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Financial restraints and risk avoidance are putting the recruitment market at risk says specialist agency Balance Recruitment, unless employers make their staff engagement strategy a priority this year.

A recent industry roundtable held by Balance Recruitment, a specialist accountancy recruitment consultancy, found that attracting, engaging and retaining staff will be one of the biggest challenges facing employers in 2013.

The roundtable was attended by a number of senior leads in HR and procurement including representatives from Bloomberg, Nowtel Group, Struq and the University of London, discussed topical issues and specialist HR practices. Participants identifed that workforce disengagement is becoming an increasing issue for many companies who do not have the traditional means to reward current staff and attract new members. 

As a result, HR practitioners need to revisit their engagement strategy to ensure a strong contingent workforce is developed and sustained. With recruitment budgets being squeezed even tighter, firms are being forced to consider invisible benefits - from flexible working and car allowances, to flu jabs and yoga classes - to engage their existing workforce and attract new members.

The roundtable findings highlight a real danger of market stagnation as employees seek the protection and rights of longer-term employment and perceive the uncertainty of making a move as & lsquo;too much of a risk’.  Sourcing candidates has become a greater challenge as recruiters have to negotiate issues of uncertainty and the belief that people are & lsquo;better off where they are’.

Tony Vickers, Director of Balance Recruitment, says: “Employers exist in a world post recession, post administration and post budget cuts. One of the biggest challenges facing HR practitioners for 2013 is the need to have a proactive and fully engaging recruitment strategy in an economic climate that often requires a reactive response. It’s a difficult balance. How can companies attract staff in a tough market yet be fair to the team you have already? Using a well informed and knowledgeable recruitment partner effectively will help ensure sustainable workforce solutions are targeted and secured for your business.”

Shelley Williams, Programme Lead, Global Contingent Workforce at Bloomberg who attended the roundtable says: “Businesses need to look at their employee engagement strategy, not just in terms of financial remuneration and employee benefits, but also workforce planning. This includes considering the balance of permanent and contingent employees and the flexibility and benefits of various offers. For businesses to be effective in the coming years they need to consider their workforce structure, processes and benefits as a whole to create an attractive and effective engagement strategy.”

The roundtable highlighted that engaging and attracting staff is a pressing concern for SMEs and start-ups.

Vickers continues: “As we are faced with an economy that encourages more start ups that ever before, smaller firms are simply unable to compete with larger organisations in respect of both salary and benefits. For smaller companies, regardless of their growth potential, it’s hard to proposition your employee offer against the gravitas of larger organisations. Financial offers that may make SMEs and start-ups gasp, could be easily countered by multi-national brands.

“We continue to develop a benefit-driven employment market where invisible benefits such as flexible working are becoming the norm ahead of formal legislation. Firms are already adapting to the changing needs of the UK workforce, however smaller companies and start ups are having to devise engagement strategies that go beyond cold hard finances in order to compete with the blue chips".


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