It is self-defeating for companies to respond to labour shortages and our stubbornly flat economy by cutting corners on recruitment.
Recruiters must more confidently advise companies that such an approach is short-sighted both financially and on inclusion – and probably means these same clients building long-term, exclusive relationships for advice and guidance, to save on buying twice.
And recruiters should redouble efforts to make sure these under-pressure client companies realise that recruitment is a complex service, not a tin of beans that can be commodified.
People have choices, and making a difference on EDI or skills development takes time and effort.
Businesses face record recruitment difficulties
There’s a perfect storm brewing in the UK recruitment market
Is it time to re-think the recruitment process?
Clients should look to the contemporary staffing story of NHS, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, as a warning.
Last week the NHS published its first ever NHS Workforce Plan because of escalating projected demand for its services and lack of labour supply.
Yet the framework rates for agencies remain frozen since 2016 despite labour shortages which our data puts at 68,000 empty vacancies for nurses today.
In fact, it is little surprise our latest Report on Jobs data showed a 35th month of successive growth in vacancies in healthcare.
The result? Under-pressure NHS trusts forced to pay over the odds for off-framework workers.
This approach also hampers some of the longer-term innovation that clients need such as outreach programmes to improve EDI.
But I see signs of hope for recruiters and their clients after travelling around the country to attend our member forums.
Many recruiters are succeeding in convincing some clients to take the high road by selling what they do as a professional service – which it is – and not allowing clients to treat them, perhaps just by habit or convention, as a transaction.
And you know what? These clients get it that in a labour market as tight as the one we are likely to have for the next decade, it is the only way to hire well.
This is how clients should deploy recruiters to get ahead of the competition.
I had to lay it on the line with recruiters at our RECLIVE23 conference this week and told them they need to act more confident, tech savvy and EDI embracing to help clients.
Recruiters saying ‘no’ to business that boosts their top line but not their bottom line is a brave choice, but it is right one that many recruiters are taking, which is especially helpful to them when interest rates are up and struggling clients may use recruiters to access inexpensive credit.
In whatever business you manage, walking away from bad business underpins the value you place on your skills and service.
We are working on a pioneering project to help recruiters embrace technology with labour shortages caused by an ageing population plus the after-effects of the pandemic and Brexit.
Clients stand to benefit hugely if recruiters get their tech strategy right to help deal with talent more scarce in this decade than in any of the previous four.
Clients should take advantage of recruiters diversifying into flanking markets such as training or apprenticeships and using more tech.
This year we are developing new tools designed to help recruiters on EDI.
The case recruiters will make to clients is that EDI is essential to make their business more profitable, engaging and successful.
After all, the recruitment industry sits at the heart of social mobility, focusing on areas including the progression of low-paid workers, disability employment, older workers and women in the workplace.
Neil Carberry is CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation