Be authentically ethical and environmentally friendly

Today’s candidates want to work for organisations whose values align with their own. Environmental causes are now an important consideration. Candidates want to work for companies that behave ethically and transparently, both with their people and their cause. 

Candidates want to see how an organisation adds value to society and the wider community. Does this form part of your business strategy? Importantly, is this reflected in your culture and the experiences of those who interact with your organisation?

Develop the people skills of your managers

It is important that managers have high levels of interpersonal capability to enable them to build good trust-based relationships that resonate positively with staff.

When we view a situation negatively it reduces our cognitive thinking and makes us more defensive, reducing the value of the interaction and creating a negative memory which, in turn, influences the lens through how we view our future experiences. You can help create a more positive employee experience by encouraging managers to focus efforts on building good relationships with staff. Experiences throughout employment accumulate quickly and can create good levels of loyalty and connection or disconnect and mistrust.

Be flexible

Candidates want a good split between home and work; they often don’t want the rigidity of the traditional 9-5 – a dynamic that makes juggling home life less practical. Advertising roles as flexible and creating more autonomy in how and when work is performed will appeal to candidates, while broadening your pool of applicants.

Create a culture of resilience and support

People remember how they were treated when times were tough. How well people feel treated impacts upon their future loyalty, engagement and productivity. A health and wellbeing strategy, which is well embedded into the culture, is a necessity.

Focus on employee experience

Reflect on the experiences your policies, decisions and interactions create. How does your culture feed into experience and how can that be positively influenced? A great culture is high on every candidate and employee’s wish list.

Reassess your requirements

Finally, consider your wish list. Are your requirements rigid and inadvertently limiting the diversity of your interested audience? Consider the requirements of the job role and whether sector experience is required. Think about the advertising platforms being used and the choice of language selected. Are you appealing to underrepresented groups – a diverse workforce can be an enriched, innovative and thriving place to be.

Philippa Lucarz is HR director at Myerscough College and University Centre