Skills Shortages: How To Stay One Step Ahead

Posted On 21 Jun 2017

Skills Shortages: How To Stay One Step Ahead

21 Jun 2017
Skills Shortages: How To Stay One Step Ahead

Skills Shortages: How To Stay One Step Ahead

EST10’s top 3 strategies to help alleviate the impact of skills shortages on your business

According to the NSW Business Chamber’s first Workforce Skills Survey released last month, more than half of employers in NSW say they are experiencing skills shortages and nearly two-thirds expect a shortage in the next 12 months.

The survey of more than 800 businesses found that skills shortages already total more than 54,000 jobs statewide. And not surprisingly, almost 85% of employers expressed concern about the impact skills shortages might have on their business.

So what can you do to help alleviate the impact of skills shortages on your business? At EST10 we believe in taking a three-pronged approach using a combination of flexible hiring and working policies, a tactical use of temps and proven retention and attraction strategies within the workplace.

Take a flexible approach to new hires

Right across the country, there’s a wealth of part-time and underemployed talent readily available for smart thinking businesses. When you find a great candidate who can only work part-time or needs more flexible hours, ask if this is something you can accommodate. Although full-time employees are often preferred, students, returning parents and retirees with highly valuable skillsets are all underused segments of the overall employment market.

Here at EST10, our extremely talented marketing coordinator joined us part-time as a student and has since transitioned into a permanent role after graduation. We also have three part-time employees juggling work and motherhood. Key to the success of such part-time opportunities is a commitment from both parties to be as organised as possible to make the best use of the available time in the office. This means looking at the bigger picture, anticipating upcoming projects and workloads and implementing flexible working policies based on employee trust and empowerment. Only in this way will you keep part-time workers engaged and productive.


Use temps strategically to plug the skills gap

When experiencing difficulties filling a role, it’s important to consider using a temp to fill the gap in the short term, rather than overloading existing employees. According to the Workforce Skills Survey, 40% of businesses in NSW have attempted to address their skills gaps either by increasing workloads or encouraging overtime. By contrast, only 11% have employed temps for short term projects.

Using temps strategically is particularly smart for business-critical projects where you need someone with a niche skill set who can get stuck in right away. Most recruitment agencies can provide temps for assignments as short as one day, to several months, depending on requirements.

Additionally, hiring a temp enables you to meet skilled candidates without committing to a permanent contract. Almost 50% of our temps at EST10 transition into permanent roles when their assignments have ended. Not because this was the intention, but because hiring temps allows employers to gauge cultural fit and see where they can add value.


Make employee engagement and recognition a top priority

No one wants to lose good employees – and this is even more important in times of skills shortages. Ensuring employee engagement is an important strategic initiative to ensure your team stays motivated. More often than not, clients believe employees resign because they have been offered a more lucrative role elsewhere. But the real reason is often to do with company culture, a lack of employee recognition and unfavourable working conditions.

In fact, recent research from Reward Gateway has revealed the disconnect between what employees really want and what their employers think they want. The survey of 1500 managers and 1500 employees across Australia, the US and UK found that 82% of managers believe they show enough appreciation for good work, yet over 60% of employees feel underappreciated. And 59% of employees would rather be recognised and rewarded for the work they do than receive a higher salary with no recognition.

Bundling your recognition and rewards initiatives and your employee benefits into your remuneration packages is therefore essential. The marketplace is extremely competitive with a wealth of health benefits, flexible hours, rewards and professional development opportunities now fairly standard. If you are offering these things (and hopefully more to your current employees), these are the things you should be pitching to potential candidates as part of your employment offer. And of course, ad hoc rewards and recognition never goes amiss, from congratulating employees for success on major projects to celebrating secular holidays like Admin Professionals’ Day.