IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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UK's talent shortage inspires innovative workforce solutions
Fri, 29th Mar 2024

The most recent government figures have indicated that approximately 9.25 million individuals aged between 16 and 64 years are currently not part of the UK's workforce, thereby revealing the enormity of the talent deficit that businesses are grappling with. This talent shortage has opened the way for business innovation as companies aim to attract and retain skilled employees to bridge the gap.

Liam McNeill, Group Vice President, EMEA at UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, workforce management and culture solutions, suggests companies can leverage innovation to propel effective combat against staffing shortfalls. Such innovation implies enhancing the overall quality of development and training offered to not just allure skilled workers but also facilitate skill acquisition in extant employees.

McNeill states, “The UK workforce has faced a period of sustained pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many older employees were pushed into early retirement, with no intention of ever returning to work, while the number of workers on long-term sick leave remains at a record level. In cases where there simply aren’t enough staff available to fill crucial vacancies, businesses should turn to automation to plug workforce gaps.”

McNeill illustrates how automation in labour, for instance, through labour planning technology can optimise the management of shift patterns, thus relieving managers of the manual task. Besides making staff allocation more efficient, it also enables businesses to sustain output levels without necessarily expanding their workforce. Importantly, this technology takes into account the preferences of employees, thus ensuring workers are allotted shifts that align with their requirements.

He further advocated for companies to inculcate a culture of continuous learning to counter labour shortages. By offering access to a centralised resource hub for training, employees can proactively seek opportunities for professional growth. Particularly, customising these training resources as per individual needs can empower employees to take up senior roles. McNeill believes that building such a learning culture will lead to better employee retention and engagement.

McNeill asserts, “Another way to improve employee experience and encourage retention is by granting staff the autonomy to swap shifts, book time off and pick up additional shifts through a personalised HR portal. Allowing workers to perform simple tasks without having to seek permission from managers instils a sense of trust across the organisation, as employees have more of a say over when they work and how often they work.”

Overall, McNeill emphasises that during this prolonged period of staff shortages, flexibility and open-mindedness will determine the profitability of a business. With options for immediate replacements becoming rarer, businesses need to focus on implementing effective strategies that encourage staff retention.