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Experts comment on today’s ONS Labour market data: “Candidates want the moon on a stick”

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash.

Lauren Thomas, economist at Glassdoor:

“It is still very much a job seekers’ market. The continued tight labour market means it’s tough to hire talent, particularly for lower-paid employees who have seen some of the biggest gains in wages. The twin blows of the pandemic and Brexit have greatly reduced labour supply in face-to-face, low wage jobs such as retail, administrative and domestic work. Left with little other choice, employers have raised pay to attract the workforce they need. But sky-high inflation and the continued impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on direct supply chains and energy prices means that wages will struggle to keep up. In fact, real wage growth has been negative in the past few months as a direct result of this high inflation, and this is really hurting those at the lower end of the pay scale. Job seekers are prioritising flexibility, with mentions of hybrid work increasing by over 1000% in 2021 on Glassdoor. But not all employers have been successful in their attempts to create a more remote workplace. Our anonymous employee reviews indicate that workers are struggling with a lack of office culture, while onboarding in a remote environment is still problematic. To keep employees engaged, companies with in-person workforces should focus on ways to give employees control over their own schedules, while those in a remote environment need to work on creating a community feel while ensuring strong management and successful onboarding, both facets that often suffer with a transition away from face-to-face work.”

Sarah Loates of Derby-based Loates HR Consultancy:

“These days, candidates want the moon on a stick. Demand from employers remains obscenely high while supply is exceptionally low, so a humdrum job description posted randomly on a faceless job board just isn’t going to cut it. In the current market, recruiters have to put in some serious legwork and really ‘sell’ the role and the company, highlighting the unique employee value proposition. Put simply, why should candidates bring their talents to you? With this in mind, be prepared to be flexible but equally know when to say no if it will massively skew your internal consistency and team dynamic. If you can, always ensure you put flexibility front and centre, as this is rapidly becoming a deal-breaker for many candidates.”

Julia Kermode, founder at Nantwich-based IWork:

“Employers’ restrictive approaches to job creation are effectively precluding thousands of brilliantly talented people from applying for vacancies. Now that we are moving post-pandemic, companies are less inclined to offer flexible working, cutting out huge swathes of potential candidates such as those with caring responsibilities, disabled people, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, part-timers, and many more. It’s about time businesses recognised the value of attracting a diverse workforce as there are so many people who are willing and able to work, and who want to contribute to the economy, but don’t have the option to do so because far too many companies have legacy mindsets.”

Kieran Boyle, MD of Gloucester-based CKB Recruitment:

“We specialise in recruitment for the insurance and financial services sectors and have seen no let-up in the amount of new vacancies coming to market. There is still a huge skills gap in the labour market, so recruitment is showing no signs of slowing down. The fight for talent is being won by the companies who have embraced flexible working, as people now want this as a rule. The firms who have stuck to wanting everyone in the office five days a week are really starting to struggle to attract the best talent, not to mention retain it. Post-pandemic lifestyle changes have seen the amount of people already in a job looking elsewhere go through the roof. This is easily the most candidate-driven market we have ever experienced.”

Louise Burns, director of Tyne and Wear-based Nineteen Recruitment:

“It’s a bittersweet time for recruiters. We are thrilled at the number of job opportunities while lamenting the extreme lack of candidates. Employers are competing like crazy for the right candidates, driving salaries up into the stratosphere. With many businesses entering a potentially delicate period of post-pandemic recovery, this sort of situation is completely unsustainable.”

Sandra Wilson, director of Ipswich-based recruitment and HR firm, Cottrell Moore:

“Speak to most recruiters and they are loving how busy it is with the number of available jobs at a record high. However, employees are being counter-offered on a daily basis, which is pushing salaries in some sectors up to preposterous levels. The result is a situation that is simply unsustainable. The hope is that common sense will start to prevail and that people will realise that compromises need to be made rather than outright demands. The jobs market is too vulnerable and facing far too many economic and geopolitical headwinds to continue on its current trajectory.”

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