D-BRIEF – Employment & Pensions Blog: Recruitment Difficulties

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show in October 2021, job vacancies were at 1.17 million. This is almost 400,000 higher than before the pandemic. The research also found that almost half of employers (46%) are finding recruitment difficult and anticipate the situation declining further over the next six months.


Labour shortages were most widespread in hospitality, followed by water utilities, healthcare and construction. It was thought that a rise in redundancies after the furlough scheme ended would make it easier to fill the high number of vacancies. Yet while redundancies rose slightly in the three months to September, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, close to its pre-pandemic level.

Attracting and retaining staff

Employers should consider what they can offer prospective and current employees and what can help set them apart from other competitors.

Recruitment processes should be managed carefully and when an offer is accepted, extra effort could be taken to welcome the individual to the business prior to them starting which may help to mitigate any counter offers.

Flexibility and hybrid working is an attractive way of working for prospective employees and since the pandemic, prospective employees may well be looking for flexible working options from employers. Employers may therefore want to be clear on their approach to flexible, hybrid or remote working in job adverts and during interview processes.

Environmental awareness and social responsibility are also becoming increasingly important topics for candidates and employees. Employers that engage with these issues and make a conscious effort to find more sustainable ways of working, and introduce value driven policies, may find this attracts/retains staff who are looking to work somewhere with a culture that aligns with their beliefs.   Please see our recent article on Employment and Climate Change for further information.

Training and development is a good way for employers to upskill their existing employees. It could also enable businesses to recruit individuals who are a good culture fit but lack the necessary skills.

Salary and benefits are a useful way to stand out against competitors. Around 38 percent of firms said they restricted raising wages to the hard-to-fill roles only, but more than 60 percent of employers said they have extended higher wages to other staff. For employers who cannot afford to offer higher salaries, they could consider reviewing and potentially expanding their benefits package, for example to include additional health insurance, enhanced family leave and pay or higher pension contributions. In addition, benefits focussed on health and wellbeing following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as wellness programmes, gym memberships, and/or extra days off to support mental health could be an attractive offering.

For more information on attracting and retaining staff please contact a member of the Employment Team.

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