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ONS labour market data: “employers competing like crazy for candidates”, say recruiters

In this blog for IFA Magazine, 5 recruitment and HR professionals comment on the ONS Labour market data published this morning:

Louise Burns, director of Tyne and Wear-based Nineteen Recruitment: “It’s a bittersweet time for recruiters. We are rejoicing at the number of job opportunities while wailing at our desks over the lack of candidates. Employers are competing like crazy for 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 company, Cottrell Moore: “The UK jobs market is currently walking a tightrope. 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 absurd 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 headwinds to continue on its current trajectory.”

Sarah Loates of Derby-based Loates HR Consultancy“Demand among employers for staff is is obscenely high while supply is exceptionally low, due to low unemployment, low redundancies and simply less people in the labour market due to early exit retirements and Brexit. This means that, for employers, retention is critical. And they are achieving this by raising wages, providing one-off rewards and offering existing staff increased job flexibility and additional training. More enlightened employers are shifting their focus to employee wellbeing, even conducting ‘stay interviews’, the antithesis of exit interviews. For many employers however, retention could be a pyrrhic victory, leading to spiralling inflation, with the Bank of England estimating 7.25% by April 2022. My advice for employers is access untapped areas of the labour market. For example, the over fifties are finding it especially hard to gain employment so tap into that demographic. Also, always ensure you put flexibility front and centre of the advert, as employees now demand and expect it.”

Julia Kermode, founder at Nantwich-based IWork: “Candidates are definitely calling the shots at the moment. The combination of inflation driving more firms to pledge pay rises for their staff, coupled with increasing numbers of job vacancies, means potential job seekers have very high earnings expectations. It’s incredibly competitive, and small firms in particular are finding it almost impossible to entice the best talent to join them. However, people want to work with businesses whose ethics and values they agree with, so these firms need to be creative in how they value, support and nurture their staff.”

Jessica Ross, CEO at Smashtag Social: “Companies are behaving like there’s not enough talent available, which is absolute nonsense. The talent is there, the problem is that their job adverts are boring, they take too long to make decisions or their corporate culture just isn’t appealing enough.”

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