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Talent shortages hit productivity and staff morale among UK professionals

After several years of reduced investment in the training and development of professionals in the UK, 72% of businesses say they are affected by severe talent shortages, resulting in decreased productivity for nearly one in five firms (18%). A further 64% of employers say they are lacking candidates with the right technical knowledge.

The new research, by specialist recruiter Robert Walters, reveals that 43% of businesses are struggling to meet deadlines and client expectations as a result of these shortages, which in turn is taking its toll on staff morale. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers report that morale has reduced as unfilled vacancies heap pressure on existing staff.

While over half (56%) of employers have struggled to recruit for some roles, less than a third (32%) say that there is actually a lack of candidates in the market, suggesting the problem lies in the need for training and development programmes to get available candidates qualified and equipped with the right skills.

Chris Hickey, CEO of Robert Walters UK, commented, “It is evident that there is not an acute candidate shortage, but more a lack of people with the right skills and qualifications to serve businesses. After several years of under-investment in training and entry-level recruitment, businesses are now playing catch-up. Until their staffing requirements are met, employers must be particularly mindful of how the added pressure is impacting morale or risk more people leaving and exacerbating the problem.

“Obviously training is an essential solution, but employers also need to look outside the pool of active job seekers and consider & lsquo;passive’ candidates that aren’t currently hunting for a new job. There is talent out there, but it needs to be sought out. Employers also need to be more open minded about who they recruit, looking to individuals that have potential to acquire skills on the job.”

Appointing interim or contract staff is the most popular strategy for managing talent shortages. 41% of employers saying they are doing this, with only a quarter (23%) recruiting from new talent pools and just 10% looking for new staff internationally.

Employers are also changing workplace policies to deal with the problem, with 42% up-skilling staff and 25% seeking to fast-track career progression opportunities for current personnel. And when staff do look to leave, nearly two thirds of businesses (65%) say they use counter-offers to retain staff.

Hickey added, “The shortage is forcing employers to nurture they talent they have, and many are willing to fight hard to keep important individuals. Employers must react to what employees want and for many this will mean improved work-life balance, career progression and pay.

“To overcome staffing challenges in a talent-short market, hiring managers must couple staff retention programmes with a long-term recruitment strategies.”



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