Recruit, retain, protect: how to attract talent in a competitive market

It’s never been more important to hire the right people. In an uncertain and competitive landscape, skilled employees will help your organisation confidently navigate change, stay flexible and emerge from market shocks relatively unscathed.

Yet we often find that recruitment processes take too long and cost too much. Platforms like LinkedIn and aggregators like Indeed.com may appear to leave companies spoilt for choice, but quantity often comes at the price of quality.

At the same time, inefficient systems are failing to supply workers with the right skills and experience. There is now a growing disconnect between hiring practices and the fast-changing needs of employees. Without flexibility and focus, organisations will struggle to find the talent they need to thrive.

Typical time and costs spent on recruitment

Source: RSM and YouGov survey, June 2017

Pressure points

The UK labour market is competing on several fronts. Generational differences are changing the makeup of today’s workforce. Gen Z hires have different motivations to Millennials. And Millennials have different needs to their Baby Boomer predecessors. Too many organisations fail to adapt to these nuances, and instead roll out a cookie cutter approach to recruitment.

Demand for flexible working has also intensified as people increasingly look for a better work/life balance. Yet we constantly see that organisations are not keeping pace with these changing needs. RSM’s research, carried out by YouGov, shows only 9 per cent of employers actively encourage remote and/or home working.

Proportion of companies that actively promote home working

Source: RSM and YouGov survey, June 2017

Looking ahead, Brexit and the uncertain future of migrant EU labour will only intensify these challenges. Many companies are already struggling with skills deficits. Unless they act now, a shrinking talent pipeline could cause them to fall further behind.

Thinking outside the box

With demand for talent rising and skills gaps increasing, organisations need new approaches to secure skilled workers. We know that most have turned their attention to personal development and training programmes - 77 per cent of middle market firms say this is either critical or very important to retaining talent.

With shifting landscapes and constant innovations in the market place, it can be difficult to know what else you can do to attract skilled workers. Getting the right people into the right jobs is an art. But often the most effective tools are also the simplest.

By following simple principles that are aligned to your business and thinking outside the box, your HR teams will yield results. It is, after all, your people who are going to make the difference in your organisation.

A surprising job description. This is one of the most overlooked elements in any recruitment process. Too many organisations simply blow the dust off the last job spec, send it to their recruitment agents and wait for CVs to come. Grab this opportunity to broaden your scope of candidates and challenge your thinking on skills and experience.

Promote your brand early on. People need to buy in to your values before discussing their CV. This not only gets them engaged with the organisation and its future; it also tests the candidate’s appetite for the role. A realistic job preview is critical at this stage - being explicit from the outset about what the role is and what it isn’t deepens engagement with the right candidates.

Understand your candidates. As Gen Z enter the workforce, companies must soon juggle the distinct needs of three generations of workers. Thinking about, or even shouting about, what your business has to offer candidates of all generations will be critical to attracting the right people.

Speed up the process. Flexibility is something most employers will pride themselves on. Yet too many fail to find the time to get the candidates in front of the right people quickly. Recruitment tends to have long lead times. But aside from third party checks, all the steps in the process could be performed in less than a week.

Get your selection right. Many processes tend to focus on skills and experience rather than behaviours and personality. While it’s important to ensure your potential hire is qualified, how they gained their experience is just as important as the experience itself. Interviews should focus on examples and demonstrable experience. These are the best predictors of future performance.

Assimilate your new hires. The first 100 days are vital in determining how any new employee fits in to the organisation. Yet our research shows that only 2 per cent of organisations had a recruitment and onboarding process that lasted more the 90 days. A clear plan that aligns to the new hire’s objectives and expectations is the best way to start. Try to introduce the candidate to any remaining people that were not involved in the selection process.