For the first part of our War For Talent series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Garner. With over 10 years worth of experience in recruitment, Chris is now the Director of Folded Corner - a recruitment agency focusing on placing digital talent.
In this article, Chris shares his in-depth knowledge to help you deal with today’s challenging market and also tells us his top 3 tips for recruiting top talent!
What are the key challenges organisations are facing right now when it comes to the war for talent?
I think the biggest challenge everybody is facing at the moment is competition. It's been well-documented how competitive the employment market is at present. With the economy opening up earlier this year, the influx of new roles from companies hiring has massively outstripped supply.
There are more vacancies being posted now than there was pre-pandemic. Couple that in with Brexit and the fact that staff have been well retained, means the cumulative effect has massively impacted the market.
All of this has forced companies to review their hiring policies and compensation packages, which has inflated salaries.
Another massive challenge is the ability to adapt quickly to the marketplace. Everything changed so quickly. Now all of a sudden employers are having to ask themselves ‘how do we stand out from the crowd? What more can we do to attract the best talent available?’ Whereas before, these things may have come slightly easier.
What measures have you seen companies take in response? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
First and foremost, again pretty well documented, is remote or hybrid working setups picking up massively. It doesn't limit companies to specific talent pools based on geography, London for example, where demand can be much higher than other areas.
There's been a great emphasis on benefits, especially around mental health, supporting parents, working from home, flexible hours, childcare, and also unlimited holidays is definitely becoming more commonplace. I think it's also meant that companies adopted digitalisation as much as possible in terms of the way that they're working.
From a social perspective, they’ve had to decide how they integrate people from a remote or hybrid working type of environment.
In terms of what hasn't worked, it comes down to when companies haven't adapted quickly enough. The market has definitely shifted, people's priorities changed off the back of the pandemic. Companies that remained static in terms of the way that they work have really struggled in terms of attracting new talent.
Honestly, it's fascinating to see how much people's perspectives have changed. Even when I interview people who are based in London, they're pushing back on me asking “is it fully remote?” and in my head I’m thinking you literally live about half an hour from the office yet this is still a deal breaker for you.
I now see almost a hundred per cent of candidates asking if the role is hybrid. They’re asking questions like; what is their working philosophy? How often will I be asked to go into the office? What are their rules around flexible working?
If you decide to stay 100% office based, it will definitely put you at a huge disadvantage. The pandemic essentially opened up the window for that new level of flexibility and, in most cases, it will be very difficult to take that away from people.
What do you think are some of the key drivers behind the great resignation?
As I mentioned before, people's priorities have changed. We discussed the greater flexibility around work-life balance and remote working etc. But there are plenty more examples where I’ve seen peoples priorities shift.
People are now placing much more value on benefits around mental health and wellbeing. Then there’s also diversity and inclusion, it’s been incredible to see how much this has changed in the last year or so. Working in a more diverse workplace has definitely become one of a candidate's biggest priorities.
Some recent data published by LinkedIn has shown that working in a diverse team saw the biggest increase in terms of candidate requirements when looking for a new role.
The pandemic gave people a lot of time to sit with themselves or their families and reflect on what's actually important to them. Do people truly believe in their current employer's mission or company's direction? If not, then they might go out and seek an opportunity that better fulfils those needs.
And let’s not forget burnout. Flexible working is great in so many ways. BUT, it also means you can get a slack or a ping at any time and just automatically switch back into work mode. This can make it very difficult to switch off. I think a recent study I read said about 35% of people feel that they work longer hours than they did pre-pandemic. You can imagine how this could lead to a lot of people deciding they need a break, possibly choosing to resign.
In your opinion, what are the top three tips for attracting the best talent?
No.1 - Think outside the box and be flexible
My first point would be to think outside the box. What are the absolute must-have traits a person will need to be successful in this role? What are the desirables? What trade offs can you make when you take into account what can be trained and learned?
With such strong competition, having a level of flexibility around what your perfect candidate looks like will put you in the best position possible to attract the best talent available. Everyone wants to wait for that unicorn, but actually, you can train certain elements and you don’t have to wait for that perfect person.
No.2 - Create the best candidate experience possible
The second is really around the candidate experience. It's a candidate-driven market, everybody knows that. So what can you do in terms of improving that end to end candidate experience?
From the first moment they research into your business, to that first touchpoint with a recruiter or team member, all the way through to not only the acceptance but also the onboarding period. The candidate experience in the interview process is essentially a window into your company culture. Having a clearly defined process that is transpired and inclusive will provide candidates with the best opportunity to get to know and feel wanted by a company.
No.3 - Develop employer brand
My third tip would be to develop the employer brand. Does your company share and celebrate what your company culture looks like?
There's a massive opportunity to put material online that enables people to understand what it’s like to work for your company. It’s not just looking at Glassdoor, but also how do the current employees talk about their life at a business? Do your employees act as brand ambassadors?
A great example of a company doing this really well is Miro. How they work is truly celebrated by everyone who works there. I think that's even more important given the lack of face-to-face human interaction you get working remotely. How you display your company culture and your employer brand online can become the only way someone outside the company can experience it.