It goes without saying that since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic the employment market has faced an incredibly tumultuous time, however the signs of recovery are now emerging. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG has recently announced that the demand for staff has risen to its highest level in over 23 years and in addition the unemployment rate is falling. These figures are the first signs that the post-pandemic recovery is starting to gain traction. Amanda Simpson, CEO of leading business services specialists, SVC Solutions, has witnessed this uplift in the market first hand. The pandemic has significantly changed the employment landscape as candidates shift their focus to flexible working and the need for job security meaning that employers need to think more strategically when searching for new talent.
As we emerge from an unprecedented period for the jobs market and the wider economy it is perhaps no surprise at all to find that some things have changed significantly. Not only do businesses and employers need to feel their way through these changes they also need to adapt and enhance their offering to employees if they want to attract the very best talent.
In line with the REC report, SVC Solutions has seen a 60% uplift in the number of vacancies for which we are recruiting, resulting in successfully placing 40% more candidates. Not only are these numbers extremely encouraging there is currently little sign of them dwindling. However, we are noticing some interesting trends emerging from these roles.
Firstly, the jobs are out there, but the candidates are harder to find. The furlough scheme has undoubtedly been a life line for many businesses and individuals alike and was a solution that was very much needed during the pandemic. However, we are currently noticing that the demand for employees is currently outpacing the number of quality candidates who are currently seeking roles. We are often creatures of habit and don’t much like change, and recently it seems that workers are happy to be placed on furlough with the prospect of going back to work for their existing employer, rather than looking for a new role and getting back to the workplace sooner.
There are likely a number of factors driving this, from the straightforward reason of being happy to be on reduced pay and not being in work, to loyalty to existing employers and lack of confidence in the job market. Throughout the pandemic we have repeatedly heard the rhetoric of industries struggling, businesses failing and unemployment rising. Whilst this has been the case for some, it is not the case for all. Some sectors have done well and as the economy begins to re-open we need to change the narrative around employment to one of opportunity. Not only will this boost confidence in the job sector it will encourage quality employees to consider looking at new roles.
A common myth that also needs to be dispelled is that of there being swathes of people falling over each other to take on low paid roles. With furlough still providing security for many employees and uncertainty in the marketplace as a whole, employers need to be putting compelling offers on the table to attract the best candidates. This could mean improving the financial incentive, moving away from a minimum wage role in order to ensure your business can attract high quality applicants.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in many employees getting their first taste of a working from home job role and whilst for some this hasn’t been ideal, we are currently seeing a large number of applicants looking for homeworking positions. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of campaigns such as Flex Appeal, which supports more flexible working across the UK. With buy-in coming from large employers such as Sir Robert McAlpine, it is apparent that employers may find they have to adapt to a more flexible way of working in order to remain competitive in the jobs market.
At this point however I feel that is important to pause and consider this: are new recruits really what your business needs? If you were to look at your existing team objectively you mostly have an existing pool of talented and committed staff. How could you support them to grow, to step up, to fill gaps in the business?
Our job as business service providers is to look at organisations holistically and objectively, providing a consultative approach. Whilst clients might come to us saying, ‘Amanda, I need more staff,’ it can often be the case that what they need is additional skills. Whether this is in management, a practical discipline or specialist field we try to encourage our clients to consider whether it would in fact be more effective to invest in training one or two existing staff members. Enabling existing employees, who already know your business, to grow in their role(s), rather than going to the expense of another salary, and embedding new people into a business, can often be a much smoother transition. Not only this, but there are many service providers who can support you with this training. At SVC Solutions we offer a bespoke scheme called Management in a Box. It quite simply does what it says on the tin and helps businesses advance existing employees into management roles. These courses are bespoke to clients businesses and get to the heart of what they need.
Coaching is an option for those businesses looking for something slightly less formal that can help employees to develop, and fine tune their capabilities. These powerful one-to-one sessions can focus on skills, mind-set and practical tactics to implement in the workplace and can often yield meaningful results extremely quickly. Coaching is also a great tool to utilise for employees returning to the team following a period of furlough, allowing them to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
The post pandemic recovery is gaining traction within the job market at a record speed and as a business at the forefront of the recruitment industry, we are committed towards helping businesses gain the support they need to ensure they are finding the right talent or investing in its current teams.