The Pandemic is the challenge that keeps giving, and one of the most worrying trends for employers is the lack of available candidates to fill vacancies.

Whether you’re running a logistics company, coffee shop, digital marketing agency or manufacturing plant, recruitment is a common problem across the UK.  Companies have been struggling to fill vacancies that have been generated through the effects of the pandemic.  The problem is there is no single apparent cause for the phenomenon, and those seeking employment are often equally bemused by the situation because, perversely, they’re finding it hard to secure jobs.

For many job seekers, the situation is confusing due to a disconnect between what they hear about job availability and what is happening.

Employers are receiving hundreds of applications from candidates who lack the appropriate skills and experience or whose expectations of salary and flexibility are beyond that on offer.  There is an apparent mismatch between the experience required within advertised vacancies and the available pool of candidates.

Another factor is the employer’s failure to recruit candidates that hit the brief for the role advertised.  According to a survey by recruitment consultants Robert Half, incredibly 46% of senior decision-makers report making bad decisions when hiring in the past 12 months, with small businesses most adversely affected.

With the backdrop of the “Great Resignation” and a need to rapidly fill fast-appearing gaps in the workforce, hasty appointments have left their mark. This impacts the growth potential of a business but also has another detrimental impact on already trusted and capable staff faced with digging out their new colleagues.

The unwanted consequence of this current supply and demand disparity and poor recruitment decision-making is the pressure on those in the post working to keep the business trading.  A “stepping up” element occurred when thousands of staff were placed on furlough. That was not technically supposed to be an outcome of the furlough process, but in unchartered waters, it proved challenging to balance how many and specifically who to furlough.  We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the burden of digging employers out of poor selections fell onto the staff who were remaining in post.

Furlough was, of course, a finite period of time and whilst not suitable for morale or mental and physical states for those working long hours and covering multiple roles, at least they knew it wouldn’t be forever.

With the confused state of the job market and difficulties filling positions, employers need to ensure the staff they have are not facing unreasonable requests or demands on their time and test their resilience.

Avoiding Burnout – Proactive steps

  1. Communicate – ensure you stay in touch with your staff and that no one is left to fend for themselves in an understaffed situation.  Check-in via regular surveys and monitor responses, flagging any concerns and responding swiftly to reported issues.
  2. Prioritise to work Smart – help staff to let go of any tasks that are non-urgent or essential so they can concentrate on business-critical work.  If necessary, provide support through tips and advice on effective time management, organisation and ensuring they know when to highlight their concerns if work becomes too onerous.
  3. Tools – ensure staff are equipped with the most appropriate and efficient tools and are fully trained on their application.  This could be a physical piece of equipment or a software package.
  4. Flexible working – enabling a staff member to work at times that do not conflict with domestic or other non-work-related tasks will help reduce stress.
  5. Use various resources to support your teams, including temporary hires, interim appointments and freelancers.

The above is not an exhaustive list but a demonstration of the measures and steps that can be taken proactively to support staff during times of reduced headcount.