Navigating the UK’s Talent Terrain in 2023
In this blog post, Peter Cleverton, Managing Director of EMEA at HireRight, shares some key takeaways from HireRight's 2023 Global Benchmark Report, based on how HR and talent professionals in the UK plan to navigate retention, talent acquisition, and employment risk mitigation in 2023 and beyond.
Despite the frequent doom and gloom headlines about mass employee layoffs, particularly at a host of well-known global technology companies, it seems that most UK-based organisations remain positive and actually anticipate workforce growth this year, according to the findings of HireRight’s 2023 Global Benchmark Survey.
But whether businesses are trying to manage growing pains or face difficult downsizing decisions – especially in a fluctuating market – there is still likely to be some common ground. So, to better understand some of the myriad of talent challenges organisations are facing, HireRight’s 16th annual survey canvassed the opinions of senior HR, risk, and talent acquisition professionals worldwide.
Here are some key takeaways for UK businesses based on how HR and talent professionals in the UK plan to navigate retention, talent acquisition, and employment risk mitigation in 2023 and beyond.
Employee Wellbeing = Retention?
This year’s survey, conducted between February 15 and March 12, 2023, found that over two-thirds (68%) of UK businesses reported organisational growth in 2022, more than half (51%) are expecting to grow in 2023, and just 9% anticipate a decline in workforce numbers by the end of the year. And while talent acquisition must be vital to achieving workforce growth, retention too is likely to be a priority for many UK businesses to help minimise recruitment costs by retaining and nurturing their current workforce.
With meaningful pay rises hard to deliver for many organisations in the current economic climate, it may come as no surprise that many employers sought, and continue to seek, alternative ways to drive staff retention. Nearly half (45%) of UK businesses introduced new wellbeing initiatives in 2022, and two-fifths (39%) invested in providing additional training and professional development opportunities last year. Additional bonuses, enhanced healthcare offerings, and increased annual leave allocations were less commonly used, with each only utilised by around a quarter (26%) of UK companies last year.
For 2023, new wellbeing initiatives and providing additional training and professional development opportunities remain the most widely planned activities, suggesting most businesses are unable – or unwilling – to increase their financial compensation offerings this year. Whether these tactics will be successful and sufficient to prevent organisations from losing their top talent to other companies offering higher salaries and better benefits remains to be seen.
More Focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In a shift from past years’ results, the most common recruitment challenge that UK-based employers expect to face this year, and for the following three years, is not finding qualified job candidates – it’s increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workforce.
According to 54% of UK respondents, increasing DEI in the workforce will be one of their most significant talent acquisition challenges in 2023. Looking ahead, this issue is expected to spread to even more organisations, with two-thirds (66%) of UK businesses anticipating that increasing DEI in their workforce will be one of their major talent challenges between 2024 and 2026.
Looking at your employer brand may be a good starting point for many companies planning to address workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion this year. Half (49%) of our UK survey respondents cited the creation of an employer brand that attracts talent as a key talent acquisition challenge for 2023, with the same amount saying that finding qualified job candidates is among their top challenges. Perhaps by developing and promoting their employer brands this year, while being cognizant of their long-term DEI goals, employers can start tackling these issues simultaneously by attracting more talent to their organisation from an increasingly diverse talent pool.
Additionally, over half (54%) of survey respondents from the UK said that their corporate website – often the primary location for showcasing an employer’s brand – is expected to be among their most effective recruitment channels in 2023, as it was last year. If your company doesn’t have an enticing story to tell or an attractive employer brand, potential candidates may look elsewhere for their next job.
Employment History Matters
For UK businesses that use pre-employment background screening as part of their hiring due diligence, the most common checks are employment verifications, criminal record checks, and education credentials.
Nearly all UK survey respondents (94%) said they conduct employment checks – and the number of respondents that reported finding discrepancies from these checks may tell us why. Almost three-quarters (73%) of UK respondents said that employment verifications were among the areas they most often found discrepancies in their candidates’ background checks.
Additionally, almost seven in 10 (68%) said they verify their candidates’ education credentials, with over a third (36%) citing education checks as one of the areas they most often find candidate discrepancies.
In summary, this year’s survey findings suggest that many UK employers are in the same boat, facing similar recruitment and retention issues and finding the same candidate discrepancies during their pre-employment background checks. However, given the number of optimistic businesses projecting workforce growth this year, the water may not be as choppy as you might have thought.
For more insights into how businesses from around the world – including those within the EMEA region – are managing their recruitment, retention, and screening programmes, download HireRight’s 2023 Global Benchmark Report, “Navigating New Territory,” which is out now.