5 Steps to Build and Future-Proof a Flexible UK Workforce

5 Steps to Build and Future-Proof a Flexible UK Workforce

Key Takeaways:

  • In this current market, it’s essential to adapt to changing recruitment landscapes, leverage current trends, and prioritize candidate experience and employer branding to build a resilient and adaptable workforce.
  • Navigating the recruitment environment demands resilience, agility, and flexibility to align with evolving market trends and candidate motivations.
  • There’s a need for proactive measures, such as leveraging diverse recruitment channels, employee ambassador programs, and a compelling employer brand to attract and retain top talent in an evolving landscape.
  • Establishing clear and prioritized recruitment goals, evaluating past strategies, and integrating improvements are vital for effective recruitment planning.

The UK recruitment industry has faced far-reaching changes in recent years. The landscape has been very challenging with intense competition to secure talent. There are signs that the pressures are starting to ease. Office for National Statistics figures from October 2023 show that vacancies fell by 43,000 in the last quarter. This now appears to be a trend, with vacancies lowering in 14 of 18 different sectors.

Yet, industry analysis suggests that challenges in recruitment will persist due to factors such as shortages in certain skill sets and a population that is getting older. The war for talent is set to continue for some time to come. The most recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) research shows that 41% of employers surveyed had vacancies that they consider ‘hard-to-fill.' The problems are slightly more pronounced in the public sector but still very challenging in the private sector too.

In the face of persistent difficulties in the recruitment market, organisations must deliver a positive candidate experience. Talent that does not experience this will go elsewhere to firms that do demonstrate it. Navigating the current recruitment environment requires resilience. At the same time, remaining agile and flexible to market trends and candidate motivations is critical, given that the supply and demand gap remains – which is especially true for high-demand positions, where recruitment is particularly difficult.

In this tough situation, recruitment strategies must be current and brand messaging must genuinely address the needs of candidates. But how can organisations ensure a future-proofed and flexible workforce? Here are the key steps to achieving this:


1. Identify Skills Gaps

A skills analysis is a helpful place to start in future-proofing a workforce. Skills in demand change over time, so research is needed to pinpoint the skills needed for each role at the organisation. Following this, recruitment professionals need to know who has these skills at the company currently and where any resulting skill gaps might be.

Identifying skills and skill gaps can help hiring companies find some agility within their workforce. Some employees may be positioned to take on additional role duties while positions are in the process of being filled. Equally, internal training can also help fill skills gaps and ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge needed to achieve success in their current roles.

As part of the skills auditing process, reviewing current roles and potential career paths is helpful because where employees see opportunities for growth, retention will be higher. This also feeds into the employer brand. Where opportunities for skills development exist, the employer brand will be attractive to those seeking progression. Companies must ensure the employer brand and employer value proposition (EVP) reflects this as well. To elaborate, if a candidate is expecting to grow in a company, identifying skills to help or ways they can grow into new roles ensures the EVP is strong and meets the candidate and employees' needs and expectations, fostering a better reputation.

flexible workplace


2. Find the Right Fit

In such a challenging recruitment market, tried and tested ways of reaching top talent may not be as effective as in the past. Understanding where the “right fit” candidates may be found is the best way to achieve recruitment success.

New talent may be found in many places, which may not necessarily be where hiring professionals are currently looking. Instead of relying on existing platforms and posting traditional advertisements, consider other places where candidates might be found. These might include TikTok, Bing Ads, Google Job Ads, and LinkedIn. Also, understanding each generation and their motivations helps hiring professionals understand how to target these top candidates and learn where they are and what they're interested in – which in turn helps companies create content that aligns with their expectations and can help attract candidates.


Utilise Hiring Events

Lately, hiring events have become an effective method for attracting top talent. Utilizing platforms like Indeed's hiring events, these gatherings can take place virtually or in person. They serve as a centralized opportunity to showcase open positions to a broad candidate base.

These events serve a dual purpose: they offer a great platform to connect with numerous candidates at once and enable companies to engage individuals keen on learning more about their organization. This engagement tactic boosts awareness and significantly broadens the talent pool.

