8 Challenges Faced By Employers (And How To Face Them Head On)

Recruiting the best staff to your company is always going to be a top priority for you as an employer, whether you are a small and medium enterprise or part of a large, corporate firm. It sounds simple doesn’t it: You get job vacancies in your company, you advertise for new staff, you recruit the staff and then they come to work for you and remain with the company, happily ever after. Problem solved – in theory, that is.

We all know it is not quite as easy as all that, though, don’t we. The UK workforce, the setup of different companies, the changes in work culture, the introduction of new initiatives by the government of the day; all of these factors, and more, can contribute to the challenges for the employer in both the recruitment of staff and the retention of staff.

So, what are the top challenges facing employers today? Perhaps you can even think of other challenges to add to the list with regards to your own company but these are just a few. Let’s take a look at those challenges – and let’s also look at how those challenges could be tackled. In previous blog posts, we’ve addressed some of these challenges at length so we’ll be linking back to some of those posts for further reading. The following challenges are listed in no particular order.

  • Employer Challenges – Number 1: A vacancy arises within your company and after advertising it, you receive hundreds of CVs and completed applications…from completely unsuitable candidates.
  • Employer Challenges – Number 2: Completely the opposite to challenge number 1. You get a vacancy within your company, advertise it and you receive hardly any applications to fill the position at all.
  • Employer Challenges – Number 3: You think you have found the perfect person to fill a role within your company but then you check out their social media presence and start to wonder if the candidate if suitable after all.
  • Employer Challenges – Number 4: How to get your hands on the best young talent out there when there are so many other companies out there trying to chase down the same staff you are.
  • Employer Challenges – Number 5: How to retain that fabulous young talent once you’ve got it. It’s one thing tempting the United Kingdom’s best bright young thing to your company in the first place but what are you going to do to harness that and make sure those people want to stay around for a while?
  • Employer Challenges – Number 6: How to keep productivity high within your company. Are all of your staff working at optimum levels to drive your company forward and, if so, how do you encourage them to keep up that momentum? How do you get the most from your employees?
  • Employer Challenges – Number 7: How to improve employee morale. What is the mood like within your workplace? Is your team of staff motivated and happy or is your staff turnover and staff sickness level high?
  • Employer Challenges – Number 8: Encouraging women to apply for your vacancies. This is a challenge that isn’t faced by all employers – obviously it depends on the type of company you are working with and the types of job vacancies that might arise. However, some firms struggle to encourage women to apply for top posts within their company so we will take a look at this challenge, as well.

As I said above, you might well be reading this and thinking you could easily add a whole host of other employer challenges to this list but as E4S focus on trying to match young school leavers, students and graduates with employers like you, we are focussing on the recruitment of these people.

Employer Challenges – Number 1: A Pile Of Unsuitable Applications And CVs

As an employer, the chances are this has happened to you scores of times when you have advertised job vacancies within your company. The advert goes out and then all of sudden, you are drowning in a sea of CVs and applications. Whilst this might seem like the perfect solution, you can become disheartened very quickly as you sift through each application form, CV and / or covering letter, only to find each one relatively useless.

Yes, your candidates might be super enthusiastic in their applications, which is great, but maybe, for your particular job vacancy, enthusiasm is not quite enough. You start to wonder, “Did anyone even read this job advert?”

Well this is where you might want to take a look at the information that has gone into the job advert. Because as well as unsuitable applicants for vacant positions, another challenge faced by employers is getting an effective job advert out there – one that not only attracts lots of applicants but attracts lots of suitable applicants. What a luxury it would be to have the headache of trying to choose between a handful of fantastic, keen young people looking to work for your company.

Writing for different audiences and different purposes is a skill that not all of us has and, if you think this is you, why not get someone else within your company to either write the job advert for you, give you some pointers or at the very least, proofread what you have written. And if you really are wondering where on earth to begin with the whole process of writing your job advert, take a look at these E4S tips about how to write a great job ad so that it’s tailored towards the people you want to attract to work in your company.

