Resourcing in turbulent times

Written by
Changeboard Team

31 Aug 2010

31 Aug 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Resourcing strategies and recruitment difficulties

Over half (56%) of respondents have a formal organisation resourcing strategy. The top three resourcing objectives behind that strategy include attracting and recruiting key staff (79%), enabling the achievement of the organisations strategic plan (59%) and meeting the future skills requirements of the organisation (47%).

As might be expected, there was a considerable decrease in the number of vacancies organisations tried to fill during 2009 compared with previous years. Yet, despite the reduction in recruitment activity, and the burgeoning labour market, two-thirds (68%) of organisations experienced recruitment difficulties.

Clearly, skills shortages do not go away, even in a recession and respondents maintained that managers, professionals and technical positions were the most difficult vacancies to fill.

Attracting and selecting candidates

The most effective methods for attracting candidates were through the organisations own corporate website and through the use of recruitment agencies, although there were significant differences in opinion across sectors.
Competency-based interviews (78%), interviews following the contents of candidates CV/application form (64%) and structured interviews (61%) were, as last year, the most common methods used to select applicants. The use of general ability tests has fallen although the use of tests for specific skills, literacy and/or numeracy remains constant.

Talent trends

Half of the organisations surveyed say the recession is having a negative impact on their resourcing budget for 2010. Unlike last year, when the public sector was less affected, this year they were equally likely to report cuts to resourcing.

More organisations will be focusing on developing talent in-house and retaining rather than recruiting talent this year compared with last. There are some indications that efforts to reduce recruitment costs will be made as substantially more expect to use new media/technology to recruit compared with last year.

Fewer organisations will be implementing a recruitment freeze in 2010 (22%) compared with in 2009 (42%). More (65%) expect to continue to recruit key talent/niche areas in 2010 compared with 2009 (53%). However, the outlook seems much bleaker for the public sector this year, where particularly large proportions are anticipating recruitment freezes (51%) (Vs 16% in the private sector) and reducing the number of recruits they hire (68%) (Vs 16% in the private sector).

Resourcing trends

2009 was a tough year for UK business. The economic crisis that really hit the UK in autumn.

2008 started the longest UK recession since the 1930s. Falling profits, reduced access to credit and increased uncertainty have characterised the year for many organisations. The need to cut costs has led to widespread redundancies, despite the admirable efforts of many to explore alternatives. Unemployment grew, yet not to the extent many originally predicted, as the large international fiscal stimulus boosted the economy.

The external environment is reflected in the findings of the CIPDs annual Resourcing and Talent Planning survey. There was a considerable decrease in the number of vacancies that organisations tried to fill. The changing balance in supply and demand of labour was also evident. Fewer organisations experienced recruitment or retention difficulties compared with previous years. With fewer vacancies available, many organisations experienced a notable increase in the volume of applicants, although significantly more reported the increase was of unsuitable rather than suitable candidates.

Skills shortages and talent

Despite the burgeoning supply of labour, many organisations are still experiencing skills shortages. More than two-thirds still had problems filling some vacancies, most commonly due to a lack of required skills. Moreover, twice as many organisations this year report that competition for talent is greater as the pool of available talent to hire has fallen sharply. This suggests that the gap between the skills of the labour force and the needs of employers grew, even as the supply of labour increased.

Organisations are consequently making efforts to hold onto and grow the talent they have. Despite widespread cuts to resourcing budgets, most organisations remained focused on managing talent during the recession and many preserved the rewards for identified talent rather than all employees.

Economic predictions

Looking forward, economic predictions forecast slow growth in the UK economy in 2010. In the private sector companies are finding ways to restore profitability and fewer organisations expect to reduce their headcount or freeze recruitment compared with 2009. The public sector, however, anticipates significant budget cuts to address the national debt. Many organisations in this sector expect to implement recruitment freezes, headcount reductions and reductions in the number of new recruits.

Resourcing budgets are expected to remain tight across all sectors and organisations will need to continue to adopt innovative strategies and approaches to resourcing. A strong focus on recruiting, developing and retaining talent will be essential for ensuring long-term profitability.

CIPD resourcing recommendations

Some of the recommendations from our recent talent management research should be particularly helpful for organisations when thinking about their resourcing and talent planning strategies in turbulent times:

  • Support and engage employees through the uncertain economic climate communicate what is happening and why, keep an ear to the ground to gauge the general mood of employees and support the survivors of the business.
  • Pay attention to your organisations skills shortages and develop different possibilities for building up knowledge and experience in these areas.
  • Maintain momentum around your employer brand and, even if not currently recruiting, keep talent warm for the future.
  • Consolidate the people management skills of your line managers to identify, assess and develop talent effectively (such as performance management, giving feedback and having effective conversations, coaching and engaging your people). 
  • Simplify and embed talent management processes and anchor development to the needs of the business.
  • Develop pivotal roles and opportunities for stretch assignments that are well supported.