Senior HR professionals have warned that the acute shortage of suitable employment candidates is damaging output and productivity.
More than four in five employers said there were either few suitable applicants for vacancies (68%), or no candidates available at all (13%). Only 12% of employers were not currently experiencing any recruitment challenges.
More than a third (36%) of employer respondents told Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing researchers that they expected a vacant position to remain unfilled for between three and six months, with one in every 10 experiencing wait times of up to nine months.
The 160 senior HR practitioners, representing thousands of workers in the UK and beyond, said the effects of the delays in appointments were exacerbated by the time it took a new joiner to achieve their optimum level of output in a new job role.
Fewer than one in every 10 (7%) employers expect a new employee to reach their peak output in the first three months of employment, with another 56% of respondents suggesting that it may take between six and 12 months for that level to be achieved. And a small number of respondents (2%) expected that maximum output would not be delivered until a year or more in post.
Head of benefits strategy at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, Steve Herbert, said the length of time needed to appoint staff coupled with the long settling-in period was a “double whammy” that severely impacted productivity. He added: “ And at any point in this process the employee might leave, placing the employer back at the start of the recruitment cycle once again.”
He suggested that retaining existing talent should be a key focus for employers in 2022. Howden’s survey, however, revealed that fewer than one in four employers (22%) were currently looking to implement any form of staff retention drive.
“A retention drive should be a high priority for many more businesses this year,” said Herbert. “The focus of the exercise should be to highlight the uncertainties of leaving for a new job elsewhere, while also strongly reminding employees of the benefits of continuing in their current employment.
“In particular we would encourage employers to really promote those important – but so often overlooked or poorly communicated – employee benefits offerings.”
Howden suggested that employer-funded benefits such as group life assurance, group income protection, and group private medical insurance were now even more important in light of the Covid pandemic and may help valued employees decide to stay at a company if benefits weren’t at such good levels elsewhere.