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Hard to Fill Vacancies: Decisions Based on Data

Have you found it difficult to recruit good-quality candidates lately? You are certainly not alone in your recruitment woes; in fact, the data below provides reasons for your troubles:

  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 75.8%
  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%
  • The number of vacancies in January to March 2023 was 1,105,000, which is a decrease of 47,000 from October to December 2022
  • 57% of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, and 29% anticipate significant problems in filling hard-to-fill vacancies over the next six months.

There is also uncertainty in the economy which invariably is having an impact in people’s decision-making. The data provided by the National Office for Statistics (ONS) and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) highlight high employment rates and low unemployment which suggests that for employers it is a difficult time to be recruiting – I’m sure however you did not need the figures to know that.

Here at ViewHR, we want to help you, as best we can, to recruit those hard-to-fill vacancies. To help you, we have put together a three-part blog series that will provide you with the needed tools so your organisation can recruit in this difficult labour market. The blog series will review three topics on the theme of ‘Hard to fill Vacancies’:

(1) decisions based on data,

(2) recruitment processes, and

(3) employer branding.

The blogs will be released weekly so keep an eye out or sign up here to receive our Blogs directly to your email!

Decisions based on data

So you are trying to find a solution to your hard-to-fill vacancy issue, and you have no idea what to do; nothing you have tried is working. In a figurative sense, you may be operating with a blindfold. In other departments, marketing, finance, sales, and operations we often use data to back up our decisions, to effectively ‘see’. Why should your HR operation be any different?

Before you make decisions on solutions regarding recruitment you should gather data; in effect removing the blindfold.

‘Good decision-making is achieved through critical thinking and drawing on the best available evidence. Evidence-based practice leads to decisions and actions that are more likely to have the desired effect and are less reliant on anecdotes, received wisdom and personal experience’.

The critical thinking process begins with identifying an issue, and raising a question: why is the organisation not able to fill our vacancies? Then, employers should look to gather data that answers that question. What information can be collected and how does it help?

Recruitment Data

Employers and people professionals should gather information regarding their recruitment processes. Data points could include for example:

  • Time from request to interview (days)
  • Time from candidate application to unconditional offer (days)
  • Success rates
  • Cost per recruitment project
  • Number of vacancies
  • Number of candidates
  • Number of shortlisted candidates
  • Number of candidates withdrawing and time to withdraw.
  • Number of interviewed candidates

By gathering this data employers will start to see trends and a picture emerging. The evidence collected will help you analyse which vacancies are more successful in regard to candidate numbers, shortlisted individuals, and individuals who reported to interview; this data can be compared with the length of time the process took. If not many candidates are being shortlisted but there are high numbers of applicants, there may be an issue in skill levels or the person specification may need to be updated. Potentially the recruitment process is too long as candidates are withdrawing before the process is complete.

Employee Data

Employers should also gather information regarding their staff, as this will help to determine why individuals are leaving and why they are staying. This information can be used to market the business or it can aid to resolve internal issues which may increase retention. Data points could include for example:

  • Data from staff satisfaction surveys
  • Data from exit interviews
  • Staff turnover (by department)
  • Sickness absence information
  • Appraisal feedback
  • Equality and diversity data
  • Date/Month of Resignation

Positive data gathered from satisfaction surveys could be used in marketing but will also highlight why people stay with the organisation. Exit interviews will do the opposite, they will highlight trends in why people are leaving; once known these can be addressed and hopefully improve the retention rates. Sickness absence information (combined with resignation data) can determine if sickness is a factor in losing staff and which department sees the highest rates.

Market Data

Organisations do not operate within a vacuum. They instead are a part of an environment (macro or micro) that can have an influential impact on the business. It is important therefore that employers know what is happening around them, and adjust, this may help with filling vacancies. Possible data points could include:

  • Salary benchmarking
  • Rewards and benefits offered by competitors
  • Inflation rates
  • Labour market information
  • Recruitment processes of other organisations

Salary benchmarking is vitally important for an organisation, it will help to determine if you are market leaders for salary, or trailing behind; this may determine why you are finding it hard to fill your vacancy. Again, potentially other businesses are offering better rewards or they have quicker and easier recruitment processes that draw candidates to them. By understanding the labour market organisations are able to adjust their practices to suit their environment.

Employers should approach hard-to-fill vacancies with a critical mindset, using a combination of recruitment, employee, and market data to form decisions. By analysing the data organisations will be able to see their strengths, weaknesses, and areas to improve upon; moreover, when employers have a good grasp on employee issues, they are in a better position to resolve problems and retain staff. The CIPD report that ‘organisations are increasingly offering better pay and/or benefits to address recruitment difficulties (36%, up from 29% last year) and this is now the most common response to retention difficulties’ (2022: 54%; 2021: 32%’. After reviewing the data for your organisation, you will be in a position to determine if you need to do the same or, actually your recruitment process is inefficient and therefore you are losing candidates.

If you need ViewHR to gather data for you, be that internally or externally we would be happy to help. Our qualified people professionals are able to gather, analyse, present and interpret data to ensure your business makes sound, tailor-made decisions to help you fill those hard-to-fill vacancies.

Our next topic for discussion is recruitment processes. We will look to ensure you are doing everything you can to make the recruitment process as smooth and effective as possible.