Employers around the country are bracing themselves for the next several months. According to the Bank of England, the UK economy is expected to be in a recession until summer 2023. Among your many workforce concerns as an employer is to recession-proof your recruitment.
If your business is feeling the pinch because of soaring costs, you’re probably looking to make cost savings. What will difficult economic times mean for your workforce, and your plans to recruit and retain staff?
Salary cuts, pay freezes, recruitment freezes or even laying off staff might look like possible options. But it’s wise to think beyond short-term survival, and look ahead to beyond the recession.
We’ve identified the best steps your business can take to put itself – and its workforce – in the strongest position when the economy starts moving again.
All savvy businesses have a plan for all aspects of their business. We’ve talked before about how workforce planning came to the fore during the pandemic and included helpful resources on what should be considered and included.
Now, with so many businesses bracing for the effects of a recession, determining future staffing needs is doubly important. A well-thought out plan is the first important step to recession-proof your recruitment.
So, in a nutshell, consider:
The truth is that some businesses will need to cut hiring costs during this recession. Consider hiring temps or contract workers for new roles originally intended to be permanent. An added benefit if you work towards more diversity is that this can introduce new innovation into your systems.
If there is a way to keep your best people on board, you’ll be in a stronger position to thrive once the economy starts recovering. Retaining your core employees with years of expertise in your business or sector can play a crucial role in helping you navigate and best emerge from tough times.
For sectors facing skills shortages, including IT and engineering, we advise against downsizing unless absolutely necessary. It may be a gamble to assume that there are qualified temp or contract candidates available to replace those you've let go.
And don't be afraid to get creative with your workforce planning. In some cases, you can reduce your overhead and increase productivity by asking valued employees to work remotely, where feasible.
We know that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting many employees hard, and it may not be possible to give wage increases right now. So, aim for other ways to support staff this winter without committing to longer-term spending.
Advice from the latest Labour Market Insights research from Kent University includes developing a financial well-being policy. This can include one-off bonuses to cover winter fuel bills or interest-free crisis loans, among other measures.
Facing a recession, the temptation is for employers to cut training and development. But there’s an overwhelming case to take a long-term view.
People tend to stay in their roles longer if they feel they’re being invested in and given chances to develop and progress. Employers benefit too, with added productivity and expertise when teams can develop.
Training ties into upskilling, which is on the radar of many businesses. This is especially for companies with hard-to-fill vacancies who decide that recruiting internally is worth a shot.
According to a CIPD survey from mid-2022, the most popular option (with 41% of respondents) has been to upskill existing staff where possible. And, upskilling existing staff will be easier with a strong learning culture.
When you have vacancies to fill, handling recruitment in-house is not a valid way to cut costs during a recession. It’s a false economy.
When it really counts, you’re far more likely to be able to hire the right candidate quickly with a recruitment agency. You’ll also avoid the expensive price tag of making a bad hire.
Agencies like HR GO know what candidates are looking for and can pinpoint the right culture fit for an existing team. Plus, employers get the benefit of specialist recruitment agency tools, including:
Here’s a list of more business-savvy reasons to use a recruitment agency.
Surviving the recession, then recovering afterwards, will be central to every business’ agenda. When the economy does start to recover, which businesses will be on the front foot? Those who have planned ahead, and responded with appropriate changes.
And once the recession has passed? As an employer you’ll be more likely to still have your best talent if you can support them through turbulent times – and move forward as a team together.
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