Firms fight for skilled workers in tough market

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.

Kris Flanagan is Scottish director for Robert Half UK.

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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.