Skills shortage?

Finding skills in a skills short market

Finding skills in a skills short market

Lately, I have heard a number of people lament that there is a skills shortage out there, with the availability of top quality candidates at an all time low. The post-GFC climate has apparently left employers (and recruiters) wanting, and there is a general sense of gloom out there that does not seem to even begin to abate.

This pessimism translates to, apparently, low revenues, poor KPI delivery and unease about future abilities to complete job briefs, and it is almost begrudgingly accepted as a fait accompli – the new paradigm of recruitment 2011 style. With unemployment reaching record lows, there would be evidence-based assessments that we are indeed entering difficult times.

However, have we been a little quick to jump to conclusions, and is this supposed skills shortage merely an excuse for lazy recruiting? The simple fact is this is an incredibly exciting time to be in recruitment. With roles seemingly harder to fill internally, the propensity for employers to seek help from agencies increases, and this skills shortage misnomer works to recruiter’s advantage. Yet, laziness is the thing that will undo this bout of good fortune.

A quick check of recent research suggests there is a growing disquiet amongst employees keen to, at the very least, look over the fence at potential new opportunities. There is evidence aplenty that adjusting the way in which recruiters search will remove this notion of a skills shortage.

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The Real Costs of Recruiting

How much are you paying when you recruit?

Ask any small business what are the major concerns facing its prolonged existence and invariably the answer will come back to “cash flow”. That bugbear of any business giving it reason for being or reason for folding. So a business worth its salt keeps an indelible eye on the cash comings and goings, observing it with an almost eagle-eyed resolve.

Why then do a large number of businesses ignore a procession of money walking out the door in the name of its most vital acquisitions – people? For too long, there has been either a denunciation of its impact or complete ignorance of its effect. Either way, the true cost of employment is something that needs to be acknowledged to ensure it can be controlled fully and the overall costs brought to an acceptable minimum.

Whilst it will be mentioned as part of the cost breakdown, the most common view of recruitment costs is the employment of agencies. In most cases this is only a small commitment to the overall expenditure and it can be argued that, if used correctly, will reduce the overall spend on recruitment significantly.

Businesses need to look at two main areas where expenditure on hiring is focused. These include the known and unknown costs of hiring, and the costs associated with a bad hire.

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‘Undercover Boss’ should challenge all bosses

A quick post today to highlight my thoughts on Channel 10’s Undercover Boss. Looking at both the Australian and US versions, a couple of points I want to raise include:

  • If the ‘Boss’ has to go ‘Undercover’ to check out how their operations are going, what does this say about information sent to them by the leadership team?
  • The ‘Boss’ finds some startling issues facing the business. Why did they not know of this previously – for example, dilapidated outlets, antiquated process and dangerous machinery
  • The feel-good section at the end where certain employees are called into the office to meet the revealed ‘Boss’ demonstrates two disturbing things: 1: the rewards are generally for the employee, and at times their immediate location, without much company-wide implementation; and 2: What sort of employee engagement will follow when other employees become aware of the perks these select few received. I would suggest some sort of jealousy would come into it, with the  possibility of the employee becoming ostracised and workplace toxicity brewing.
  • Anyone who is in any sort of management, from CEO to Team Leader, should watch this, then ensure none it is replicated within their workplaces. This is a wake-up call for all leaders to ensure they are fully aware of everything that goes on within their business so they are not surprised by any workplace issue.

Whilst it is an interesting show, and it is good to see CEO’s getting down amongst the people that put them there, I feel that there are lessons to be learnt that perhaps are not being overly considered in the context of the show. As someone who wants to see employee engagement a centrepiece of every business in Australia, I see some interesting challenges in between me and that goal, and ‘Undercover Boss’ proves it most succinctly!