As the business world begins to recover from the pandemic, it’s important to realise that the challenges faced by organisations over the past two years – in particular, the battle to recruit – isn’t over yet. The search for great talent has increased in ferocity. If your company wants to succeed, it needs to look at two vital areas: training and recruitment.
First, let’s take an honest look at recruitment.
According to City A.M., 88% of business leaders think acquiring and retaining talent is more important to their business now than it was 18 months ago. Most believe it has overtaken technology as the key priority.
Yet, if this is true, then why are job vacancies at a record 20-year high in the UK? The pandemic has led to many workers leaving long-standing jobs. Some are simply leaving for ‘greener pastures’. Others are switching careers. With so many potential employees looking for jobs, recruitment should easier, but almost 50% of business leaders are not confident that they can attract the right talent to their company.
What are these companies looking for? Or, more importantly, perhaps: what are they not looking for?
Many companies speak of wanting ‘like-minded people’ to join them; employees who will fit in with the existing company culture. Although this is understandable, this approach to recruitment is limiting and – worse – actively harmful to futureproofing efforts.
The truth is, ‘like-minded’ is often a euphemism for people who share the same economic, ethnic and educational background as those already within the company. By only recruiting similar talent, companies are shutting themselves off to the opportunities provided by diversifying their team.
So, what should companies be looking for instead?
Diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords that Human Resources throws around in the company pamphlet. They are the most important concepts your organisation will ever embrace. As the business world changes, companies should look for opportunities to change with it, retiring old and redundant practices and thinking outside the box.
There are many ways to diversify your workforce, including recruitment, training, in-house promotions, and internships or apprenticeship schemes for graduates. Over the last few years, successful organisations have adjusted their stale hiring processes, embracing such methods as blind applications for a more equal assessment of candidates.
Whilst some view diversity and inclusion as a box-ticking exercise, the truly smart organisations understand these concepts are an opportunity for futureproofing success.
In January 2021, an article from The Guardian stated that employment for BAME workers dropped by 26 times more than the employment rate for white workers over the same period. Although these numbers were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the true source of the problem is systemic inequality in the workplace.
The numbers speak for themselves. A report by the UCL Institute of Education and Carnegie UK Trust showed that millennials from BAME backgrounds were 58% more likely to be unemployed. They were also 47% more likely to be on a zero-hours contract. Even those with permanent jobs were more likely to face difficulties with career progression. Of 1,024 senior positions in 28 areas of national importance, only 3% were from UK BAME backgrounds and less than 1% were BAME women.
Many companies are already actively trying to address and reverse this diversity gap. Companies and organisations are embracing new approaches, such as:
Evidence of this can be seen in every industry in the UK, as well as the popularisation of HR practices such as blind application processes. These can combat unconscious hiring biases, ensuring applicants are considered on merit and experience instead of a perceived culture fit.
It is an approach KTAS recommends, especially in the current business climate. Diverse workforces are demonstrably more successful than their ‘like-minded’ counterparts because they have the advantage of experience variety. After all, target markets and society are already diverse. If your workforce reflects that, they will create better outputs due to common experiences with your end users.
Many of us will remember the criticism faced by the government after their ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ campaign suggested that a ballet dancer should retrain as an IT worker during the coronavirus pandemic. However, this criticism was levelled at the government’s lack of funding for the arts, not the idea of reskilling itself.
Many of the people now looking for work are also looking to change their careers. For some, it is a necessary change due to redundancy. For others, it is an opportunity to take the leap into the career they have always wanted.
As an employer, it is easy to look at ‘second career’ candidates and see either a lack of experience or qualifications in your field. Yet, this candidate may still have the skills that your company desperately needs.
Don’t immediately dismiss a candidate who is starting a second career. Not only has COVID-19 made this a necessity for some employees, but many companies find that the introduction of ‘new blood’ benefits their way of business. Find out more about your ‘second career’ candidate: their communication and leadership skills, their overall experience and, most importantly, what drives them. They may be able to offer something more than the bullet points on their CV.
Of course, if you want to win the Global Talent War, recruitment isn’t the only option your company has. Don’t forget about your existing workforce!
Over a quarter of business leaders believe their employees (up to 49%) are preventing business progress, due to a lack of skills. Critical thinking and problem solving were highlighted as the most lacking, which is somewhat ironic.
If you want to be successful in the current business climate, a conversation needs to be had around upskilling and reskilling. It is the role of employers to identify skills gaps through critical thinking. It is also their role to solve the problem by facilitating their employees’ learning.
Many of your existing workers will welcome the chance to add a string to their bow. It’s an opportunity for growth and progression, which is both desirable for employees and integral to a company’s success. However, if the pandemic highlighted one thing, it is that your employees’ work-life balance cannot suffer for the benefit of your company.
Training is an investment. It is one that you make on your company’s behalf, even if it is your employees that acquire the knowledge. Therefore, it should be the company’s responsibility to provide not only access to that learning, but also the time it takes for the employees to learn their new skills.
This may also help with the problem of talent retention. In his City A.M. interview, co-founder and CEO of Beamery, Abakar Saidov, agrees: “… creating an environment that promotes talent mobility in which people want to stay, grow and develop is what will see the best engagement and retention of talent. For those moving too slowly, the consequences will be dire.”
The benefit of being proactive about in-house training is that you can create targeted courses to address your company’s specific needs. ‘One-size’ may fit all but it generally doesn’t flatter anyone; it is worth investing the time to understand what your company’s skill gaps are.
Here, too, is an opportunity for inclusion. Ensure your training is available to all. You never know whose talent might shine brightest.
How will your company fare in the Global Talent War? Are you on the winning side or do you need to change the way handle training and recruitment? Kirkwood Training and Skills can help your company address any skills or training gaps that it may have, tailoring courses to suit your specific needs. To find out more information, contact our team today.
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