Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

XpertHR finds that 44% of UK businesses struggle to match competitors’ pay and benefits as fight for skilled workers continues

Findings reveal that 78% of UK businesses say poor quality applicants is the biggest recruitment problem over the last year, but over half will be tackling this with enhanced pay and benefits

XpertHR® have found that UK organisations are struggling to find the skills their business needs, with poor quality applicants (78%) and skills shortages (77%) being named as the biggest hiring issues HR and recruitment professionals have faced over the past 12 months. However, 44% said they had difficulty matching competitors’ packages (pay and benefits), meaning they could be losing the top candidates to other organisations. 26% of organisations also stated they had difficulty retaining new hires.

Despite unemployment currently at 4.2%, employers are still struggling to source talent because candidates lack the necessary skills and experience, putting their business resiliency at risk. Of the skills HR and recruitment professionals are looking for, specialist skills (either required in their organisation or specific to individual roles) were the most-cited skill that organisations, regardless of sector, were struggling to recruit for (88%). Alongside this, soft skills like leadership (37%) and management skills (33%) were also proving difficult to source.

To address skills shortages, 43% have offered enhanced training programmes to upskill both new and existing colleagues, but over half (58%) reported that their organisation is offering more appealing pay and benefits to candidates, and 52% are providing enhanced pay to retain current employees.

With HR, reward, and recruitment professionals preparing for their busiest recruitment period in Q1 – 2023 saw its peak of vacancies posted in January to March according to the ONS - they need to ensure they are reaching skilled candidates and providing a competitive pay and benefits package that can be a strong incentive for candidates and current employees alike. However, organisations should take a data driven approach to remain competitive, without breaking the budget. With tools such as XpertHR pay grading and benchmarking solutions, organisations can design and optimise a pay structure that not only meets its business objectives, but aligns with employee and candidate expectations, as well as the wider market.

Bar Huberman, content manager, HR strategy & practice at XpertHR, comments:

“Despite challenging economic conditions, many businesses have been able to survive, and even thrive, in recent years. However, this business resilience is down to having the right people with the right skills in the right roles. As business leaders, HR and talent acquisition teams prepare for the new year and the recruitment flurry it brings, now is the time to reassess reward packages and leverage benchmarking technology to ensure market competitiveness through packages that attract top talent and promote employee satisfaction. Additionally, facilitating internal mobility can address some skills shortages, while providing meaningful training and development can also be an enticing way to engage and retain a current employee.”

For further insights on this survey visit:

Additional key takeaways:

  • Just one in five (19%) businesses  rated their ability to source quality hires as very effective in the last 12 months
  • In private sector services, 92% struggled to recruit for specialist skills, almost 10% higher than in the public sector (83%)
  • To improve employee retention, 67% of organisations are focusing on improving their pay, reward and recognition