Recruiting, retaining and rewarding a post-Brexit workforce

With a third of employers reporting concerns about their ability to retain EU nationals, IRN’s Brexit HR forum explored approaches to avoiding skills gaps.

Image of construction worker surveying the scene
Leading the discussion, Ruth Munday, corporate director for Hays Talent Solutions in EMEA, joined Kate Shoesmith, head of engagement at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), to talk talent, trends and tips.During the conversation between the two recruiter representatives and the delegates, Kate Shoesmith referred to REC benchmarking research, which showed how employer confidence had dropped 20% since June 2016.Just as arresting was the 40% figure for employers who said that if they were to secure new contracts, they would not have the capacity to fulfil it. Construction, engineering, technology, health and social care are among the sectors most affected.

Key skills challenges

On the recruiters’ side, “it is getting harder and harder to find people to fill the jobs available,” Ms Shoesmith remarked.The REC’s latest data shows demand for staff reached a 21-month peak in May. Permanent candidate availability also experienced its sharpest drop since August 2015.On the upside for job-hunters, especially people at the start of their careers, these trends have filtered into significant increases in starting salaries in what is now a “candidate-led” market, observed Ms Shoesmith.
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Recruitment and retention

Among the audience – able to participate fully in all the panel sessions, asking questions throughout and joining polls via their mobile devices – 35% reported that their biggest difficulty was recruiting skilled employees. For 31%, their ability to retain EU nationals was at issue.“How we train our existing and upcoming workforce is absolutely crucial to addressing these challenges,” said Ms Shoesmith.

Relocation and expansion on the agenda for many companies

Delegates reported they are responding to the challenge by bringing in external advisers (39%) or assessing expansion into new territories (36%).Correlating this finding, Ruth Munday commented from her experience that “there is a significant number of companies looking for labour market data on new territories,” including Poland or Germany.Kate Shoesmith agreed, saying companies looking to grow in new markets was the RECs’ experience too, with “companies trying to shore themselves up for the future.”

A change in tactics?

For companies seeking advice on how to retain their EU nationals, honesty is vital, commented Ruth Munday. “There is no magic tool, but for me, this is about taking a step back and looking at how you portray yourself as an employer to EU nationals.”This is includes an awareness of how the UK is being portrayed on EU media channels as Brexit negotiations continue and the pressure individuals might be facing from their families in their home countries to return.Summing up the session, Kate Shoesmith commented how united businesses are in the Brexit debate towards aiming for consistency and continuity, rather than a knee-jerk reaction. “This is a very clear ask of government.”

Look out for more Brexit planning news and features in the upcoming Autumn 2017 issue of Relocate Global magazine. Reserve your copy here.

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