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Facing up to the future of talent 

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Dealing with "The Great Resignation" is one thing – but now talent seems to be holding all the aces when it comes to the recruitment process. As agencies recover from the pandemic and work starts to roll in, teams must grow, but hiring has never been harder. 

The new war for talent

The Great Resignation began in early 2021 following the ease of lockdown measures. For many it felt like an appropriate time for a fresh start, from moving house to moving jobs.  

Businesses that survived 2020 made it through some of their toughest challenges to date. Most entered 2021 in a confident and more secure position as new roles skyrocketed. Businesses were not only looking to recruit but to fill backdated growth plans exponentially. And here we are, about to go into 2022 and the power balance hasn’t changed.  

To put it plainly, today’s limited talent pool want it all. The good salary, the freedom to decide when they’ll work from home or the office and all the benefits that come from a balanced work-home lifestyle, with zero commute into the office. This has left employers in an uncertain situation.

The problem (of the uncertainty of the length of the pandemic) has grown and so have the demands. It’s been creeping over the past 6 months from having to pay slightly more than the market rate, to now overpaying and accepting that your employees will work remotely.  

Trends and challenges of the agency recruitment process

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Combining open vacancies, catching up on delayed growth plans and replacing leavers has thrown the job market into serious flux. We’re seeing heavily inflated salary offerings to compete and secure hires. On top of this, companies are changing their entire workflow structure and closing offices to better operate remotely all in the name of satisfying employee requests for flexibility.  

Switching to remote working not only causes structural questions, but also salary rates. In general, location has always been a determining factor. But with people now working remotely, there is a big question mark around rates of pay.

A London pay packet based out of the city? Maybe that’s a good thing given the wage stagnation that Britain has experienced in the past decade. But if remote working stays, I think salaries will even out in line with cost of living. However, given the current demand for talent, I wouldn’t see that happening for a couple of years and ultimately, remote working, in my opinion, won’t stick around that long. 

Agencies need to take stock and hop back into the driver’s seat. Making sure you have a firm grip on what they’re looking for and most importantly, evaluate the team you already have and make sure they are being maximised before looking for anyone new. Don’t overpay in excess, you’re feeding the cycle and putting jobs at risk.

Communicate with your team that the recruitment lead time is longer now. Manage their expectations of when help will be coming but emphasise the help that does come is of better value than before. It will be a bumpy ride but accommodating every single change won’t be of benefit. Stick to your core values and ensure every hire you make is one that you can keep.

The dos and don'ts 

The need for delivery - hire people who genuinely find that attractive and fun. Who are they? Entry level talent. They’re eager to learn and eager to impress and they’re in abundance. 

Partner with recruitment agencies that specialise in targeting underrepresented talent and stop just using LinkedIn for job posts. Instead, target niche Facebook groups, more accessible job platforms and make sure you talk about what you do. 

Hire people based on their qualities over experience. The right attitude/approach to work goes a long way. You can always train them to deliver what you need.  

When push comes to shove make sure you can call on a solid team of freelancers for a short period. It’s make or break at this point. Though freelancers are more expensive over a long period of time and negotiating fees is inevitable it can help fill a temporary gap. However, we have seen the greatest revenue value with a fully resourced (employed) team.

Ensure your employees stay happy and stay put

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Consider organising a Town hall. Quarterly company updates on finance, clients, team with an open Q&A with the founder at the end. Give the team the option to ask questions live or be submitted anonymously. People like having direct access to the boss at times, no matter if you implement a hierarchy or not. 

Secondly, regular employee engagement surveys help measure satisfaction and open call for suggested initiatives/solutions. 

Another thing that works well at Wilderness is a team of Excellence Ambassadors. They are there to keep the culture a part of the team and built by the team. The team reps, meet monthly, discuss challenges, provide feedback and solutions then given. The team feel like they have influence over company changes and can make an impact. 

For the SLT any change that is made needs to be communicated properly and is so often where agencies fall down. When you communicate a change, tell them why it was made. For example, feedback given in the latest employee engagement survey called for more WFH days, so we’re now going to work from home 3 days a week instead of 2. 

What does the future hold?

Salary inflation will come back down to regular market value but the pace and demand for finding and securing talent will remain in 2022. The market will remain highly competitive, but I think candidates will move more for passion and job satisfaction than money.  

Over a short timeframe, agency recruitment has become a candidates’ market, with top talent taking their time to choose a role, and demanding the best pay and conditions to suit them. With smart strategies led by operations teams in place agencies can develop ways to reshape recruitment and retention processes and find a balance that gets the best out of individual employees for the benefit of both parties. 

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By Tilly Morgan, Operations & People Director, at Wilderness

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