It’s been a strange old year. More roles being registered in the agency and in-house sectors since July 2013, but the lack of skilled candidates has been at its highest since 2010. This is clearly having a detrimental impact on many company’s ambitions to grow and prosper. It begs so many different questions, which this overview hopes to answer.
Why Is There A Candidate Shortage?
It’s sometimes hard to decipher why there is such a shortage, in particular for PR & digital agencies where we’ve taken on first class opportunities, offering well-above average salaries that have been left open for periods of over three months, and sometimes much longer. The relentless tightening of this market has continued to push salaries up in these sectors. And while this is welcomed by jobseekers, this uplift in pay has put more pressure on companies’ ability to attract the best people in the market.
The availability of skilled candidates remains a significant concern. Businesses, agencies in particular, have been fiercely competing to secure top talent. This dynamic has driven significant salary growth in pockets of the market, such as digital and integrated agencies, where the demand/supply mismatch is particularly prevalent. We have witnessed credible candidates, particularly at management level, receive two, sometimes three different offers. This means clients have had to go back to the drawing board on several occasions. Many businesses being reluctant to lose good people has also led to certain candidates receiving substantial pay increases to stay put. But over 80% will be back on the job market within six months. So it certainly pays off in the long run to let someone go once they have handed in their notice.
Overview Of The Skills Gap
We’ve also seen a much higher proportion of clients offer candidates at first interview stage. But permanent candidate shortages in the Midlands and North West are still high for PR Account Managers and digital personnel. I won’t even mention Web Developers because we all know they are harder to find than Lord Lucan. A recent survey by Harvard Business School reported that 87% of executives struggle to find and retain top employees. HR leaders struggle to bring together the right people and information to make the right planning decisions about individuals to counter this problem. The most disturbing aspect is that openings at Account Executive level have also taken longer to fill. This does not bode well for the future. Unless companies are prepared to hire less commercially experienced candidates, the skill gap at management level by 2017/18 will be beyond comprehensible.
One very clear is that there is a new generation of worker coming through that have very different perceptions of the jobs market. Namely, Generation Y. I don’t think they are in any way better or more creative than their peers from the past. But they show us that it’s not just pay that is swaying people in this market. Many other things, such as working environment and flexible hours, can influence their job hunting habits. I’m not convinced all employers are geared up to take advantage of their wish list.
Along similar lines, I’m also not convinced this new breed of worker is fully tuned in to what is expected of them in the workplace based on how many times I’m asked about working hours and work/life balance. Unless these differences can be overcome, the search for talented people will certainly continue.
Benefits and Environment
There is no doubt that talented candidates are calling the shots and there is no evidence to suggest that this will abate in 2016. Flexibility or modern working environments may be one key to unlocking the talent door. It is crystal clear that the modern worker expects a lot more than just fixed hours, job role and location. Where they do it has become more and more important. Flexibility has become a highly prized commodity as an employee benefit. Not just in terms of hours they perform, but in the environment in which they work.
I’ve visited a few agencies and companies over my time. It’s clear some are making a huge effort to make there working environment more open, stylish, and sophisticated. There is compelling evidence that organisations are increasingly recognising the need to provide their workers with workspaces that meet their diverse expectations as well as working hours that suit their lifestyle. You only have to look at Regus, the world’s largest provider of office space. They’ve completely changed their take on office design. They are producing more workspaces that facilitate mindfulness, encourage interaction with different people every day, and allow people to choose which part of the physical workplace to be their desk, as a way of boosting motivation and overall wellbeing.
Recruitment is a costly endeavour for most businesses. Whether you are sifting through CVs for lightly skilled jobs or digging deep to find that highly sought after Digital Executive. Costs to recruit, train, develop and retain the most sought after employee can run close to six figures. There is also strong evidence there could be more icebergs ahead. The Midlands is the region with the fastest deterioration of availability for both permanent and temporary staff. This could cause supply/demand issues for employers searching for talent.
With pay inflation still very apparent, it seems that employers will continuing to use cash as the main draw. But a more holistic approach to attracting candidates could be key to creating sustainability in the creative job market. It therefore may pay dividends to think long and hard about your offering before you start to recruit. You only have to walk into your local Starbucks to see a new army of workers tapping happily on laptops. So its clear companies will have to be even more flexible in their approach to attract talent.
Robin Chase, author of Peers Inc, said “My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime, and my children will have six jobs at the same time”. I couldn’t put it better myself.