When assessing the recruitment landscape in 2023, there’s no denying that the market is candidate-driven. However, throwing into the mix the demands of post-pandemic employees turns the recruitment and retention of candidates into a minefield for future and existing employers.
So, how can you navigate the recruitment minefield, and what should recruiters expect to encounter in 2023?
Since the start of 2022, talent shortages have been abundant. Throughout the UK and Europe, various industries and sectors have had recruitment agencies and corporate recruiting teams bending over backwards to entice new talent to their businesses. Most of them have opted for curating benefit-driven salary-beating packages to catch the eye of their desired talent.
But what if you’re a small and medium-sized enterprise that might not have a slew of disposable offerings to throw at new employees? Competing with the security and stability offered by larger organisations, especially in a candidate-driven market where job applicants are afforded the luxury of multiple offers to choose from, can feel like an impossible riddle to crack. Big organisations are getting creative, and employee demands are soaring as work-life balance becomes the top agenda for many candidates.
We are now amidst a perfect storm of nearly 500,000 surplus jobs in the UK (end of 2022). The predicted future instability of the economic climate adds to the conundrum of those looking to employ and retain staff. For many employers, a good old-fashioned salary increase to attract and retain employees simply isn’t feasible in such a pressured and unpredictable economic climate.
It begs the question: How do companies retain their staff and avoid the need to enter the murky waters of modern-day recruiting in the first place?
If you don’t want to find yourself fighting for attention in the current recruitment market, your best option is to start by shifting your focus to your existing employees. Workplace culture is one of the most critical aspects of employee retention that often gets overlooked, and when looking to recruit new team members, it is high on the list of questions you may get asked by candidates.
Let’s look at how you offer the best environment for employee retention.
1. Assess Employee Demands
Firstly, prudent employers should reassess the demands of their employees. Most would agree that the pandemic shifted the landscape of work culture for good. Subsequently, what workers expect from their employers has radically changed, and we’re now in a new era of work.
Employers with established workforces who want to avoid scrambling for new candidates should be willing to adapt what their organisation currently offers to meet these new needs. Of course, specific demands may not be fully attainable for some situations and roles, but you should work around these caveats to make offerings as reasonable and fair as possible. Employees want more than just a paycheck at the end of the month - and I’ll warn you, it’ll take more than a bowl of fruit in the staff room and some brightly coloured bean bags!
2. Offer Work-Life Balance
One of the most salient points the pandemic has presented is how individuals now view their employer as more than just an organisation that gives them financial remuneration in exchange for labour. What many refer to as “The Grind” on social media.
We’re seeing a lot of discussion around Hybrid Working, Work-Life Balance and People-centric culture at work. Employees now view these concepts as necessities, and if employers are shying away from embracing this shift in current working conditions, they may find their employees jumping ship. The same is true if you are anti-hybrid when recruiting new candidates. While not all businesses can offer hybrid working, those that can are encouraged to do so.
3. Mental Health and Employee Wellness
A key aspect of employee retention should be supporting the mental health need of staff. With the pandemic placing unprecedented pressures on teams, the likes of which most employees have never experienced, the need for mental health support has never been more relevant. Many employees will expect support from their employer, and you should be clear on what help is available to them.
Most organisations can train mental health first-aiders in the large corporate stratosphere, offering employee support programmes and occupational health provisions. However, it may be challenging for SMEs to find the time or resources to manage these provisions internally.
One viable solution for SMEs is to consult an experienced employee benefits advisor. Most large insurance firms have reacted quickly to this change in demand and offer a range of products that allow SMEs to outsource occupational health and employee assistance programmes. These provisions can aid business owners by supporting their workers with issues such as mental health, addictions, financial concerns and well-being guidance. I was pleasantly surprised at the affordability of some of these options, with support available from as little as a few pounds per month per employee.
4. Private Healthcare for Employees
Unfortunately, the NHS and support workers face immense pressure while responding to their recruitment issues. Waiting lists for “non-urgent” operations (and yes, hip and knee replacements, hernia operations and cataract surgeries are all considered “non-urgent”) are at an all-time high. On top of this, the continued hospital staff strikes are signals that these conditions aren’t changing soon.
Organisations with the resources to do so may consider how they can better support the health of their workers. For example, plugging the gap with private medical insurance or cash plans may be enough to stop employees from looking yonder and wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere!
The candidate-driven recruitment market is already seeing a spike in demand for better benefits from employers who want to differentiate themselves. It goes beyond a pizza party and a 4 pm Friday finish. Employees want improved workplace culture, flexible work-life balance, and benefits that care for their health.
Organisations willing to provide well-being packages and hybrid working offerings could find themselves with healthier staff retention rates without necessarily having to increase costs through pay rises. Though I must stress if a higher salary is an option, discuss this with your employees before assuming they’d prefer perks and benefits instead. These are challenging times for everyone!
A further potential benefit of health and wellness plans is their preventative care, resulting in lower losses through staff absence. But above all else, it’s the right thing to do for people, and your employee well-being should be at the forefront of all you do.
Or simply fancy a chin wag about the current recruitment landscape?
Slide into my DMs, and we can discuss this in further detail!
Matt, the Management Guy