How top com­pa­nies are now hav­ing to work harder to draw and re­tain the best tal­ent

Aba­cus Ca­reers Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Stuart John

Belfast Telegraph - Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies - - RECRUITMEN­T -

At­tract­ing and re­tain­ing the best tal­ent is a chal­lenge many or­gan­i­sa­tions face. In re­cent years, com­mer­cial busi­nesses of all sizes have con­sid­ered in de­tail the ques­tion of em­ployee re­ward when it comes to two busi­ness crit­i­cal is­sues, re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion. With lat­est of­fi­cial fig­ures show­ing lo­cal un­em­ploy­ment rates at a record low this year, new re­search re­veals that North­ern Ire­land com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly pro­vid­ing com­pelling work­ing pack­ages to se­cure the staff they need to suc­ceed both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The an­nual NI Salary Sur­vey Re­port car­ried out by Aba­cus Ca­reers, part of the Aba­cus Tal­ent Group, sur­veyed over 1,000 pro­fes­sion­als across five sec­tors cov­er­ing 20 seg­ments and 60 spe­cific job ti­tles.

There has been an in­flux of global firms to North­ern Ire­land and an in­crease in lo­cal com­pa­nies ex­port­ing their ser­vices out­side their home mar­ket. This ex­ter­nal fo­cus presents an ad­di­tional need to adapt em­ploy­ment mod­els to meet the de­mands of de­liv­er­ing

in­ter­na­tional ser­vices to dif­fer­ent time zones around the globe.

Many em­ploy­ers seek to re­tain staff by of­fer­ing a com­pet­i­tive salary, but while salary still plays a role in at­tract­ing tal­ent, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily keep em­ploy­ees around. The re­search shows that many for­ward-think­ing busi­nesses are em­brac­ing other forms of em­ployee re­ward to as­sist with staff re­ten­tion and are de­liv­er­ing in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive work­place pack­ages, with an in­creased fo­cus on work-life bal­ance, flex­i­ble work­ing, bonuses and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment.

Ap­prox­i­mately 52% of pro­fes­sion­als now avail of flex­i­ble work­ing in NI, an in­crease of 9% from last year. The le­gal sec­tor is lead­ing in this area with an av­er­age of over 60% work­ing flex­i­bly and in­cludes work­ing from home, flex­i­ble start and fin­ish times and time in-lieu. The re­sults are a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from the pre­vi­ous year’s re­sults where the sec­tor was av­er­ag­ing at 48%. Sales sup­port roles were least likely to in­clude flex­i­ble work­ing at 24%.

Re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing em­ploy­ees can be a tricky task and it can be even more chal­leng­ing for SMES who don’t have the same re­sources larger or­gan­i­sa­tions have at their dis­posal. Be­ing a smaller fish in the pond, how­ever, isn’t al­ways a bad thing and although a chal­lenge, smaller firms can stand out when com­pet­ing for top tal­ent by adapt­ing a ‘com­mon-sense’ ap­proach. We find that busi­nesses that can of­fer flex­i­ble solutions to suit all par­ties will also be well-po­si­tioned when it comes to their em­ployer brand and re­tain­ing a steady work­force.

De­spite a cli­mate of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty, from deal­ing with Brexit and an ab­sent Ex­ec­u­tive, em­ploy­ees are re­main­ing pos­i­tive. Bsi­nesses should be aware that ex­pec­ta­tions for in­creases in ba­sic pay are up among em­ploy­ees. Ap­prox­i­mately 76% of fe­male and 75% of male re­spon­dents sur­veyed ex­pect a salary in­crease in the year ahead — a 9% and 4% in­crease re­spec­tively on last year. Ex­pec­ta­tions were par­tic­u­larly high among those work­ing in the le­gal sec­tor, with 91% of males and 93% of fe­males ex­pect­ing a rise.

With salaries be­ing a ma­jor el­e­ment of core costs, this news may con­cern busi­ness lead­ers who are keen to pro­tect profit mar­gins, how­ever, we should take this news in con­text. In the last five years ba­sic pay in­creases have been low and, in some cases, neg­a­tive. The mar­ket is re­turn­ing to a nor­mal phase and in­deed, the re­cent an­nounce­ment by the Bank of Eng­land warn­ing of more fre­quent in­ter­est rate rises in the fu­ture sug­gests they pre­dict the econ­omy to per­form bet­ter than ex­pected in the short term.

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