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EMEA Businesses must prioritise finding and keeping talent in 2018

Steve Girdler

Investing in new and existing talent is a key strategy for UK business growth in the uncertain political and economic landscape of 2018 is essential for the future. Contributor Steve Girdler, Managing Director – HireRight EMEA and APAC.

The challenge of finding, retaining and developing talent has been long since bemoaned by employers and, perhaps unsurprisingly, over half of EMEA businesses have labelled this as their biggest business challenge for 2018, according to HireRight’s 2018 EMEA Employment Screening Benchmark Report.

Indeed, HR and risk departments have faced a nearly unprecedented year of change and challenge, as they face increasing pressures of regulatory compliance coupled with Brexit uncertainty and the move towards contingent and flexible working.

The current political landscape has made it difficult for many companies to attract talent, particularly amongst those who rely heavily on an overseas workforce. British businesses are clearly worried that in the wake of Brexit, the UK will become a less attractive prospect for skilled workers. Immigration law firm, Migrate UK, recently found that 39 percent of firms have already lost EU employees to other European Countries and 66 percent of HR directors said they have struggled to find sufficient employees since the referendum.

Despite the challenges ahead, confidence in the economic landscape seems to be on the road to recovery. Although 38 percent of those surveyed in the EMEA HireRight Benchmark Report believe that the UK is still a less attractive place to do business following the Brexit referendum, this is a considerable drop from 60 percent of those surveyed in 2017. Similarly, concerns over regulation and screening are less significant. There are many other indicators that business confidence is improving, not least that company growth has emerged as one of the top priorities for EMEA businesses with nearly three quarters of those surveyed reporting that they are planning to grow their workforce in 2018.

Thankfully, businesses are also realising the value in investing more into retaining their employees, with half (52 percent) of companies reporting that they are investing in engagement initiatives and improving company culture. Migrate UK’s research also found that 62 percent of UK companies have each paid up to £100,000 since Brexit in extra initiatives for EU workers – with free accommodation and school fees coming top of the list. The message here is clear; despite enormous amounts of uncertainty, both within businesses and the political landscape, business confidence is continuing to grow and as a result hiring rates are expected to rise – fantastic news in somewhat uncertain times.

Human resources professionals do however face other, similarly complex challenges that cannot be disregarded. Corporate reputational scandals continue to make headlines and with the added pressures of increased regulatory compliance, EMEA businesses are held closer to scrutiny than they have in previous years. With 89 percent of survey respondents reporting candidates misrepresenting information on CVs or job applications, the need for employers to hire with confidence is becoming ever-more crucial to mitigate business risk.  There is, however, a fine line, that HR professionals must be aware of to help ensure that candidates undergo a positive experience when subject to background screening. Half of those surveyed have said they are investing into initiatives to improve this, a positive indicator that businesses are at last putting in more time and resources into the recruitment process.

Increased regulation is a key worry for many businesses, particularly those effected by the GDPR. It’s clear that, as a result of the GDPR, companies are required to pay more attention to all aspects of data handling, including where data is stored and processed around the world. As a business, HireRight rigorously prepared for GDPR compliance in part by attaining ISO 27001 certification, maintaining data subject to the GDPR in an EU data centre and updating its key policies and processes – to ensure that candidate’s rights under the GDPR are recognised. These efforts and investments have put HireRight squarely at the forefront of the screening industry in terms of embracing the drive toward transparency, accessibility and compliance when it comes to candidate data.

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