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Following on from last week’s blog, where we discussed whether an organization can champion both equality and inclusion, this week we take a look at another topic discussed at our recent ‘Rewarding You’ customer seminar – ‘Attracting talent in challenging times’.

Former Chief Executive of The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and ex HR Director at Royal Mail, Kevin Green, led the session discussing how to tackle turbulence in the labour market. With Brexit remaining an unknown, Kevin shared insights into his experience and thoughts on how organisations can brace themselves.

Ongoing recruitment and retention difficulties

According to preliminary results from our UK Reward Management Survey, 63 per cent of organisations have had difficulty in retaining staff and 75 per cent are finding it difficult to hire. Loyalty no longer automatically equates to higher salaries, with 63 per cent also having to offer new recruits salaries which conflict with existing employers. Kevin described these conditions as the ‘perfect storm’ – preconditions to a full blown talent crisis that the UK is heading towards.

We outline three macro trends that businesses must consider in their succession planning that emerged from our event.


Skills shortages

This creates both opportunities and threats in the modern workplace. The potential return on human capital has never been greater, even though technology destroys jobs. These are two powerful ideas that co-exist to demonstrate how we are at peak employment levels.

Of those employed, people’s ability to generate value is also at an all time high. Traditional roles that are labour intensive, such as those across the workforce at GM, mean that the return on human capital is lower (the market cap per GM’s 118,000 employees is $298k) as opposed to technology companies such as Facebook where the market capital for each of their 25k employees is $21m.

The skills shortage is a real threat to this however, with many sectors not having a strong pipeline of talent coming through the ranks. The lack of digital and engineering talent is being tackled with initiatives such as the apprenticeship levy and more bursaries for university students studying sought-after skills. These initiatives are critical to harness the opportunities involved in machine learning and AI, which will be inherent in the workplace of the future.


Employer brand and multi-phased careers

In an age where the three-phased life is unrecognisable and more people phase their retirement, the idea of job loyalty and joining a company for life is equally outdated. Employer branding needs to embrace this by considering the key question of why individuals should join an organisation. The employee value proposition needs to recognise this shift in power to a more equal employee-employer relationship and support individuals’ understanding of the role they can play in delivering a greater vision and purpose of the organisation.

It is estimated that 25 per cent of organisations make mistakes when hiring that costs the average business £133,000 for a £42,000 a year role. Yet still employer branding for many businesses uses corporate language and focuses on the recruitment process and what is involved. Employees want to know the authentic message of the company.

Recognising that many individuals will have a multi-faceted career, a longer career, and one which requires them to constantly upskill in light of the pace at which technology is moving will be critical for organisations to attract and retain the right talent. Equally employees will be clearer about the role they can play from the outset, equipping them with confidence and a sense of purpose. This can promote the energy and positive attitude individuals bring to their roles and increase the longevity of the employer-employee relationship.


Maintaining the momentum behind engagement

Maintaining momentum behind employee engagement is essential to retain the right talent. 30 per cent of employees say they are actively engaged at work which is concerning when numerous studies have proven the translation of this into customer loyalty and superior financial results.

Dan Pink, a leading authority in this field, identified how to drive engagement at work. Purpose, autonomy and mastery are the three key areas to work on with individuals to provide clarity around their role and the difference they make. Utilising the different strengths of your team is an adapted reading of this model, whereby each person plays to his or her strengths as part of the wider team.

Excellent leaders also play a pivotal role in employee engagement. A decisive leader who shows vision about what they want from their team can inspire and earn the trust of employees to create strong teams.

To read more of Kevin Green’s insights, read his book ‘Competitive People Strategy: How to attract, develop and retain the staff you need for business success’ due to be published in July 2019 and follow @kevingreenwnc.

Our Rewarding You events examine topical issues facing HR professionals and are designed to support our customers in future-proofing their businesses. Register your interest if you would like to join us at our next event in November.

Would you like a free copy of our Spring UK Reward Management Survey?

Take ten minutes to contribute your views about HR challenges currently being faced alongside your pay and reward outlook for 2019 and receive a copy of the survey report, which builds on ten years of data in the world of reward.

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