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FEATURE


EXECUTIVE SEARCH & RECRUITMENT Recruiting


in a pandemic The best time to tout for talent


The coronavirus pandemic has put many business plans on hold and seen thousands of careers that were progressing rapidly slow to a crawl. However, these two factors make it an ideal time for businesses to steal a march on competitors and to capture some fantastic talent – if only they can invest, argues Chris Willsher (pictured), Midlands senior regional director at recruitment firm REED.


T


he latest stats from a REED survey of 2,000 people show 28% of employed people in the East Midlands are now looking to move jobs, in comparison to 19% before the first lockdown. This is despite the economic uncertainty and the


high levels of unemployment in the UK. But what is driving this increase in a desire to move? And


how can employers respond? The key lies in the way that employees are being appreciated and receiving training to demonstrate progress in their career. In the East Midlands, we have found that employees in the region feel the most undervalued in the country, with 49% not feeling valued. Coupled with unhappiness with how their company behaved during the pandemic (38% of workers), this is making a significant proportion of people look for a new job.


WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO? From these findings, it is clear businesses need to show appreciation without fiscal incentive and progression in a climate in which budgets are being cut. With more than 36% of people in the region undertaking


training, this is just one way to show appreciation. In the past six months, the most likely training was in wellbeing care (29%), digital skills (25%) and company policy skills (25%) – a key indicator that modernisation and the mental health of employees is on the agenda of many businesses. In fact, wellbeing will be a key part of attracting talent. If


companies can show mental health support and appreciation of employee work, it will make them more attractive. Given that gaining a better work-life balance was a reason for 30% of people wanting to move in the East Midlands – and this was part of 38% of people re- evaluating their priorities – a demonstration of wellbeing will be key to a good recruitment strategy. In terms of delivering on progression without pay rises


and title changes, emphasising training as a commitment could be vital. We have already seen that digital skills have been widely taught in the past six months. Those that desire progression will not want to fall behind, so offering structured plans for improvement to prepare for the future will be a way to demonstrate commitment to continued development of individuals.


WHAT EMPLOYERS WANT But it is not just about employers attracting candidates. It must go both ways. Separate REED research found that prior to lockdown,


businesses were most likely to look for teamwork and leadership skills (61%) and communication skills (52%) – ahead of financial skills (40%), grasp of technology (33%), and ability to work alone (32%).


76 business network December 2020/January 2021


‘A demonstration of wellbeing will be key to a good recruitment strategy’


In a locked-down world, teamwork and leadership (58%)


and communication (49%) are still important, but businesses are significantly more likely to seek the ability to work alone (44%) as more people work from home. Our research also tells us that 36% see growing their organisation a priority, and 33% see business transformation as a leading strategy in the current climate. It is vital that individuals seek to upskill or reskill in these


areas to give themselves a better chance of attracting employers. But for employers, this demonstrates there is a need to compete in the market. This is a time they can ill- afford to lose talented workers to rivals and may need to bolster their numbers with different skills to those they were seeking before lockdown so they can come out of this pandemic transformed to the climate and stronger as a result.


Teamwork, leadership and communication remain important personal skills for employers, particularly during the pandemic


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