Furthermore, specific hiring events cater to particular industries. A targeted approach not only helps companies but also introduces local talent to opportunities they might have been unaware of previously – allowing candidates the opportunity to talk to people from a company and ensure they’d be a right fit for the team.

Keeping abreast of new places and formats for finding and promoting roles to potential candidates will lead to recruitment advantage in securing top talent. 


3. Set Recruitment Goals

Setting effective recruitment goals for the upcoming period requires a crystal clear understanding of what hiring “needs” are – as distinct from hiring “wants.” By focusing on the areas that are most critical, goals can be prioritised accordingly.

When setting further goals beyond addressing immediate needs, there are various elements to build in. This will ensure that the goals developed are fit for purpose. One is reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the year’s recruitment strategy to take these into account. It stands to reason that to be effective at recruitment requires an understanding of what is and is not working and recruitment goals should reflect this. Drawing on analytics and tracking of recruitment approaches is an important input to this process.

Another is ensuring that a solid roadmap is devised for hiring priorities and to create opportunities for measurable improvement in recruitment strategies. Be sure to clarify the recruitment budget and tie this to recruitment KPIs for the upcoming period. From there, recruitment advertising and programmatic advertising can be effectively planned to meet priorities.

A holistic approach to recruitment goal planning ensures a better return on investment (ROI) can be achieved through an improved recruitment strategy and focus. Areas to consider include the extent to which the company takes an omnichannel approach or if this might be improved. Looking at the effectiveness of social media profiles and presence is also highly relevant, as is considering recruitment partners, vendors, and the potential for scalability. For example, some of the processes might be better automated.

recruitment goals


4. Take Action

Key steps to consider are reviewing current job openings for each role to make certain content is up-to-date. It should reflect the current employer brand and employee value proposition. Also, companies should ensure that the language used is appropriate to attract candidates in the current market, demonstrating the opportunities and why they should choose this organisation above others that are also looking. Up-to-date and relevant content will be more engaging for candidates potentially seeking roles at the company. Where information is limited or not engaging, candidates may not seek more information – or may turn elsewhere for new roles.

Another area to review is employer profiles on different sites. For example, the company may have a profile on commonly used sites such as Glassdoor and Comparably. Leaving the same old material there for years is not engaging, and the information may become stale after a while. Newer content is likely to build interest among candidates in the company. If there is little engagement with the company on such sites, this could deter a candidate from seeking more information about open roles or applying at all. 


Activating Employee Ambassadors

Drawing on extended networks can also deliver a tremendous advantage in finding potential candidates. To achieve this, don’t forget that employees can serve as superb ambassadors for the organisation. Employee ambassadors are a conduit through which connections can be made with like-minded people. Research shows that employee networks are ten times greater than the employer’s own network, so employee ambassadors can help raise awareness with and convert a much more sizeable range of candidates than the employer alone can.

Identifying potential employee ambassadors and briefing them to engage a wider audience can make a huge difference. Doing so can help attract passive talent, e.g., those who may not necessarily be actively seeking a new role. Combining this with a revamped employee referral system has the potential to drive employee motivation to find suitable candidates too.


5. Showcase the Employer Brand

Never has employer branding been more crucial. Research shows that reductions of 50% in the cost-per-hire can be achieved with a strong employer brand. Authenticity is king. The employer brand should genuinely reflect the company’s values so prospective candidates can assess whether this will be a suitable opportunity for them. Inauthenticity in the employer brand and values will lead to inconsistencies, which hired talent will very quickly pinpoint when they are onboarded. Consider what the organisation genuinely offers and why this may attract and retain candidates. Developing a unique value proposition can help authentically develop the employer brand.

Brand messaging needs to reflect the evolving needs of candidates. For example, consider the extent to which flexible working can be offered. The importance of this is clear, given that more than a third of UK workers do not wish to return to the office full-time. What else does top talent in the sector demand? For example, sustainability may be critical, or diversity and inclusion integral to attracting younger talent. Researching and presenting the employer brand in a compelling and authentic manner will drive greater success.

Developing a future-proofed and flexible workforce is not out of reach with the right tools and strategies in place. Get in touch with Recruitics for insight and support in this process. As industry experts, we are poised to assist.

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