The latest research by IRS Employment Review confirms that the war for
talent is still very much at the top of the agenda for HR practitioners (News,
page 1). Despite months of high-profile redundancies and the decline in the
number of job vacancies in many professions and industry sectors,
three-quarters of HR people place recruitment at the top of their list of
Skills shortages can be blamed on factors such as demographic trends or the
pace of technological change, but the reality is that UK employers have failed
to take recruitment and retention seriously. Far too often, employers turn to
short-term solutions such as hiking up pay for vacancies when skills are in
short supply – they should be concentrating on fundamentals.
As the Work Foundation has recently pointed out in its Working Capital
report, the UK workforce is still blighted by poor skills and low morale and
this is not likely to increase employee loyalty or motivation.
There is a broad consensus among HR thinkers that employers can resolve
their problems in recruitment and retention by focusing on the employer brand.
Unfortunately, promoting an attractive and unique corporate brand will only
work if it goes beyond making the company website more appealing to the target
group or refurbishing your offices in a funky new style. The employer brand has
to be intrinsic to every process in the organisation. It has to be reflected in
how the company invests in the capability of staff and it has to be at the
heart of how employees relate to each other.
HR professionals can use the huge costs of the recruitment crisis to their
organisations as leverage to get the ear of the board. Then they need to set
about persuading the organisation’s leaders that the phrase ‘people represent
the only source of competitive advantage’ is more than just the latest HR
By Noel O’Reilly