The level of restructuring and redundancy exercises over the past 12 months has been staggering. Businesses across almost all sectors felt the squeeze of the pandemic. The seemingly inevitable headcount reductions were abated by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, however the UK still finds itself with the largest number of unemployed people of working age in forty years.
Our recent experiences with our clients, trade association partners and wider network do suggest that green shoots of recovery are beginning to emerge. With positivity spreading at news of the vaccination roll out gathering pace, and promises of restrictions easing, many businesses previously forced into limbo can now realistically forecast when they will begin to trade again. Following months of damaging cash burn, false re-starts and uncertainty prolonged by the slow crawl towards March’s UK Budget, the industries hit hardest by the pandemic (hospitality, leisure, tourism and oil & gas for example) approach the idea of being able to bolster staff numbers with cautious optimism.
Of course, many options exist to expand your workforce, covid-permitting. Businesses operating offshore, in tech, engineering and financial services may still look to maintaining an elastic cost base through a blend of employees, workers and off-payroll contractors. Hospitality, leisure and tourism’s traditional variable-hour workers will also be highly sought-after. Some UK businesses may not have a sufficient number of people to meet their projected demand, for example if they required to make redundancies in order to survive.
Anticipating that we may reach a point this year where restrictions ease overnight, it is vital that a clear expansion strategy is prepared by any business not wishing to be left behind in the recruitment race.
So what should businesses be doing now around their expansion strategy? We share three key steps, with expert input from recruitment specialists, around how your business should prepare.
Make your company attractive
As a business, it is so important to demonstrate your values and your culture to potential candidates.
Katie Drummond, Director at Syme Drummond explains
“There are lots of areas that companies will need to consider but company culture is right at the top of that list when it comes to talent attraction and ensuring your employer brand stands out from the crowd. Most remote workers we have spoken to have expressed a desire to continue to work remotely after the pandemic is over.”
Embedding a culture that will pair commercial gain with employee engagement is desirable. The key ‘enablers’ and considerations in successfully marrying these two objectives are summarised here. It is likely that after the mass migration to home working in 2020, a clear, progressive position on agile working will be crucial in attracting quality, diverse candidates. Drummond agrees:
“Even if 100% remote working is not an option for your business, you are still going to have to factor in more flexibility and agile ways of working in 2021 if you wish to attract the top talent.”
Expand your mind (and your candidate pool)
Building on the concept of opening a varied, high quality candidate pool, Simon Stratford, Talent Acquisition Manager of Leyton UK hopes to see a shift towards increasing competency focus:
“You will be able to find skills and experience that pre-lockdown you may never have considered which will strengthen your workforce for the new way of working.
A change in focus is now needed with more attention being paid to what a person is capable of achieving rather than what they have achieved in the past. This can be uncovered using more in-depth screening techniques such as competency-based frameworks.
One other thing to bear in mind is that candidates’ expectations of an employer will now also have changed. With working from home and an increased level of flexibility now the norm, many job seekers will expect this moving forward.”
Katie Drummond believes there is also huge benefit in a demonstrable commitment to diversity in talent acquisition, from candidate scouting, scoping job specifications through to selection:
“Individuals looking at job adverts want to see increased diversity so companies need to consider what this looks like in their business. Establishing a diverse workforce has already been proven as beneficial, encouraging collaboration, enhanced team creativity, faster problem-solving and greater employee engagement. As the benefits become more apparent, it is vital in-house recruiters eliminate bias as much as possible, using inclusive advertising and carefully designed recruitment processes to ensure a fair process for all.”
Remember, if recruiting from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you must have an eye on the post-Brexit right to work rules. Lexleyton’s Right to Work Pack can be downloaded here.
Have a slick recruitment process
Few things would turn a candidate off your company like a clunky, inefficient recruitment experience. If your business is in a position to recruit, it is likely others will be doing the same. An efficient, positive and proactive candidate experience will increase your chances to securing your desired people.
Gillian Dolan, Regional Manager at REED Specialist Recruitment summarises this point succinctly:
“Don’t wait for the right candidate to appear in response to your advert. The competitive nature of the market, especially in cities, is making it less and less likely that the right candidate will see your advert at the right time and apply for it. Be proactive and cover the market to make sure your opportunities are being promoted properly.
Move quickly if you can. The best candidates will often receive multiple offers and the having a concise, effective process can be the deciding factor in a candidate’s decision-making.”
If you would like a free consultation with one of our specialist team of employment lawyers around key people management areas that would help ready your business for bounce back, don’t hestitate to reach to us at email@example.com