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As employers navigate their way out of the pandemic, there will be ongoing challenges along the way. The new strain and advice to revert to remote working where possible will be a stark reminder to many employers that Covid-19 requires them to remain adaptable.

Here we outline how you can transform the prevalent recruitment and retention challenges in the labour market into an opportunity to attract the best talent.

two man shaking hands in office

A busy recruitment market ahead in 2022

Our UK Reward Management Survey highlighted how organisations are predicting better revenues for 2022, a return to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019; 57 per cent anticipate better revenues in 2022, in stark contrast to 15 per cent in spring 2020. 50 per cent of employees are anticipated to return to the office by August 2022. With these signs of a return to normal projected, already 60 per cent of respondents to our survey had experienced difficulty retaining people, with 60 per cent also anticipating difficulties in retaining people in the next six months. Similarly, 73 per cent had difficulty recruiting people and 75 per cent expect difficulties in recruiting people going forward.

57 per cent have had to offer new recruits salaries that conflict with those paid to existing employees, with 47 per cent offering up to 20 per cent more. With reports that recruiters themselves are struggling to recruit, employers are having to pay recruitment premiums to attract vital talent. 50 per cent expect turnover to increase for all employees across the UK.

Prepare for a buoyant labour market

Since the summer, the vaccination programme has underpinned employers defining how they will remain agile whilst accommodating a return to the workplace. However, only 57 per cent have implemented a concrete ‘new way of working’ policy. 15 per cent have adopted a temporary policy as they define what works best for them and their people. This hesitancy to define the future vision of the business may be a source of these recruitment and retention difficulties, as people can leave for those employers who can commit to flexibility and offer a clearer path post-pandemic. Yet the impact on the bottom line of recruitment and retention details is huge. The cost of replacing employees is estimated to cost between six to nine months of their salary.

“Managers typically have their own job, and when they have an open position, technically may have two jobs.”

Theresa Adams, senior knowledge adviser at the Society for Human Management Resource

There is a significant impact on the team, as the drawn-out recruitment process, which often involves multiple interviews for jobseekers, reportedly takes an average of 23.7 days. Hiring practices can involve time-consuming steps such as screening CVs, interviewing candidates and scheduling follow-up interviews. In the meantime, these built-in delays mean that managers moving the process along are often straddling roles, compounding delays. This impacts the employee experience of the whole team.

Industry hot spots

Labour shortages are being well documented, with particular sectors having acute problems. Sectors such as construction have indicated that they are experiencing specific recruitment and retention challenges as the market hots up. Salary pressures, possibly fuelled by media reporting, are driving things to evolve quickly. Organisations are introducing specific initiatives to meet the current challenges including introducing greater flexibility within the industry and encouraging new talent to enter the industry by focusing on the relevant skills involved for roles.

For travel, one of the worst sectors hit by the pandemic, there has been a 49 per cent rise month on month in the number of travel job roles being advertised, with available industry vacancies reaching the levels available pre-pandemic. The number of roles are outstripping demand from those seeking work in the industry, with the shortfall in available talent being attributed to “great talent” exiting the travel sector.

Strategies to overcome recruitment and retention challenges


Social media as a recruitment tool

The top strategy cited by 64 per cent of respondents is the use of technology, mainly LinkedIn recruitment. Social media as a recruitment tool is a huge opportunity for companies to target the relevant individuals with the required skillset, helping to more accurately screen potential applicants. Technology was also identified by 46 per cent of respondents as a tool to closely monitor labour turnover data. Employers can quickly identify areas of the business affected by high levels of labour turnover, developing targeted support for individual teams as opposed to more generic policies across the firm that have less of an impact.


Widen recruitment networks

Whilst 45 per cent also opted for the greater use of external agencies – the more traditional route of asking a professional recruiter to find the right talent – 45 per cent are encouraging or incentivising employee referrals. This follows the logic that employees can use their own network to solve recruitment issues and be rewarded for finding the right talent. Only 15 per cent said that they paid a significant recruitment premium to attract individuals, but some did note a welcome bonus for new joiners.


Empower individuals to balance their priorities to drive your productivity

The pandemic transformed working overnight. Every business learnt that they could afford to be a lot more flexible when it came to having their employees physically in the office or structuring roles in different ways to support and attract a more diverse workforce. As people are the greatest assets of businesses, empowering them to shape work and maintain productivity in a way that lets them balance their priorities in life is a competitive advantage for many companies. It will be critical in the recovery and ability of companies to remain agile in the wake of the pandemic. This starts with defining your approach to working post-pandemic. Communicating this approach and being clear about what employees can expect will directly impact the diversity of the candidates who apply and who chooses to stay.


Broaden the talent pools to consider

To date, the expectation for employees to be in the office is around one to two days, which is predicted to increase to two to three days by August 2022. This flexibility and gear change to favour virtual working has meant that those previously excluded from work can access this from wherever they are based. Remote working creates numerous new opportunities to find the right talent; it is easier to recruit from a wider geographical base or meet the needs of those who are disabled, carers or parents in achieving greater work-life balance.


Ensure line managers are fluent in hybrid working

The main criticisms of agile working stem from the potential cultural impact. Questions around whether more junior employees will sufficiently be able to benefit from osmosis by learning from experienced colleagues or whether productivity will in fact be maintained across the organisation all centre mainly around the line manager as coordinator of the employee experience. Being clear on the degree to which flexible working is adopted guides and supports the approach of line managers in how best to manage their teams and provide the best possible employee experience for them. This is linked to helping their team progress, mapping out personal development programmes and managing career progression. Individuals need to see the opportunities that are available to invest in and stay at an organisation.


Improve the employee experience

Employers have taken the opportunity to develop existing talent and weather the storm, with 41 per cent of employers making greater use of internal recruitment. Employers highlighted how individuals who already work for the business can seamlessly pivot between roles and greater learning and development programmes are required to ensure individuals clearly see their future at the organisation. Equally, analysing employee exit interviews is essential. Identifying the drivers behind employees leaving can inform the current approach to reward and benefits and help to address any wider cultural issues that could sustain employee turnover. This directly links to ensuring that the employer offers a strong employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP that speaks to individuals and aligns with individuals’ sense of purpose can help to attract and retain.


Be creative about how you can recruit

Social enterprises have been highlighted as giving access to a credible pipeline of talent to employers. In the context of travel and thinking outside the box when it comes to your approach as an employer, Women in Travel works with a range of employers, from hotel companies to tour operators, connecting women they have trained to those who require their skills to support their own business. This directly boosts a company’s values and Employer Brand, linking them to vital causes by providing them with a recruitment pipeline from those who are under-represented in society. Companies should reflect the societies they serve and diversity and inclusion already is a board-level priority for many.


Strengthening reward strategy

Respondents to our survey noted that they are reviewing their approach to reward and benefits holistically. The role of pay scales and bands is to organise pay effectively, identifying the right pay range for each role, ensuring they are competitive with the external market and providing an important objective framework to achieve fair pay throughout the organisation. A clear and transparent pay system can satisfy individuals that they are being competitively paid in the market. Total reward statements were also cited as an important tool in times of constrained pay to show individuals the investment that the organisation was making in each employee that goes beyond just pay.

Get in touch

As you plan your own approach for 2022, please get in touch with us if you have any questions at all about how to drive the most value from your reward strategy. We are on hand to help you manage your pay and reward practices and can help you to cultivate a strategy that drives down employee turnover. We will help you to maximise the benefits to both you as an employer and your people.

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