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Digitalisation and recruitment: how employers can hire top skilled talent in 2019 

Matt Weston

January is always a busy time of the year in the recruitment industry. New candidates come through the door looking for new challenges, while employers are keen to fill gaps in their workforce.

Contributor Matt Weston, MD – Robert Half UK

The workplace has experienced some seismic shifts in recent years and this trend is set to continue into 2019. Cultural changes are occurring due to increased digitalisation as new technology becomes embedded in the office infrastructure.

The result is a more connected, flexible workplace, with recruitment being driven by the need to find candidates with the skills to help businesses adapt to digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation as we evolve in the future of work.

The digital revolution
Our 2019 Salary Guide found that two in five (38%) UK businesses – the equivalent to 2.6 million – consider digitalisation to be the main evolving force in the workplace today. As the roles of tomorrow are being shaped by digitalisation, so too are the skills required. And as the skills evolve, the war for talent is expected to intensify.

Tech-enabled jobs are transforming traditional industries, from accountants and financial services, to marketing. As a result, the desire for candidates with technical skills will increase over the course of next year – over half (56%) of employers view this as one of the most important aspects they consider when hiring. In addition, new sector specialists such as cyber security analysts and data scientists are becoming increasingly in-demand. 

The growth of technology in the workplace is also reflected by the increase in the number of students studying degrees that place a heavy focus on technology, such as computer science – with the number of students studying the subject growing by 13% from 89,000 in 2012/13 to 101,000 in 2016/17.

Digitalisation turbo-charging hiring strategies
Employers willingly admit that it’s harder to find qualified professionals than it was five years ago, with 82% – the equivalent to 4.7 million businesses – saying the skills shortage has made it more difficult to hire talent. From a recruitment perspective, this has created a buyer’s market which has forced employers to improve their approach to candidates in order to give them a competitive edge.

Companies must be flexible in their approach to hiring. To secure the premier talent, they need to compensate competitively. Employers admit that they would raise the initially-planned salary six times out of 10 to secure their favoured candidates, with 10% willing to do so nine out of 10 times. For example, our Salary Guide revealed that the top percentile salary for a software development manager increased from £88,500 in 2012 to £93,000 in 2019 – a 5% increase, compared to 2% wage inflation across the same period.

But it’s not just remuneration packages that need to be turbo-charged. Employers are also facing a demand to offer and invest in more training. A robust training programme is a major workplace benefit – it’s attractive to potential employees who want to develop their skillset in a new job, but also a highly effective retention strategy for existing staff members.

In fact, over three quarters (76%) of businesses – the equivalent to 4.3 million – said that candidates were more willing to leave if they were unable to provide them with their requested training, in comparison to three years ago. As a result, companies are starting to offer additional training to attract candidates – with over a third (34%) of businesses doing so.

While salary and training are two vital components of a hiring strategy, employee benefits are also being used as a way to attract top talent. Companies are beginning to incorporate flexible working and remote working initiatives into their hiring strategies – two fifths (40%) of businesses admit they use flexible working as an initiative for hiring and a third (33%) say the same for remote working. 

Employers often miss out on top talent due to delayed decision-making and elongated hiring times. Therefore, employers who have an agile recruitment strategy in place and are able to offer candidates an attractive benefits package stand to benefit. This is especially crucial when you consider that 71% of jobseekers regularly receive multiple job offers when they are looking for a new role.

Ultimately, employers need to create bespoke packages that suit candidates. By having an open and honest conversation, they will be able to create the optimum blend of remuneration, training and benefits to secure the right person with the skills to help them navigate an increasingly digitalised workplace in 2019.

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