erika-bannermanIf there is one thing that gives power to employees, it’s a skills shortage. Employees realise that their knowledge and abilities are crucial to their company’s performance which can make them curious about how much they would be valued by other businesses. Even if workers are happy in their current role, it’s likely that they would be open to new offers or are more likely to simply see what’s out there. We expect this shift in power to intensify in the coming year, especially in London.

As businesses emerge from the recession, aiming to grow and innovate, it is inevitable that gaps in skills and talent will become defined. Employers therefore need to start thinking about the threat of skills shortages now to develop strategies that will not only retain key staff but also attract new talent which will prove vital for business growth. However, according to a recent survey of 1,000 London workers conducted as part of Brook Street’s Survive & Thrive campaign (www.surviveandthrive.co.uk), many businesses seem to be underestimating the changing nature of the employment market. The results suggest that employers might have been lulled into a false sense of security about their workforce which could cost them dearly in coming months.

The survey found that the majority of Londoners (68%) have battled with heavier workloads and tasks beyond the remit of their job description but only 34% have had their effort rewarded in the form of a pay rise and even less, just 15%, have been promoted. Unsurprisingly, over half (54%) of workers feel taken for granted by their employers and they are starting to look for work elsewhere. In fact, four in five of London employees are open to new job offers and one in five are actively looking for a new job. The survey also indicates that a third of Londoners said that they are now willing to take more risks when it comes to changing jobs, suggesting that workers are starting to realise how much they’re worth and the value that they bring to their business.

Employers need to get to grips with this shift in staff attitude before they find themselves losing key staff. Losing talent is difficult at the best of times but when it happens unexpectedly, it can cause real harm to the business. With the increasing threat of skills shortages, added difficulty of businesses not being able to fill the role fast enough can create additional costs and contribute to pressure on the existing workforce. It’s crucial that employers understand what their current staff need, what makes them tick and what would also make them move jobs. It is also important that employers are visible to their candidate market even at times when they are not hiring.

As a whole, we have seen the UK’s jobs market growing month on month and while some economists focus on the puzzle of how the jobs market is growing even though GDP is not, employers need to realise what it means for them and their particular business. The reality is that the competition to secure the top talent has intensified in recent months and this has also pushed the salaries up.
It’s crucial that this realisation is ingrained into businesses’ talent strategies. Employers have to tackle the frustration that workers feel head on and nurture a positive relationship based on value and loyalty. Those who assume that good talent is plentiful and at their disposal are likely to face high staff churn in coming months. Key talent will be snatched by competitors leaving employers struggling to fill the roles, when a clear retention strategy could help to mitigate these risks and keep workers happy.

About Erika Bannerman