Tackling the Talent Shortage Myth
Mark Hedley, Vice President of Talent Recruiting at Globalization Partners on how the Great Resignation can be turned into the Great Re-Engagement.
The last two years have been tumultuous for HR leaders. Responsible for overseeing the biggest virtual working experiment in history, workforce wellbeing and engagement became one of the top concerns in 2020 as organisations were forced to navigate new workplace norms. Fast forward to 2021 and HR teams faced a new challenge: responding to evolving workforce needs and expectations as long-term remote and hybrid working models took shape. After which, organisations found themselves in the midst of what has been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ or the ‘Great Reset’ that saw people looking to move to pastures new or quit work entirely.
The ongoing talent shortage and connected trends have been widely publicised over the past 12 months. According to a recent report, more than half (56 per cent) of UK companies are suffering as a result of skills shortages, with £1.2 billion being spent annually on temporary staff to fill these gaps.
There is little doubt that UK organisations are confronting a much tighter labour market at a point when today’s fast-paced competitive landscape means skills acquisition and workforce re-skilling needs to be framed with agility in mind. But is there really a shortage of talented people in today’s job market and is everything you read about the Great Reset actually true?
Myth versus reality: going beyond the headlines
The CIPD recently released a detailed analysis that busts some common misconceptions around what is actually going on and why.
Alongside explaining why there was a noticeable drop in job seeking during the pandemic that contributed to the Great Reset once recovery began, the CIPD explores how the pandemic experience led many people to re-evaluate what they want from a job in terms of work-life balance. With UK unemployment rates now at a record low, many are no longer willing to accept roles with companies whose cultural values don’t align with their own or where their professional ambitions and development needs aren’t recognised.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn has published hiring data that highlights how the Great Resignation in the UK is a much more nuanced phenomenon where certain sectors are clear winners in today’s booming jobs market. The report explores what’s motivating older and younger workers to shift jobs, where they are transitioning to, and why LinkedIn has redesignated the Great Resignation as the ‘Great Reshuffle’. It also advises that organisations would be wise to embrace empowering employees with choices, flexibility and upskilling options if they don’t want their best and brightest talent to quit.
Expanding available talent pools
Recently, a You and Yours episode on Radio 4 featured the stories of so-called ‘boomerang employees’ who have returned to the workplace and the companies they once worked for. Speaking on the programme, Janine Chamberlin, UK manager for LinkedIn, revealed how five per cent of all new hires in 2021 were these so-called ‘boomerangers’.
An online poll prior to the programme revealed the top two reasons that prompted people to return to the fold included wanting a sense of belonging/being part of a culture and being notified about a specific job opportunity that enabled them to utilise their newly acquired skills and experiences.
For organisations the message is clear. Having conversations with employees and asking them where they want to go next before they look externally is of paramount importance. Plus, the complexities of the current workforce landscape, littered as it is with recent furloughs and terminations, means there is value to be had from building and maintaining an alumni network that enables organisations to keep their doors open and target potential boomerang employees.
Likewise, reframing the screening and hiring process can also help prevent making the talent shortage even greater than it needs to be. All too often, entry-level roles require three or more years of prior experience, making young jobseekers instantly ineligible. Attracting these first-time job seekers means ensuring that training and mentoring are part and parcel of the deal and that their lack of experience won’t be a barrier to applying.
Similarly, many junior management or next step roles often specify a raft of specific qualifications and requirements which again limits who can potentially apply. Yet what is most important to perform the role will be a candidate’s self-motivation, ambition and proven ability to communicate, collaborate as part of a team and deliver results.
By eliminating unnecessary requirements from job specifications and rethinking how they assess talent, organisations will be able to expand their talent pool search to include a much broader number and range of potential candidates who, regardless of their background, could be upskilled with specific know-how once in the role.
Looking beyond borders
While talent may be scarce for some sectors or specialities, if companies are prepared to think beyond their immediate geographic local recruitment market they can instantly increase their talent acquisition capabilities. In today’s connected world of work, employees can easily be based more than 50 miles away from an office location, thanks to remote selection and onboarding platforms that now enable HR teams to widen their recruitment net. That includes going beyond national borders to search even farther afield.
Around the globe, talent hubs are booming with highly skilled professionals and specialists offering a raft of skills that may be in short supply in local markets. These included skilled engineers, customer service gurus, analysts, sales experts, software engineers and more. Currently, some of the most predominant talent hubs are in Mexico City, Toronto, Colombo, Singapore and Berlin where professionals are eager to join organisations offering the right opportunities.
Accessing these talent pools, however, depends on tapping into end-to-end global employment platforms that will tackle all critical aspects of talent acquisition and retention. For organisations not experienced in international hiring, this will be critical for navigating local market nuances to ensure international hiring is handled in a compliant and risk-free manner.
Thinking outside the box
While scare stories about the Great Resignation might be overinflated, one thing is clear. Companies need to rethink who, how and where they hire if they want to ensure their talent pool continues to thrive and function at the highest level. To succeed in today’s fast-changing employment market, HR leaders will need to rethink how they evaluate talent and figure out ways to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Re-engagement by delivering the experiences and opportunities today’s employees expect and want.
Finally, while the UK is undoubtedly facing new challenges within recruitment, untapped talent exists all over the world. It’s simply a case of finding it and onboarding it in the most optimised, compliant and effective way possible.