It has long been a source of headlines that UK PLC will soon be facing its biggest workforce challenge yet, as people are generally living longer. Based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people aged over 60 in the UK keeps rising and is expected to have increased by 13% between 2013 and 2020.
Added to this, the new pensions freedoms mean more and more people are coming up to retirement age earlier and planning to leave the workforce, whilst the number of those entering the workforce is simply not keeping pace.
This brings a variety of challenges which affect the whole employment landscape from start to finish. In 2016, some of the demands employers will face include:
- How to source and win the best talent in a candidate led market place;
- How best to communicate with and engage a multi-generational workforce;
- How to ensure business continuity in a changing landscape;
- How to ensure employees are properly informed about their pensions choices and the impacts of those decisions;
- How to keep the skills of those employees who may be considering exploring the joys of pension freedom.
For many organisations the first stage will be to understand the changing landscape and what this may mean for their business and messaging approach. The current candidate led market place has already pushed many employers to re-think their recruitment and selection practices. Some of the key changes we are seeing are:
1. Looking outside of the usual market
Many employers are looking outside of their usual market places in an effort to beat skills shortages. This means a greater focus on more general abilities, rather than specific skills. It means there is more of a focus on recruiting for ability and training for skills and requires a greater long-term emphasis on the individuals brought in to an organisation. It also means candidates may need greater persuasion to make a shift out of their comfort zone, especially if they are considering what could be their final career move.
2. Focus on a good quality candidate experience
Good candidates – especially those considering a move outside of their comfort zone - will take in to account the overall experience they have had of dealing with the hiring companies and will often have the luxury of choice in respect of job offers. For employers this means ensuring the whole candidate experience is at the forefront of their approach – even those candidates who aren’t ultimately successful. It’s not as easy as being nice to people though - it means demonstrating integrity between recruitment practices and business approach, and not trying to be ‘all things to all men’. It also means recognising the necessity of different communications approaches for different generations to ensure they are able to feel comfortable engaging with your recruitment approach.
3. Employer brand
Whilst branding for products and businesses is widely recognised as a business asset, not all organisations have yet caught on to the importance of their employer brand. However, knowing and promoting your employer brand becomes all the more important when you are trying to pull candidates from outside of your usual market, and is a key part of driving the right candidate experience. It provides a focus for the integrity between the ‘sales pitch’ to the candidates and the ‘real life’ experience of working for your organisation.
4. Selling jobs, rather than buying labour
Bringing all of the above aspects together can result in the need for a fundamental cultural shift for hiring managers and their organisations. In order to successfully manage and drive this change, the approach needs to be one of selling jobs to a discerning and diverse clientele of candidates, rather than buying in labour to get a job done. Once you are able to re-define your approach to accommodate this shift, you will be a long way towards addressing one of the key challenges facing UK organisations in the light of the ageing workforce dilemma.
The role for good HR in all of this is self-evident, but in most organisations the HR Team will be at capacity with the ‘business as usual’ activity, and will lack the bandwidth to master these kinds of challenges effectively. Selecting an expert partner to work with the organisation can make the difference between success and mediocrity, as they will not only understand the challenges discussed, but will add value to and help drive the changes required.
The right specialist recruitment partner will have strong contacts not just in your market place, but in those which are aligned with it. They will live and breathe the candidate experience both on your behalf and the candidate’s. They will actively protect and promote both your brand and the candidate’s, ensuring the two have synergy and will make a successful match. Finally, they will understand that selling your job to the right ‘buyer’ is a positive approach and will go a long way to a successful relationship.
Make 2016 the year to proactively address the ageing workforce issues which are inevitably heading your way, by selecting the right specialist recruitment partner to help pave the way to success.