Firms fight for skilled workers in tough market

Kris Flanagan is Scottish director for Robert Half UK.

Kris Flanagan is Scottish director for Robert Half UK.

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FOUR out of ten HR directors north of the Border plan to increase their companies’ headcounts this year, while just 13 per cent are on a recruitment freeze, a new survey reveals.

Despite the upbeat mood, however, almost every HR executive polled by specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Half warns that it remains a challenging environment to find skilled employees. Some 85 per cent are concerned about losing top perfomers.

The firm’s bi-annual “professional hiring index” report is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives, conducted by an independent research firm. It is regarded as a valuable benchmark for corporate hiring intentions.

Kris Flanagan, Scottish associate director for Robert Half UK, said a competitive backdrop meant that companies would need to entice prospective staff with generous pay packages.

He said: “We are witnessing the typical post-recessionary power shift, with rapidly increasing demand for niche skills and commercial acumen affording candidates a position of strength from which to negotiate.

“Scottish firms looking to expand their employee base are likely to drive up wages with the increased competition for the most sought-after professionals. Companies who want to attract skilled employees will need to look once again towards generous remuneration packages.”

He added: “It’s also important to ‘re-recruit’ current staff in a bid to retain them, making sure they are aware of training programmes and opportunities to progress, as well as other factors such as flexible working to facilitate work-life balance.”

The report points to a number of challenges for companies searching for new staff including a lack of niche technical expertise and “lack of commercial acumen”.

A recent Bank of Scotland survey showed that the jobs market in Scotland continued to show signs of improvement with a sharp rise in permanent placements. However, it also found an easing of salary inflation for permanent staff, with the rate of growth the slowest since November 2013.

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