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Rapid innovation is the only way to compete for skilled employees

Discover expert insights on how UK businesses can tackle the unprecedented skills shortage plaguing the workforce.

The UK is facing an unprecedented skills shortage, with the latest government statistics revealing that 9.25 million people aged 16-64 are currently out of the workforce. As a result, employers have a dwindling pool of talent to select from to plug skills gaps.

According to Liam McNeill, Group Vice President, EMEA at UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, workforce management and culture solutions for all people, to combat this national shortage, business leaders should look to innovation to streamline processes. This includes improving the quality of training and development businesses offer to attract experienced staff, while helping their existing employees develop the skills that they need to plug the gap.

McNeill said: “The UK workforce has faced a period of sustained pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many older employees were pushed into early retirement, with no intention of ever returning to work, while the number of workers on long-term sick leave remains at a record level.

“In cases where there simply aren’t enough staff available to fill crucial vacancies, businesses should turn to automation to plug workforce gaps. For example, labour planning technology can automatically schedule shift patterns, so that managers no longer need to perform this process manually.

“This technology also improves the efficiency of staff allocation, allowing companies to maintain output levels without increasing the size of their workforce, while taking into account employee preferences so that workers receive shifts that suit them best.

“Business leaders can also upskill incumbent employees in response to labour shortages. This begins by providing access to a central hub where staff can find training resources, with suggestions tailored to each individual employee. Building a culture that recognises the value of continuous learning will then empower staff to seek out new opportunities for growth and development, encouraging them to step up and fill senior roles.

“Another way to improve employee experience and encourage retention is by granting staff the autonomy to swap shifts, book time off and pick up additional shifts through a personalised HR portal. Allowing workers to perform simple tasks without having to seek permission from managers instils a sense of trust across the organisation, as employees have more of a say over when they work and how often they work.”

McNeill concluded: “Ultimately, businesses must be flexible and open-minded if they are to remain profitable during this persistent period of staff shortages. If an employee walks out the door, organisations can no longer bank on finding an instant replacement, so implementing effective strategies for retention is vital.”

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