​Hope for staff shortages as workers signal intention to change roles. But hiring firms urged to prepare for potential ‘catch 22’

With employers said to be facing the worst shortage of job candidates on record, the fact that two thirds (65%) of people currently working are either searching for or open to new roles will offer hope to hiring businesses, explained international recruitment agency, Aspire, the company behind this research.

However, employers have been advised to plan for a potential ‘catch 22’, which is likely to see existing workers move jobs if businesses aren’t able to meet the changing needs of staff.

Nearly 600 candidates working across a range of industries - from creative to marketing, technology, and sales - participated in Aspire’s study, which explored the key issues facing the labor market in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the vast majority of survey respondents are engaged in work (whether as employees or contractors), the 65% actively searching for a new role or open to opportunities will boost confidence among hiring businesses.

But this data also serves as an important reminder to businesses about the need to cater for employees’ evolving job requirements, in order to hold onto workers, explained Aspire founder, Paul Farrer:

“This research offers both hope and alarm bells for employers at a time when many are battling frightening staff shortages due to the scarcity of candidates. It shows that a large number of already people are actively seeking or open to new opportunities - this poses a dilemma for businesses.

“Given the sheer number of job vacancies right now - which stand at a record level - it’s crucial that employers have a plan in place not only to win this fiercely competitive war for talent but also to retain their current workers. As we have seen with the petrol crisis, an inability to secure talent can result in organizations ceasing to function."

Aspire’s research also explored the factors that matter most to jobseekers - vital to businesses looking to stand out in this competitive hiring environment. In order, the five most important factors were:

  1. Salary

  2. Flexible working policy

  3. Progression and development opportunities

  4. Challenging nature of a role

  5. Company culture

Paul Farrer commented:

“Salary is often the first consideration for people when they are prompted, but it’s much more complex than that. The pandemic created a perfect storm. People who may have otherwise moved jobs in 2020 stayed put due Covid uncertainty. So 2021 sees two years’ worth of employees seeking change. Salary freezes and stalled promotional prospects in 2020 are also playing out. We are witnessing wage inflation across many sectors too, with employers having seen their staff leave for significant rises elsewhere.

“In this environment, smaller, independent organizations have the advantage over larger businesses to a degree. They benefit from agility and are able to move swiftly, make critical hiring and salary decisions there and then. But our research shows that it’s not all about the money. Flexible working policies, a clear and realistic progression path and a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important to jobseekers.

“There are many changes happening in society which people want to see reflected in their jobs. When looking to hire talent and hang on to those already employed, businesses must be able to meet workers’ many needs. It’s a real challenge but one that firms need to overcome.”