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Flexibility is top priority for staff recruitment and retention

'Powering the Powerhouse’ a new report from workforce management expert, Quinyx, recognises the challenge of recruiting and retaining essential staff in traditional blue collar/manual and elementary occupations and puts forward some recommendations for simple steps that employers can take to mitigate the problem. 


Manual workers include process, plant and machine operatives, whilst elementary occupations include service roles such as cleaning, catering and hospitality, administration and agriculture. These are a growing sector of the UK workforce and elementary occupations in particular are also more likely to be part-time workers or subject to zero hours contracts than the rest of the UK workforce.


Brexit will compound the problem with workforce recruitment and retention, due to a shrinking labour pool, with Quinyx reporting that healthcare is one of the most vulnerable industries. The company’s research revealed that skills shortages resulting from poor retention and recruitment of manual and elementary service workers result in an average drop in business growth of 9%, but in healthcare, hospitality and logistics businesses, the figure is 10%. As a result of Brexit, 22% of employers expect to lose 31% or more of their workforce.


Quinyx recommendations

Employers may feel there is not much they can do to mitigate these challenges; they certainly have no control over Brexit and many are not in a position to increase wages, which is the biggest single reason for these workers leaving. However, there are other levers that they could use to help to attract and retain manual and elementary service occupations in a more restricted labour market.


After low pay (32%), the three biggest reasons for workers leaving are unsocial hours (23%), lack of career progression (24%) and lack of flexibility (17%). Tackling these issues is within the power of any organisation. 


The Quinyx research found that 79% of workers don’t have the option to work under flexible conditions, however 86% of employers recognise the importance of flexibility for retaining these workers. Quinyx recommends using technology to offer greater flexibility or to help staff to navigate unsocial hours. 


Supporting workers in their progression up the career ladder can help to manage the talent pipeline for other sectors of the workforce. Upskilling and training staff is essential to improve their career progression, as is communicating and demonstrating the careers that are available. 


Flexibility is absolutely key to attracting, engaging and retaining workers, for instance, the capability and willingness to swap shift work or provide greater visibility over staffing schedules can make a big difference.


The Quinyx report also analyses the impact on the UK economy of various Brexit scenarios, comparing the impact if employers sit back and do nothing with a preferred scenario where employers take steps to improve their recruitment and retention of these important worker groups. It concluded that by taking this second approach UK employers could generate an additional £7.6 billion in economic output a year by 2024.


“We found that by reducing workforce churn, attracting more workers and creating a happier and more productive workforce, by 2024 UK businesses could expect to benefit from a greater number of manual and elementary service workers contributing to their business growth and therefore realise greater economic output.”


Click here to download the full report.