An award-winning HR Tech entrepreneur and champion of female entrepreneurship from Birmingham, UK

Big Businesses Cling On as Candidates Throw U-Turns

What Uncertain Times in Recruitment Mean for Growing Organisations

A few weeks ago, Matt Weston from Robert Half Recruitment wrote a piece in HR Director titled ‘Retention Fears to UK PLC Intensifies’. The piece, which is well worth a read, highlighted the ‘war on talent’ facing organisations but notably raised the growing plans of senior executives to retain and train talent to secure an engaged and productive workforce.

This resonated with me, but perhaps not for the reasons you’d think. Yes, I see massive value in retaining and training excellent staff, and at Natural HR we work hard to do so. But instead, this piece resonated because, as a small but rapidly growing organisation that needs to attract new talent, we increasingly find ourselves in tricky recruitment situations, as candidates accept positions and then throw a U-turn right at the last minute.

While our recruitment efforts increased in 2019 due to investment and growth, I have never known the ‘recruitment landscape’ to be this unpredictable. To recruit for one position just recently, we had to go through three rounds of recruitment, despite offering the role to two different people in the initial two rounds. This seems to be the case whether we recruit directly or through recruitment agencies.

With unemployment down, big organisations seem intent on keeping hold of employees. With offers of bigger salaries, paid-for training opportunities, or even reviewed job descriptions being placed on the table when a valued employee says their leaving, it seems the likes of my growing organisation will need to enter into bidding wars for individuals – a battle I feel in two minds about.

Additionally, in 2019 we’ve seen more individuals enter the recruitment process only to drop out even before interviewing. While this has always been the case, I sense an increased nervousness from candidates about making career changes in the current uncertain economic landscape. Recruiters we work with even appear shocked when this happens, as often the candidate has just got cold feet and is simply choosing not to move at all. This seeming anxiety around making a move at the moment is perhaps also making the promise of greater remuneration packages or training at their existing bigger organisations the more ‘appealing’ option in these uncertain and unpredictable times.

Regardless, it does pose a challenge for a business like mine, where growth is strong, consumer demand is there, and we need to ensure we can employ the right people to capitalise on this. All while bigger businesses direct energy and resource into desperately clinging on to their people!

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