Heidi Thompson: Tackling the talent shortage

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Heidi Thompson: Tackling the talent shortage

The ‘war on talent’ continues to be an on-going problem across all sectors. Nobody is immune to the shortages in talent that businesses are facing. The battle shouldn’t be shied away from though, as there are plenty of ways to tackle the talent gap.

Crunching the numbers

The low unemployment rate has made it harder for employers, it has created a lot of difficulty when it comes to hiring new talent as the vast number of eligible candidates are already employed.

This is where the war on talent begins. The people with the right skills and would be desirable candidates aren’t looking for a new role and they’re likely to be comfortable where they are. The low unemployment level has created a high demand for skilled professionals, and when a candidate becomes open to a new opportunity, the window is extremely small before a recruiter or other HR professional reaches out with a role.

This means that businesses need to develop an approach to filling the gap in their talent in an effective way that works for the candidate – and eventual employee – and the businesses’ wider strategy.

Creating a connection

The shortage of talent has created a candidate-lead market, and this puts talented candidates in a strong position. While companies want the best talent more than ever before, the best talent equally wants more than ever before.

Building an employer brand is key to attracting talent. This remains a key focus for Duncan & Toplis, a chartered accountancy and business advisers firm, as we recognise that very few people join companies that they don’t have a connection to. Graduates particularly are more likely to take jobs at companies they already have had a connection with in the recent past.

Graduates are switched on to social media and are open to digital marketing, so when they look to the job market for their first step in the career ladder, they’re likely to be looking to what they already know. Including companies that they have had some level of interaction with before, whether it be buying a product or service from it, or seeing a relevant advert on social media. So it’s essential that businesses create touch points – online and in the press – so when a potential candidate (graduate or otherwise) is open to opportunities, they already know of your business.

Graduates, millennials and Generation Z continue to enter the market, and they are more vocal about what they covet and have varied talents that businesses can really benefit from. For the new generations this isn’t about working less, but differently. Job security is less important than development and other ways of working.

It’s essential that in the coming years, companies are able to attract and retain skilled workers and help them come back to more traditional career paths that are slipping out of favour.

Companies need to listen to what employees now expect and sell themselves in equal measure to the candidate. By creating an excellent company culture that embraces the individual and encourages personal and professional growth, your company will be the workplace of choice for years to come for skilled candidates.

Promoting individuality

Attracting talent is one thing, but retaining it is another thing entirely. One area to focus on is promoting individuality. Being a company that promotes equality and diversity is increasingly important and bringing a range of voices to the table is at the heart of any organisation. When hiring from a pool of new, external candidates, it’s crucial that employers are hiring a diverse range of people and promote equality from recruitment stage all the way through to employees who have been at the company for many years.

A multi-generational team with diverse backgrounds is essential for any company, from different talents and experiences to points of view and approach.

Alongside this, it’s important to recognise that every employee has different needs, and should be treated on an individual basis, from the benefits they receive to the flexibility that’s available to them. Taking the time to understand the needs of a workforce will ensure your employees are happy at work, and will be less likely to take their talents to a business that is recognising the importance of treating everyone based on their needs. This is especially important when a company is investing in career development. Building company loyalty works both ways!

Grow your talent

While it’s important to continue to look for talent from the wider market, a simple way to tackle the talent shortage is by growing talent internally.

Career development is highly sought after for new generations and more established professionals alike. While millennials are often driven and eager to climb the ladder quickly, Generation X has felt the impact of new generations entering the workforce and being promoted at a quicker rate than them. Now is the time for companies to address these imbalances and ensure that talent within the company is being given equal opportunities for development if they want them.

People often want more opportunities to do what they do best. Giving people room to grow encourages them to buy into your business for the long term and makes them less likely to leave for pastures new. Investing in talent and caring about your team is a sure-fire way to retain the best of the best and adds another layer to creating a more individualistic approach to your people’s worklife.

There are countless benefits that come from investing in your people. They’re going to be delivering a better service to clients, they’re likely to be happier and of course, they’re going to be more invested in your business. There is the added benefit of saving the company money in the long run, because losing someone you have hired and trained can cost companies almost four times their salary.

Developing a company where people want to work is absolutely key to winning the war on talent. Taking a different approach to company culture will set you apart as you look to attract the very best talent.

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About Heidi Thompson

Heidi Thompson is HR director and head of HR and payroll services at Duncan & Toplis, heading up the internal HR team for the company as well as HR Services for clients.
Heidi is a Fellow of CIPD, with a Master’s Degree in HR Management and a Diploma in Education and Training. Heidi has over 25 years’ experience working in both the private and public sector for a variety of different companies including manufacturing, oil and gas, investment banks, facilities management, charities, Government bodies, schools and healthcare.
She is also an experienced teacher having taught HR and employment law courses, including CIPD and ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) accredited courses.

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