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Labour shortages in multiple sectors are proving hugely challenging for employers right now, as vacancies in the UK hit new highs, and unemployment remains low. It means talent attraction and retention are top priorities for organisations facing fierce competition to secure much-needed skills.  

The candidate-driven market has not only boosted salaries and benefits, it has also led employers to develop strategies that improve employee engagement and candidate experiences. 

As well as enabling organisations to secure the skills they need, focusing on engagement and relationship building can influence organisational performance by improving employee productivity, wellbeing and innovation. Furthermore, an engaged workforce helps to reduce absenteeism and employee turnover.  

Despite the benefits, the UK and western Europe have the lowest employee engagement levels globally at just 11%, according to the latest Gallup State of the Global Workplace report.  

While advice on building meaningful employee relationships often begins at the onboarding stage, it actually starts much earlier than this. Here, we explore some of the key touchpoints that enable employers to build relationships that turn candidates into employees.  


1. Attraction

In a previous blog, we discussed how skills shortages had led many firms to focus on developing employer branding strategies that allow them to attract the best talent. 

Providing prospective employees with a glimpse behind the curtain lets them get a feel for what it will be like to work and develop in your organisation and who their colleagues will be. More employers are rethinking their approach, choosing to highlight the stories and experiences of their people in career-related communications. Video is playing an increasingly important role, with employers developing short, social-media friendly films to describe role responsibilities and provide insights into office life and team camaraderie.  


2. Application 

One of the drawbacks of conducting video interviews is that job seekers are less likely to get a feel for the work environment and culture. It means that once a candidate has entered the application stage, communication becomes crucial. With recruitment automation tools doing a good job to remove the admin  burden from early-stage hiring processes, employers must be mindful of retaining the personal touch. 

Regardless of whether they progress, all candidates should be kept informed at each stage with timelines provided. If possible,  and certainly after final stage interviews, such communications should be done ‘in-person’, i.e. over the phone and then followed by an email, with a designated point of contact provided to answer any questions. 

For interviews, particularly those taking place via video, try to make them as interactive as possible, with all shortlisted candidates introduced to the team they’ll be working with and given a tour of the workplace. It’s also beneficial to reinforce the company values and any CSR initiatives that employees get involved with. 

Remember, candidate experience extends to unsuccessful applicants too. Their skills may be valuable down the line, and they should feel encouraged and comfortable enough to apply again. Take the time to speak to unsuccessful candidates and provide feedback if welcomed. Since the pandemic, some employers have provided resources and tools to unsuccessful candidates to help them source an alternative role. For example, the Co-op, which saw a 30% increase in job applications last year despite new vacancies falling by 40%, partnered with Omni to launch the Co-op Career Development Hub, an online resource designed to help candidates who were no longer in the process build employability skills and secure their next role. 


3. Onboarding 

Onboarding should be an exciting time for new recruits. It’s an opportunity to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings, meet the team, and learn more about the business. With talent in high demand, employers must factor in retention as soon as a candidate accepts an offer. Sending a plan for their first day and the people they will report to will help alleviate any anxiety about what lies ahead. 

Instead of cramming onboarding into the first day or week, spread out any meetings with key contacts, giving new hires additional structure above their role responsibilities. Enabling them to meet with leaders and managers from other teams can go a long way in reinforcing collaboration and the value of their role in the organisation. All modes of communication should be introduced and explained from the get-go, particularly if it’s a remote or hybrid role, so employees know who they need to contact and how. 

Onboarding is a good time to revisit any expectations of the role set out in the interview. Remember that candidates may have interviewed with several employers so they could need a refresher. Take the time to reinforce the role responsibilities, benefits they can look forward to, and career development opportunities in a more relaxed setting, enabling them to ask any questions they might have missed in the interview.  


How effective is your resourcing strategy?  

When it comes to developing an effective and engaging resourcing strategy, it can be challenging to know where to start or what is important to your organisation now and in the future. Following years of research, along with our partnership with the CIPD and its annual Talent and Resourcing Survey, Omni has developed the Resourcing Effectiveness Assessment (REA), which will support you on this journey.  

Our REA will Audit where you are now, Assess against your own and other industries and then take the necessary Action to develop a strategy that will help you attract and retain the talent you need now and in the future. Find out more about undertaking an REA for your organisation, or get an insight into what to expect by completing a free mini REA today.