Employer Challenges – Number 2: Tumbleweed. Your job advert falls flat and fails to attract any applications.

There can be a number of reasons for why your job advert has attracted zero or hardly any applications:

  • The nature of your company mean jobs are difficult to fill because those jobs are seen as unattractive.
  • Perhaps jobs vacancies are difficult to fill because your company is seen as dull and unattractive.
  • Jobs with your company are difficult to fill because there is a skills shortage in the field that you operate in.
  • And / or we could shoot back up to the solution offered in number 1 – perhaps you might need to look at how you are writing those job adverts and presenting the firm.

Recruiting new staff and advertising your job vacancies can be a time where you can sit back and really have a good look at how your company is seen by school leavers, students and graduates. After all, they are the people you are trying to attract. If they see your company as a bit dull, they’re not going to apply for your vacancies and you could be missing out on the best talent.

If you are struggling to find young people with the relevant experience or qualifications to fill your traditionally difficult to fill vacancies, some employers remedy this by introducing apprenticeships or school leaver programmes as part of your company recruitment strategy. This means you can train young people up to the standards you need them to be at. Internships or work experience programmes could also be an option where students are given a taster of what it is like to work at your company.

Employer Challenges – Number 3: The Social Media Profiles

To peek or not to peek, that is the question. And if you are going to have a little delve into the social media presence of your candidates, do you do it before they reach the interview stage or afterwards?

More and more employers are looking at the social media presence of potential candidates, these days, and it’s down to you to decide where you draw the line between someone coming to work for you and not.

This will depend on the nature of your company. These days, students and school leavers are more savvy about what they allow to be public on social media but for some roles, there could be more room for leeway where you can perhaps more relaxed about what potential candidates are choosing to share.

Employer Challenges – Number 4: Getting Your Hands On The Best Young Talent

You are in competition with all the other companies out there who are looking to get their hands on the best of the United Kingdom’s young talent, so how do you get in there, ahead of the rest. This can be a particular challenge for SMEs who might be in competition with the larger corporations.

If you are reading this article, there is a pretty good chance you are interested in employing young people – after all, getting young people into employment is what we focus on at E4S.

Offering jobs to students during the holidays or on a long term basis at evenings and weekends can be a good way to spot talent early. These days, a lot of students choose to stay on with companies they have worked with during their time at university once they have graduated. If you can offer quality staff development and promotion, for example, you might be able to persuade your former star student worker to stick around.

And again, how are the students and school leavers viewing your company? When you place your adverts for job vacancies are you appealing to them as a fun, forward thinking company to work for, or do you look a bit stuck in your ways as a company? Think about different ways to promote your vacancies – we’ve addressed this in a previous blog post – and add videos and testimonials of all the great young staff you have working for you. If you want to attract young talent, then you need to look young and exciting as a company.

Advertising your job vacancies on E4S is a great start because we have so many students, school leavers and graduates visiting the site on a daily basis. E4S is the most visited website specialising in undergraduate jobs and you can read more about this on our About Us page.

Employer Challenges – Number 5: Keeping Hold Of That Bright Young Talent

So you have gone to all that trouble to write a great job ad and you have promoted it in all the best ways possible to attract that bright young talent. Your labours have paid off and you’ve bagged yourself what you believe to be the perfect person or people for the roles. I’ve written in the past about the job for life being a thing of the past, with more and more employees feeling more confident about hopping from job to job but there are a number of strategies you can implement within your company that could see your new star remaining with your company for the longer term and driving the firm forward.

Small & Medium Enterprises – Traditionally, small and medium enterprises have faced the bigger challenges with staff retention because there is sometimes limited room for growth. However, SMEs can adopt a strategies to make sure their staff stick around, including a celebration of the fact that you are an SME. If you are an SME and are looking for recruitment ideas and staff retention strategies, take a look at some of these tips from a previous article.

