Five top tips to attract talent in a candidate-short market
With salaries fluctuating, increased demand for flexibility and professionals difficult to come by, organisations are finding themselves battling for talent.To discuss this acutely candidate-driven jobs market, Reed held a webinar with four of its recruitment experts: ‘The great flirtation: how to attract the best professionals in 2022’. The event featured Reed Chairman and CEO James Reed, as well as Claire Harvey, Managing Director, UK Network, Chris Adcock, Managing Director, Reed Technology, and Lucie Daluiso, Divisional Managing Director, Further Education.The quartet used their industry experience and expertise to analyse the current jobs market, while also providing advice to businesses looking to hire in this environment. Here are five of their most prominent recommendations.1. Benchmark salaries to stay competitiveWith salaries fluctuating, knowing what the market rate is for jobs in your sector and region is critical for attracting talent.While professionals’ priorities have changed over the course of the pandemic, salary is still a critical factor. James noted that a Reed.co.uk workforce study from last autumn found that 39% of professionals rated salary as their number one priority when looking to move role, while over half suggested that their current employer raising their salary would make them less inclined to move.When it comes to using salaries to attract candidates, he added: “I would say to those companies looking to encourage people to move that they will have to pay a premium of 10% on salaries. What I mean by that is that if you find a good candidate who’s already in a job, you’ll get their attention by paying 10% above what they’re currently earning, or 10% above the market rate.”2. Tailor benefits packagesBenefits are an increasingly important part of any compensation package, helping organisations to stand out if their offering exceeds that of their competitors. Chris argued that the way to create eye-catching benefits packages is to be flexible and have individual preferences in mind when formulating them:“While people list salary as their number one motivator, benefits and rewards are very close behind. Benefits packages are really exciting for candidates because they will be looking at things specific to them.“It’s important to have a diverse and flexible benefits package, and to understand what drives individual candidates, so you can put the perfect package to them – there’s no point selling something to somebody which is going to fall on deaf ears.”3. Provide some form of flexibilityFlexibility has shifted dramatically due to the pandemic. Where remote working and other forms of flexibility were once seen as rare perks, they’re now playing a huge part in jobseekers’ considerations when looking for new roles.“We have some fabulous clients – some top companies - who are insisting on everyone going into the office, yet quite a lot of applicants are saying they don’t want to work for them, as they want to work flexibly,” James noted.For those roles which cannot be done remotely, Claire suggested that there are ways companies can incorporate flexibility to satisfy prospective employees, such as operating core hours-style models:“Something we were trialling at Reed, even before the pandemic, was our dynamic working model. It isn’t full hybrid working, but allows people to do the school run or go to the gym in the morning – adding some flexibility within the working day.”4. Engage candidates through the whole process – even after they’ve accepted an offerOne feature of the current talent market has been a huge increase in organisations issuing counteroffers to retain staff. These can range from significant salary increases through to a change of job title or increased responsibility.Claire outlined how to mitigate for this challenge and nurture people through their resignation, especially for professionals who are on longer notice periods: “You must treat that candidate like they have already joined your organisation and really involve them.“You really have to make sure that the candidate is engaged with you from the moment they enter the recruitment process through to the job offer. It’s never been more important to sell your business, so the whole experience must be good – from replying to their application promptly through to keeping in touch before and after interviews and giving them accurate feedback.”Lucie highlighted strategies used to keep candidates engaged while they wait for approval – as sometimes when applying for a job in the prison education sector it can take up to 12 weeks to go through all the security clearance:“We’ve implemented plans where candidates will have calls with the prison they’re going to work in at least once every two weeks, maybe even once a week. For ourselves, we’re trying to encourage a lunch or for people to come into the office – something a little more warm and friendly so that people know where they’re going to be working.”5. Offer a great place to workFor those organisations where workers are fully onsite or working hybridly, offering a wonderful place to work is an excellent way to attract professionals – particularly where people are unable to work remotely.“You need to think about how to make it more attractive to be in the office and how to make it a great place to work,” stated James. “I think being with groups of people, especially for younger candidates, is attractive – if you can create the environment and culture that makes it exciting.”Chris added that creating a fantastic culture and sense of togetherness, particularly in SMEs, is a way organisations can stand apart from their competitors – even if they are unable to match the compensation packages being offered by other companies.To benchmark salaries and benefits in your sector and region, download our 2022 salary guides now.
