Q2 Review: Analysing The Recruitment Landscape

Large corporate companies are facing challenges attracting new talent and retaining skilled staff especially when their salary structures, work flexibility and staff benefits are outdated compared to smaller, more agile SMEs. Smaller companies can have the advantage of being able to offer more flexibility and quicker decision-making, meaning they’re a more appealing option for certain candidates. This is particularly true of the metal and engineering sectors, where I’m seeing an increase in SMEs attracting the best talent from both inside and outside of the industry. Larger companies in other sectors are also struggling to attract their own industry professionals, indicating a broader issue in talent acquisition.

I’ve seen salaries increasing since Comton Group was founded in 2019 as a result of global factors including Brexit, war, and the subsequent cost of living crisis. These increases are markedly greater than those seen in the preceding 5-year period, meaning salary expectation is high on the list for candidates.

In Q1 I was talking to industry professionals about this topic and, as a result, created and shared a salary benchmark which I shared with interested companies. One company had recently lost a member of staff to a competitor and were surprised to see how much higher the benchmarked salaries were compared with theirs. They subsequently realigned their own pay structure which was appreciated by the existing team. Valuing and therefore retaining current staff is as important as the recruitment of new staff.

Offering a competitive salary is a crucial part of staff retention and the attraction of new talent, but in a job market that favours the employee, it is not the only thing sought by staff who may be reevaluating their options. Factors such as work-life balance, a positive and progressive company culture, opportunities for personal growth and development, benefits, and perks such as private health care can also play a significant role in a candidate’s decisions when considering career opportunities.

In light of these challenges larger companies need to reassess their salary packages, improve work flexibility, and enhance other aspects of their employee value propositions to remain competitive. By adapting to the changing expectations and needs of potential employees, companies will better position themselves to attract and retain top talent.

It’s not just our sector that is being impacted by difficulties in attracting good quality staff. Drivers, welders, fabricators – we’re not seeing the next generation of semi-skilled workers coming through. An older workforce brings multiple benefits, however it’s vital that new, younger people continue to refresh the sector to bring new ideas and opportunities.

As companies navigate the changing employment landscape, hiring apprentices or graduates could be an effective approach to address skills shortages. Doing this effectively requires training and development programmes to be in place to enable staff to become valuable assets for a company over the long term.    

A carefully planned onboarding process is crucial to smooth integration into the company’s culture and the work environment, both for staff with experience in the sector and for those entering the workforce for the first time. New employees should of course be provided with the knowledge and resources to begin their role with confidence. It is equally if not more important that they be assigned a skilled training buddy or mentor who shares the company’s vision and is invested in its values.By proactively adapting to the changing recruitment market and talent pool, and by continuing to foster a positive and engaging working environment, larger corporations can remain a competitive option against more nimble SMEs. You can position your company as a desirable destination for new candidates, whilst at the same time retaining skilled, talented staff. Investing in this area will ensure a strong talent pipeline for future recruitment whilst at the same time fostering a strong, motivated workforce who will support your ambitions for your company.

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