Staff Holidays – What is the mood in your company when it comes to taking time off work? Is there a culture of everyone remaining glued to their desk throughout lunch hours and breaks, feeling the need to keep up with demanding workload? Are all of your staff taking the holidays they are entitled to? As I said in a previous article, rather than increasing productivity in the workplace, a culture where staff feel they need to be in work at all times can actually be counter productive and people are more likely to apply for other roles if they feel undervalued and tired all the time.

There are lots of reasons why staff don’t take breaks or the time of that they are entitled to and it’s an increasing problem in the UK. You could improve your staff retention by addressing the work life culture within your company.

Staff Development – Making young staff feel like a valued part of the company, whether they are doing part time student jobs or they are school leavers, is a great way to make sure they stay around for longer. If you have in house training and opportunities for more responsibility within the company, involve your younger staff in this, too. Where appropriate, the implementation of apprenticeships could be a good way to apply structure to this and get some help with funding, in the process.

Employer Challenges – Number 6: How To Keep Productivity High Amongst Employees

How do you go about making sure all your staff are working to the best of their ability and therefore keeping productivity high within your company? This is just another of the challenges faced by employers.

Well, we can go back to your company culture, here, with regards to staff taking time off. Ensuring that all your staff take a break when they are entitled to one and also making sure they use their full holiday entitlement means they return to their desk or workstation feeling refreshed. People who have taken a break also often have new ideas which can really benefit your company.

Staff incentives are also a good way to keep productivity high within the company. Again, if you are employing students just on a part time or temporary basis, you could also involve them in your incentive schemes, too, so that they feel a sense of belonging within your company. Apart from this being good experience of the workplace for young people, you might also find, in the future, that they stay with you on a more permanent, full time basis.

Employer Challenges – Number 7: How To Keep Staff Morale High

Employers often state staff morale this as one of the challenges of their job. And how do you keep staff morale high so that they enjoy coming into work every day or for every shift? Again, it depends on the type of company you are as to the details of what you might be able to do to improve staff morale but one thing is for sure, if your staff are buoyant and happy, then your staff retention is going to be much higher.

So what can you do? This is a similar employer challenge to those mentioned above. The culture and atmosphere of your workplace is likely to be the determining factor that affects staff morale.

Are you approachable as an employer? A good relationship between management and staff can do wonders for morale. Staff who feel valued for what they do for the company are more likely to remain with your company.

One way to do this is by offering employer perks. There are lots of different perks employers offer to boost staff morale and staff wellbeing and these are all great not just for staff retention but also for attracting staff to apply for your vacancies in the first place. And the best thing about offering employer perks is you don’t have to be a huge multinational corporation that can afford hotel breaks of high-tech gyms in the workplace. A little bit of imagination and companies of all sizes can offer quirky perks that also attract the attention of students and young people. Here are a few ideas for you if you missed our last article on this subject.

Employer Challenges – Number 8: Attracting Women To Your Posts

Yes, this depends on the nature of your company but if you are company specialising in mechanical engineering, for example, chances are you are struggling to attract women to apply for your roles. This is a huge problem facing the UK at the moment and one the government is continually trying to address.

Some jobs and professions are not seen as traditionally female roles, and for to jobs in any sector, there is a struggle to find women with the drive and ambition to reach those positions. There are lots of reasons for these issues, discussed in this article, recently. For solutions to this problem, it might well take you, as an employer, to take the initiative in the beginning and, for those roles that are seen as traditionally male roles, actively try to attract females into them.

Again, apprenticeships are a good option here. If you have female staff already in one of those roles, perhaps see if they can be a type of ambassador for the role to encourage more females.

So, these are just seven of the challenges facing employers today. As I said above, you can no doubt list a few more than these. But, if you do want to try to reduce some of those challenges, you can make a start by registering with E4S and posting your job vacancies with us. Your first step in attracting students and school leavers into your current vacancies.

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