Winning the war for talent

Olly Harris, Managing Director, Page Outsourcing on why so many employers are outsourcing their recruitment

Since businesses began to bounce back from the pandemic-related economic slowdown around 2021, we’ve seen a very buoyant recruitment market, with organisations eager to rebound and expand.

Many have focused on growing headcount and scaling up quickly. This activity has often been more than in-house HR and talent functions can handle, leading employers to seek external support to close staffing gaps. At PageGroup, we have seen huge demand for outsourced recruitment and workforce management solutions.

How are employers approaching talent acquisition in 2023?

That initial post-pandemic recruitment reboot has since slowed down a little, and we’re getting back to what feels more like a ‘normal’ recruitment climate.

Some of the big tech firms, banks, and listed companies have been looking to reset and adjust after a frantic recruitment period and are now hiring at a slower pace. We’ve even seen hiring pauses and restructuring among some medium to large sized organisations as they aim to review their headcount.

However, this dynamic feels like a ‘moment in time’. We expect to see these big corporations ramp up the hiring pace once again, after they’ve had time to reflect and plan for the new working landscape of higher energy prices, and a more balanced, hybrid working environment.

It’s been interesting to see that, while hiring pace has generally slowed a little across sectors, demand for talent remains elevated. Therefore, organisations are still seeking solutions for recruitment challenges, and outsourcing solutions have retained or even enhanced their attractiveness for employers.

Why outsourcing is a popular option in an uncertain market

Although the big post-pandemic hiring push has eased up a bit, the recruitment space remains very much candidate-led across most sectors and industries.

For example, STEM roles are still seeing skills shortages, with significant salary inflation. This is posing further recruitment challenges, as outlined in Page Outsourcing’s 2023 Guide to Outsourcing Strategy and Salaries. Demand for good outsourcing recruitment options has remained high, largely as a result of these skills shortages and salary inflation occurring at the same time.

Outsourced recruitment, in this context, is about bringing in recruitment specialists to help businesses win the war for talent through more holistic solutions. For instance, when companies work with an outsourcing specialist, they move away from reliance on in-house human resources teams. Instead, they are bringing in expert recruiters to leverage not only their existing tools, but the additional resources and scale of the partner.

For many companies, being able to strike a more agile agreement with a recruitment process outsourcer helps manage the ebb and flow of hiring needs within a particular model, aiding flexibility.

This approach also reduces the number of hires HR functions have to handle and lets them focus more time on core HR work. Plus, it takes work away from business leaders who would previously have had to spend time and resources on hiring. Essentially, outsourced recruitment enables business leaders to focus on running the business, rather than worrying about where staff savings are coming from and speaking to multiple recruitment agencies.

In this uncertain economic climate, outsourced recruitment is a sensible, flexible short-term recruitment method to use while navigating choppy waters.

The future of the talent market

New roles and career paths are emerging all the time. From cybersecurity specialists countering ever-evolving cyber-attack styles, to manufacturers of wind turbines and heat pumps in ‘green’ tech fields, the roles of the coming decades are already being created in key areas of the economy.

This raises many questions. Does the UK currently have enough skilled, qualified professionals coming out of schools and universities, to meet these needs? Are employers helping the workforce retool and retrain for these future opportunities? What else can the government do to support workers and employers?

While demand for professionals capable of working in these emerging roles is understandably high, recruiting these roles without the necessary expertise around talent attraction and assessment is only becoming more difficult. For some roles, upskilling and retraining could bridge gaps – but that won’t be possible in all cases. Navigating the race for talent as the job market continues to transform will require even deeper specialist recruitment knowledge, especially around identifying relevant, transferable skills and experiences.

Employers will need an integrated approach to early careers, established hires, contingent workers, permanent staffing, statements of works, and more. With that in mind, we expect the world of outsourcing to only get busier, as businesses leverage the opportunities that outsourcing brings.

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