A four-day work week: the pros and cons
The past 16 months have given organisations time to consider how they operate, including the number of hours and days they require employees to work.It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we work in the UK, with many businesses having to abandon the office to work from home almost overnight. As well as this, over the last year we have seen the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the challenge of juggling home schooling, leaving many employers no choice but to allow for flexible working arrangements.With this sudden shift to working from home and an increase in hybrid working, we have seen more and more conversations around work-life balance and businesses questioning their ‘typical working week’.The five-day work week has become a cultural norm, especially in the UK, but after more than a year of change, is it time to rethink this approach and, if we do, would businesses continue to succeed? Or would productivity take a hit?We asked our LinkedIn followers: “Would you consider changing your company’s working hours to a four-day working week?”. With 919 votes, 50% said yes, but with the same hours, 33% said yes but with reduced hours, 12% said no, and 6% said they would consider it, but not at this time.With 83% of those surveyed in favour of a four-day week, there are many considerations companies must make when deciding if this is a course of action they would be willing to take.What is the case for a four-day work week?A four-day work week can be defined in two ways; the first is when an employee compresses their full-time hours (typically 35 hours) over a four-day period. And the second is reducing an employee’s hours (typically to 28 hours) over four days, so they are then able to have a three-day weekend.Many argue that, while the five-day work week used to be effective in the 19th century, it no longer suits the needs of the modern-day professional.With the evolution of technology, some day-to-day tasks are significantly more time-efficient, and with an uplift in office-based roles, we are seeing an argument that longer work hours do not necessarily mean staff are more productive.Notably, over the last couple of years, many countries across the globe including Japan, New Zealand, Spain - and most recently Iceland - have trialled the four-day work week to research the effect it has on its employees.Microsoft trialled four-day weeks in its Japanese offices and found the shortened work week led to more efficient meetings, happier workers and boosted productivity by a staggering 40%. Similarly, Iceland undertook a trial which monitored employees working reduced hours over a variety of public sector workplaces and found it to be an overall success, with 86% of the country's workforce now on a shorter work week for the same pay.In an article for the BBC, Will Stronge, Director of Research at four-day week consultancy Autonomy, said: “It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks - and lessons can be learned for other governments.”In the UK, many businesses have also trialled the four-day work week, and some have even made the permanent switch. Gloucestershire-based PR agency Radioactive Public Relations trialled a four-day week for six months and found the business was even more profitable and employees’ sickness days were halved.What are the advantages of a four-day working week?Large and small-sized companies trialling the concept have created an evidence-base of the benefits a four-day working week could bring to your organisation.An increase in productivity levelsResearch has shown that working fewer hours boosts productivity levels. With employees spending less time at work, they can feel happier and more fulfilled, leading to them focusing on their job when in the workplace.A large New Zealand business, Perpetual Guardian, trialled a four-day work week and found not only a 20% rise in productivity, but work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%.Environmental and cost-saving benefitsShortening your working week means that employees do not need to commute as much, reducing their carbon footprint.As we have seen throughout the pandemic, those businesses with employees working on the same four days can save on overheads and in some cases even be eligible for tax relief.Happier employees and fewer absencesAccording to mental health charity Mind, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week in England, and one in five agreed that they have called in sick to avoid work.Four-day work weeks leave employees more time to focus on personal development or spend time with loved ones. This will not only increase employees’ happiness, but can contribute to fewer burnouts, leaving them to be more focused and happier in their role.Better recruitment and retentionThe increase of hybrid working and remote working during the pandemic has led to employees wanting greater flexibility from their employers.The CIPD reported that the majority of people think flexible working is positive for their quality of life, and 30% of people think it positively affects their mental health. So, offering potential new and existing employees a flexible working pattern is a fantastic way of attracting and retaining talented professionals.What are the disadvantages of a four-day working week?Whilst there are benefits to a four-day work week, there are disadvantages too:"A four-day work week wouldn’t work practically because of the need to cover more shifts during a time where we are already facing staff shortages."Not all industries can participateUnfortunately, the four-day working week model does not suit every sector. Some businesses or professions require a 24/7 presence which would make a shortened work week unpractical and, in some cases, delay work - creating longer lead times.A nurse who wanted to remain anonymous expressed her reservations about a four-day week in the healthcare sector, saying: “As an A&E nurse a four-day working week wouldn’t work practically for us. Currently, we work long 12+ hour shifts in order to have four days off, which I prefer as it provides more of a work-life balance. However, while I know a four-day working week would be better for some of my colleagues due to childcare, the shorter, more regular shifts we would have to do on a four-day week wouldn’t work. It would mean the need to cover more shifts during a time where we are already facing staff shortages.”Unutilised labourA four-day week is not for everyone; some employees prefer the structure of a five-day working week or would prefer to put in more hours than a four-day working week offers.Likewise, some professions have tasks which simply take more time than others, which would lead to paying more in overtime or drafting in further staff to make up the shortfall (as happened in healthcare for the Icelandic study), which can ultimately become expensive.Final thoughts: should your business adopt the four-day work week?Although the shortened work week has taken off in many European countries and been successful for many UK businesses, it is an extreme approach for a company to take and requires a shift in mindset from the employer and employees for it to work effectively, so it may not be for everyone.While a more flexible approach on working hours is now expected from employees, a less disruptive, more gradual process would be adopting a hybrid or flexible working policy instead.Likewise, as mentioned above, the four-day model may not work for all sectors. What studies and data have proven is that organisations who are putting more focus on maintaining staff wellbeing, engagement, morale, and productivity are reaping the benefits.