In a mature economy with an ageing population and amid rapidly-changing technology, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to find the skilled staff that they need.
This makes it a buyers’ market for job seekers and the evidence for this has been mounting particularly in sectors such as construction, engineering, manufacturing and IT where wages are rising significantly above inflation.
In December a report from Barclays showed that only 6% of people aged between 16 and 23 wanted to work in manufacturing and official figures have also shown that workers are switching jobs in record numbers.
A BCC (British Chambers of Commerce) report based on a survey of 6000 businesses in January revealed that four fifths of employers in manufacturing reported difficulties in finding the right workers and in the services sector, which makes up nearly 80% of the economy, seven in 10 said they had struggled to recruit.
Persuading valuable staff to stay with your business
At the moment UK employment is at its highest level ever and depending on proposed Government changes to immigration rules, it may become more costly, and difficult, to recruit from overseas.
Projections for 2019 suggest that businesses will have to increase rewards and perks to secure and retain valuable staff and will have to become more ethical. Alternative work conditions, such as remote working may also be on the rise.
What do workers value?
First and foremost, they want to feel valued and respected and to be involved in the progress of the business for which they are working.
While adequate remuneration is a part of this, so, too is the possibility of progressing within the business so listening to their ideas is key as is offering training, particularly if parts of the business process can be automated. The introduction of AI should not be seen as a threat but can be used as an opportunity to offer upskilling to at least some of those who may be affected.
There has also been a lot of emphasis on the disparity between women’s pay when compared with men’s and the pressure to show female employees that they are an equally valuable part of the team with the same prospects and opportunities is becoming increasingly important.
Employee wellbeing, too, is moving up the agenda. 38% of workers say they have suffered from work-related stress. While pressure can be a positive motivator for improving productivity, when it becomes stress it can lead to mental health problems.
A clearly laid-out set of policies on mental and physical health should be a part of every employee handbook and should be acted upon if the need arises.
Being part of an ethical company that is not afraid to publicise the fact can also be important.
Businesses can benefit from being more innovative in the way they support and reward staff and should look beyond their current policies for ideas.
This more than simply paying high wages, it is your actions and behaviour as a manager and leader that are also key for staff when considering if they should stay.
There are a number of quotes about valuing staff, I like this one by Richard Branson: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”