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Talent on the front line in the recruitment war


In the recruitment war, investing in both an already-committed workforce and fresh new talent can be a tough juggling act. However, with skills gaps widening and competition for great employees rising, it is a juggling act that firms must learn, according to a new study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Craig Peters, head of PR at Together Communications, takes a look at the slings and arrows that are used in modern recruitment battles.

The recruitment war is on. According to the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, organisations are experiencing both escalating skills shortages and increased competition for talent, with three in four organisations (78%) reporting recruitment difficulties in the last year. The report also showed that many organisations are looking externally to meet the changing skills needed in-house.

The survey of 520 UK-based HR professionals, which examines resourcing and talent planning strategies across private, public and voluntary sector organisations, found that while nearly half (45%) of respondents are making efforts to develop more talent in-house, almost three-quarters (74%) continue to recruit externally for key talent and niche areas.

As Jessica Cooper, Research Adviser at the CIPD says, “In the ‘make or buy’ debate, the ‘buy’ decision still seems to predominate investment in talent”. Development is the key word, if we are to ever fill the glaring skills gap. A lack of availability of key skills is a genuine threat to an organisation’s growth prospects which, in turn, obviously impacts the greater good of the UK economy.

Retaining and Training

The more money that is spent on training, the better. Take tourism for example. This is one of our most important earners of foreign currency, with the UK being the fourth most visited country in the world. Tourists spend their money in our bars, restaurants, hotels and shops.

For far too long we, as a nation, have ignored, or at least not appreciated the true value of this industry to our overall economy.  Never forget that hospitality and retail between them make up 20% of the UK work force. It employs everyone from professional managers and high skilled IT people through to junior low skilled inexperienced workers. Growth in these industries will do wonders for getting people off benefits and into productive work.

Employers must start to see the value in nurturing your own talent, particularly when times are uncertain. This will unearth much-needed skills and agility.

Training and development can become critical in ensuring that valued members of staff remain contented. In today’s increasingly challenging business world, companies across all industries and sectors have a choice of recruiting or nurturing their own talent.

The latter, whilst perhaps more complex, will bring rewards in abundance to the individual and the business. I suspect many businesses have gaps in skills and expertise that need to be filled and managing this in-house eliminates the need for new personnel.

Throughout the most recent recession, the focus for many companies was on keeping their operations afloat, and some would argue rightly so. Investment in training and people, and succession planning became a relatively low priority. As a result, amid strong economic growth and surging business confidence, recruiting the right professionals has become increasingly complex and competitive. Shortages of suitably qualified candidates and rising vacancy levels are also increasing the pressure on employers to ensure the company retains its existing employees.

The impact of talent shortages on businesses

An organisation can only possibly implement a growth strategy which is built around the professionals they are able to hire. If they can’t find the right candidates with suitable skills, as is being reported, then it simply won’t work.

Talent shortages can impact the morale of current employees within a business, which can obviously have a detrimental effect on staff performance and productivity which, in turn, impacts the bottom line of the organisation. The influence of low morale is underestimated for creating a high level of staff turnover, which in turn can go a long way towards dragging a company’s recruitment brand through the mud and impacting its reputation, thus making it harder to recruit.

Some companies have demonstrated that they are able to plug gaps by reallocating staff or giving them extra work. However, an overstretched workforce is a recipe for employee discontent. Many will also expect to be paid a higher salary, increasing the cost to the business.
To counter this, employers should take steps to increase the appeal of working for their organisation. This could be done by offering greater independence and responsibility, flexible working or clear paths for career progression.


Businesses cannot afford to not plan for the impact of talent shortages. By planning and preparing, this will help them identify where gaps may emerge and enable them to formulate a long-term talent management strategy.
This will also empower them to phase in new working arrangements, such as flexible hours, while minimising any adverse effects on the employees within the business.

Crucially, if a business is struggling to find candidates with suitable skills then they should consider widening the search. While many of these professionals won’t tick all the boxes straight away, the right combination of in-house training and motivation will help them make the step up. As an added bonus, these employees will then demonstrate more loyalty and enhanced performance levels.