There’s no doubt about it, good talent is currently very hard to come by. Indeed in some sectors, any talent is hard to come by. Right now there are candidate shortages across a whole range of sectors and skill levels, from entry point through to company leadership. Demand is high, so what can recruiters do about it?

Of course, there’s the option of just offering more money than the next person. From a recruiter’s point of view this is effectively robbing Peter of talent to give it to Paul. Unless moves are made to tap into new sources of labour, the prospect of perpetually moving chess pieces around without an endgame in sight seems all the staffing industry can hope for. This might result in decent revenues in the short term, but it’s just not sustainable. Already increased pay is beginning to lose its attraction – because how much do you have to give to make a difference? – while employment offers made by diverse companies are becoming increasingly similar. Ultimately, the market simply can’t afford this situation.

The good news is there are new potential workers out there. Candidates who for one reason or another are not usually considered by employers or who have a reduced level of access to the job market.

According to the WHO there are 1 billion people living with some form of disability and over 2.2 billion who have a visual impairment. Scope’s Big Hack program also found that it is over 50% more likely that disabled people will face barriers online compared to non-disabled people.

This immediately suggests that even in the hybrid, remote workplace dependence on technology to engage with and join the workforce can exclude some people.

Yet in reality issues and conditions can be accommodated and dealt with through a few thoughtful adaptations and approaches by employers. By offering the right tools, including attention to IT interfaces, employers can reverse the barriers and bring in candidates who may have felt held back by conditions such as dyslexia, blindness or physical issues.

Not only this, but tackling shift patterns and work expectations can further unlock parts of the under-utilised workforce. Parents and people with caring responsibilities may be more open to offers of work when those offers are flexed around their other responsibilities. Potential candidates who have taken a break from work for whatever reason may be tempted back if they are offered something that fits alongside other activities rather than something that competes for their time.

According to the Financial Times and others, the pandemic has triggered the exodus of older people from the UK workforce. Again, by delivering complete flexibility in when and how work is done it may be possible to tempt back these early retirees.

The exit of talent from the workforce has been seen as part of a wider trend. ’The Great Resignation’ or ‘The Great Re-evaluation’ has seen many workers using the pandemic and associated lock-downs as an opportunity to question why they are working and what they want to do with their lives. As such, providing as flexible and as easy a way as possible to engage with the workplace will enable employers to provide opportunities that better reflect what these individuals now want from their work.

As demonstrated by the pandemic and after, it is no longer necessary to travel anywhere in order to go to work. With the right equipment work can be done from practically anywhere and at a time that suits the individual. Not only that, but this kind of work can be more productive. By enabling everyone to access opportunities, employers become more inclusive and gain a more diverse workforce. Boston Consulting Group have recorded a 19% increase in innovation revenue, among companies who have diverse management teams compared with their less diverse counterparts. Meanwhile Deloitte assess that diverse companies with a mature talent strategy enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee.

Flexibility is certainly at a premium in today’s talent market, but so too is speed to hire. Candidates don’t want to hang around waiting for employers to create the right circumstances for them to work or to spend ages on-boarding them when a green light is given. To be truly competitive and take advantage of the talent that now exists employers need to invest in the technology and solutions that get everyone working as they want to as quickly and efficiently as possible.

by Daniel Kieve, Pixid UK & Ireland