Dec 2021

The war for talent is back

Author: John

The UK economy is set to grow by 6.8% in 2021, the fastest annual growth in GDP since World War II (According to the EY Item Club using the Treasury’s own model). That means more jobs, more vacancies, more hiring, more attrition and more competition. Added to which, unemployment is predicted to be as low as 4.5% next year (it was 4% pre COVID).

So, here we go. The war for talent is well and truly back on. And if you’re feeling more like Captain Mainwaring after a year of little or no recruitment activity rather than an elite SS Panzer General, don’t panic, you aren’t doomed. With a clear plan and the right mindset you can come out on the winning side as indeed did our dear friends of Walmington-on Sea.

So, where to start…?

The first port of call is to check in on your EVP and Employer Brand. The whole world of work has changed since COVID. Are your EVP and Employer Brand still the relevant and compelling tool in your armoury you need it to be. Are they authentic? Do they have the right level of aspiration and do they serve the purpose of being the foundation (in the case of the EVP) and the consistent identity (Employer Brand) of your talent strategy? Get the basics in place and things are easier thereafter.

And what of your reputation as an employer? Do you know? A survey by the Harvard Business Review found almost half would entirely rule out accepting a job with a company who had a negative reputation. So the next stage of your planning needs to address how do you build a truly positive and authentic reputation as an employer.

And if you want to be seen as a great employer, then you need to be seen. Where is all that fresh talent going to come from. It’s time to address your attraction strategy. There is no silver bullet. You break what feels like a big target into manageable chunks and put a pragmatic action list behind each one. You plan carefully, execute with flair and measure everything. We call it a ‘mixing desk’ approach. If the job boards aren’t working then dial them down or measure and manage them better. Dial up (or better still, supercharge ) on your referral scheme. Don’t just ‘do a bit on LinkedIn’, supercharge that too. Energise your talent pools – and that includes alumni. Plan Early Years now, don’t wait. And, don’t forget this isn’t just about you finding them, make it easy for them to find you.

Set your bar high – not just in terms of cost per hire, but time to hire, a great candidate experience, great interview/offer/acceptance/start ratios and superb onboarding and induction.

Every element in your attraction strategy is an opportunity, both now and for the future – and none more so than to unlock the potential in your social media presence. It’s not ‘free’ and it’s not ‘easy’ but it can be the gift that keeps on giving if you nail the strategy and follow a clear process – whether you’re trying to hire an extremely rare and expensive one off, or, seeking multiple teams of front line colleagues. Social media isn’t the future – it’s the here and now and has been for quite some time, so find the right partner and build the right plan.

And, once we’ve worked so hard to generate all those potential new hires and invite them back to the careers site to find out more, what will they say, feel and experience? Is it going to fire their interest or turn them off? If some bits of your attraction strategy aren’t firing on all cylinders then it’s recoverable, but if your careers site gives a poor experience you’re always going to struggle. So, again, set the bar high and don’t compromise.

One more thing. You’re going to have enough new vacancies to cover without adding to the workload by having high staff turnover. So, in parallel, run the sort of engagement and retention programme that, as far as possible, ‘shuts the back door’. You’ll be glad you did!

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