It’s the return of the breakfast round table discussions; where we invite industry leaders to share their experiences amongst peers. Last time, we focused on tackling staff turnover – which proved to be a hot topic amongst attendees due to the highest ever recorded levels of employment in the UK. This time, we focused on how shallow talent pools are affecting business operations from; setting standards, getting flexible and training and development.

Shallow talent pools – how to do more than stay afloat

Attracting the best people into your business is becoming increasingly tough. Talent pools are shrinking, meaning more competition for skilled staff according to 70 percent of business leaders surveyed by the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

To compound the issue, National Statistics UK tells us that 2018 saw seven per cent fewer EU national workers join the UK. The result? A market where everyone is chasing the same talent.

So, how are these challenges impacting businesses and what can you do to overcome them? We invited leaders from the leisure, hospitality and marketing sectors to share their insights at our latest breakfast roundtable at London’s Sky Garden.

Setting standards

The message that came through loud and clear throughout the discussion was that it’s increasingly difficult to find people with the right skills. There is agreement that the quality of applicants has decreased over the last year. With roles to fill, many businesses are concerned that they may need to lower their standards when it comes to hiring.

In an attempt to buck this trend and find the right talent, businesses are switching up their approaches to recruitment. Some are utilising their employee network, offering commissions for referrals. However, this can fall short as many juniors do not have a wide enough contact base or are not open to retention-based referral fees that involve a three to six-month wait before they pay out.

Shallow talent pools are causing businesses to shake up their approach to hiring. “We look in unorthodox places like churches; places where the community are. We also use Facebook and have found some good quality candidates,” said Elijah Braik, Head of Recruitment and Training at Ronin International. Many are also finding success with smart on-demand job platforms, like ours, which match employers with talented staff, with the right skills, in the right area.

Getting flexible

Another core trend in recruitment is the growing demand for flexible working. In fact, 30 percent of companies are now hiring temporary labour across all job levels, according to the SIA Talent Study 2019. This is because employees aren’t just looking for a pay packet anymore, they are motivated by improving their quality of life. This means avoiding lengthy commutes and selecting lifestyle-appropriate working hours. It’s also worth noting that many workers are not looking for fast track promotions, instead wanting to avoid the pressure and stress that comes with increasing seniority.

This has a huge impact on hiring. “It’s hard to strike the right balance between offering people the flexibility but also covering all of the shifts with the highest of quality, so there is pressure to get people to work,” says Maureen Kaudha, Head of Operations at Casna Group.

Some organisations state that they need to hire double the volume of staff to enable flexibility but, with the shallow talent pool issue, sourcing quality people can be tough. Here again, many hospitality, leisure and office-based businesses are looking to platforms like Coople which are focused on making flexibility work for everyone. By providing access to talented staff who can work across a range of shifts we can alleviate many of the issues caused by the trend towards flexible working.

Training and retaining

Once a business has the right people in place, the next struggle is to retain staff. In our discussion, it became very clear that culture has a huge role to play here. Businesses need to make their people feel valued and empowered – this is the key to keeping them on-board. Tactics vary from perks and benefits to senior stakeholders investing time into staff visits. However, the crux of what needs to be achieved is creating a supportive culture where employees know that the business is invested in their happiness, wellbeing and development. As a company, we give staff what we call an ‘indulgent card’ for discounts on food, drink and hotel stays. We also work as a family unit to retrain our staff, creating a strong support network around them,” said Nicci Dodd, Fullers.

While there is no doubt that shallow talent pools present a major challenge for businesses, the good news is that there is plenty that can be done to alleviate the impact and find the right people to deliver great customer experiences. A lateral approach to hiring combined with offering people the chance to develop their skills, learn from new experiences and take on responsibility will be critical in holding on to the best talent. Businesses can’t afford to settle for second best; the people that work for them certainly won’t.