With record low unemployment and record numbers of EU nationals leaving the country, the UK faces a growing skills shortage. As Brexit approaches, it’s likely that businesses will increasingly need to compete for the talent they need to make their businesses grow. A survey by Bonhill Group Plc suggests that businesses are, unfortunately, not taking this issue as seriously as they should. Many may be losing critical talent as a result.
Fully a third of the employees surveyed had failed to start a new job, despite initially accepting a job offer, while over 40 per cent indicated that they quit within six months of starting a new job. Not only does this deprive a business of important talent, it’s also expensive and time-consuming. In an increasingly competitive post-Brexit labour market, employers can’t afford to miss out on their first choice candidates. Companies need to find a way to address every potential problem with their approach to talent acquisition, whether they’re losing candidates to competing businesses, lengthy onboarding processes, or simple communication issues.
Businesses are losing their first choice candidates
Currently, many candidates are left confused or uncertain by inefficient onboarding processes. This makes them vulnerable to other offers, and may cause them to lose confidence in their future employer even before they start in their new role. Moreover, it can result in inappropriate hiring decisions that both employees and employers are forced to regret.
Onboarding is too slow
A third of employees surveyed indicated that they didn’t start a new job because the business offering them the job did not follow up on the job offer. Some reported hearing back weeks or months later, long after they had moved on and accepted another position. This kind of glacial onboarding is much more common among larger businesses, and represents an advantage for SMEs. However, businesses of all sizes can suffer from this problem if they don’t explicitly ensure that candidates are followed up within a timely manner.
Roles aren’t properly communicated
Half of employees who left shortly after starting in their new job indicated that their roles did not reflect their expectations. Not only is losing a new employee for this reason incredibly expensive after investing in their training, it’s also almost completely preventable. Business owners need to ensure that candidates understand the nature of their role and their responsibilities well before a job offer is ever extended.
Other employers are outbidding them
Of employees who never started positions after accepting an offer, half did so because they were later offered a better position by another company. While this might sound like a problem that’s out of the hiring business’ hands, poor onboarding is often a contributing factor. Candidates who have accepted a job offer need to be integrated quickly to provide them a sense of commitment. Businesses who delay in following up and actually starting their business relationship give competitors an opening.
Brexit is leaving UK businesses in a talent drought
Bad onboarding practices are expensive and detrimental to businesses regardless of their broader circumstances, but this issue is promising to be particularly problematic in the coming months and years. The number of EU citizens, typically skilled workers, leaving the UK is at its highest point since 2008. In many cases, UK businesses are already resorting to extraordinary measures to attract new talent from abroad.
The skills shortage, however, isn’t just the result of falling net migration. Massive foreign investment has been bolstering the UK economy since the announcement of Brexit, and has precipitated a boom in the startup sector in the country’s urban areas even as more traditional businesses in other parts of the country have begun to decline. While this has been an important boon for the economy, it has also created more jobs for skilled workers, while eliminating low-skill positions. The result is that the UK needs more skilled labour than ever at a time when skilled labour is already becoming harder to find.
After Brexit, it’s likely that UK business’ access to foreign workers will be even more limited. The UK government’s failure to reach a deal with the EU thus far suggests increased uncertainty about immigration for EU nationals, which could take months to address. In this environment, as well as the current one, it’s essential for businesses to seize every possible advantage with regard to talent acquisition. By addressing onboarding issues now, business owners have the opportunity to make themselves more competitive in the labour market, and to secure their growth in the coming year.