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What will be the biggest challenge facing Irish employers in 2019?

By Mike McDonagh, Managing Director of Hays Ireland

Skills shortages, more creative recruitment plans, and mounting salary demands are among the top issues on employers’ agendas for next year, according to our report, the Hays Ireland Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 guide.

Based on a survey of nearly 2,500 employers and employees across Ireland, the report shows that despite wider market uncertainty, employers are pressing ahead with their business plans and remain optimistic about the economic climate.

However, whilst of course, the long-term impact of Brexit remains ‘the great unknown’, skills shortages are currently the most acute challenge for employers – and one that cannot be overcome by pay rises alone.

Skills shortages impacting productivity and morale

With political, economic, social and technological changes taking place more rapidly than ever before, employers are under pressure to move fast and capitalise on new opportunities. Of course, to do this they need ready access to a skilled workforce.

Overall, 97% of employers have experienced some form of skills shortage within the last 12 months, and 61% cite a ‘shortage of suitable candidates’ as their biggest challenge when recruiting.

However, as most of you will recognise, the negative impacts of skills shortages stretch beyond simply struggling to hire the right candidate for a role. Whilst half of the businesses we surveyed say these shortages are impacting their ability to deliver important projects, 42% suggest it is hurting employee morale and 37% claim it is impacting their overall productivity.

Of course, one response to these skills shortages has been to increase salaries, in order to attract the best candidates in a scarce talent pool. In 2018, Hays Ireland found that salaries rose by an average of 1.9% (with some sectors inevitably much higher than this), and a substantial 77% of employers plan to increase salaries in the year ahead.

However, salary rises alone are not enough to encourage employees to look for new opportunities. Nearly a third (32%) of employees state that work-life balance is the most important factor aside from salary when considering changing jobs. 37% of those surveyed cite a lack of scope for progression within their current organisation and a further 21% referenced a lack of future opportunities with their current employer.

So, how can you beat the competition and attract the best talent?

  • Present a compelling employer brand: Standing out is essential in today’s market. While employers may once have looked to the same handful of companies as their competition for staff, employees today are juggling multiple options – whether that’s freelance work or self-employment, promising start-ups in emerging sectors, or global opportunities. Employers need to be on the front foot and lead with a strong offer of salary and career progression opportunities, and a seamless applicant experience if they want to attract the best candidates in today’s market. Remember that you’re asking candidates to leave their current company to join you (and why would they do that?) and you’re also asking them to choose your organisation ahead of all the others on the market (and why would they do that?).
  • Hire for potential: Don’t just look for experience. Invest in internal development programmes, which will not only address skills gaps but help mitigate the negative impact on employee morale associated with staff shortages by providing the career development opportunities employees are seeking.
  • Widen your talent pool: As skills shortages intensify, looking for talent in the same places every time is no longer a reliable strategy. Employers can widen their talent pool by looking at different sources that pertain to diverse populations of talent in addition to assessing their full application journey for inclusiveness. Ensure your recruitment materials portray your organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and implement recruitment campaigns that attract talent from traditionally under-represented groups.

To discover more insights into salaries and recruitment trends, request your copy of the Hays Ireland Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 guide.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Mike joined Hays in 2002 and lead the Accountancy & Finance, Construction & Property, Office Support, HR, Procurement, Executive and Multilingual teams before becoming the Managing Director of Hays Ireland.

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