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The Talent Tug-of-War: Over half of UK employers struggle to land employees

- Over 50% of UK employers say it's never been more difficult to attract talent - Research reveals a red-hot recruitment battle and a new power shift, firmly in employees’ favour
The Talent Tug-of-War

Manchester, UK: 25 August 2022 – New research from SD Worx, European HR & payroll services provider, reveals an intensifying tug-of-war for talent as British companies rally to deliver on hardened employee expectations and land new team members.

Based on a survey of 4371 companies in the UK and across Europe, the findings highlight a red-hot recruitment battle and a new power shift in the job market, with the balance tipping firmly in favour of employees.

When it comes to attracting candidates, 59% of European employers are facing difficulty. That figure is significantly higher in Belgium (65%), the UK (59.1%), the Netherlands (54%) and Ireland (53%). Countries such as Sweden (32%), Italy (32%), Norway (31%) and Spain (29%) seem to have a slightly less difficult time attracting employees.

In fact, over half of UK employers (51.8%) say it's never been more difficult to attract talent.

    Recruitment efforts stall as jobs boom

    The picture is similar across Europe, underlining the new state of play in a job market where the war for talent is now employers’ most urgent challenge. The research also sheds light on how current employers are arming themselves in the battle to attract new employees, with over two-thirds (68.7%) of European companies surveyed indicating that they have never had such a hard time positioning themselves as attractive employers.

    Overall, six in ten European employers indicate that filling vacancies is currently taking longer. 

    Colette Philp, UK HR Country Lead at SD Worx, comments: "Recruitment issues are now running at record highs with companies facing a raft of major challenges to overcome at speed to keep apace in the heat of an intense war for talent. 

    With an unprecedented lack of availability in the workforce, our research confirms that employers will have to be more inventive and investment orientated to ensure business growth and survival. This means thinking strategically to open up new pools of talent in the existing workforce through investing in training and development as well as instituting the new, yet hardened, employee expectations of flexible working hours and arrangements to land essential talent.”

      Talent Shortage

      European employers find it particularly difficult to find candidates with the right skills. For 56% of the companies surveyed in Europe, this is the biggest challenge in the war for talent. The figure is even higher among Belgian (70%), Italian (63%) and German (61%) employers.

      New business models and digitisation are increasing the demand for new profiles. This new search points to a changing economy shaped by low employee availability and brings to light a new hardened business imperative to secure the right talent with the right skillset.

      Looking toward the future of the jobs market, European employers cited five core areas that will determine companies' ability to attract top talent:

      - 35% of employers put working hours and flexible working arrangements as a major priority
      - 34% of employers said job security and financial stability are in the top five
      - 34% said employees value the work atmosphere and social environment
      - 32% identified meaningful, interesting and challenging work as key
      - 27% of respondents said training and development opportunities are important

      Colette Philp, UK HR Country Lead at SD Worx, adds: "From a top to bottom level we need to rethink how we do recruitment. This means paying careful attention to new learning curves, opportunities for development, and the adaptability of potential candidates for a job. Right now, it’s a job hunter’s market and the onus is firmly on employers to step up to new expectations by hitting all the right notes in terms of pay, flexibility, purpose and culture. But despite the urgency, employers don’t have to support that switch alone.  For example, they can make use of education and training, or they can work with interim contracts. This way companies can still succeed in filling vacancies while increasing employee potential. Taking this fresh approach to recruitment practice has enormous potential to reshape not just growth and productivity but also employees’ very own career trajectories with a company.”

        About the survey

        As part of the War for Talent, iVox conducted a study commissioned by SD Worx into how European employers deal with attracting employees. The research focuses on attractive employership in the war for talent, what employees are looking for in an employer, and what employers focus on to be/become an attractive employer. The research deals with seven puzzle pieces employers can work with: well-being and people-oriented HR, flexible work organisation, motivating wage policy, inspiring and activating culture, digital workplace, talent management in sustainable careers and recruitment.
        The survey was conducted in February and March 2022 in Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland. A total of 4371 companies were surveyed. The sample is representative of the specific local labour markets and has the same composition according to the organisational size of the companies in the countries concerned.