How businesses can survive the impending talent crisis
By Ashley Carr, Managing Director, Neo PR
May 23 2019 - To say that the UK is filled with uncertainty at the moment would be an understatement. Brexit has imposed an unstable economy and left many businesses in the lurch as the outcome is continuously debated. In these situations, it is typical for those feeling the financial pinch to batten down the hatches, grit their teeth and wait for the storm to pass in the hope of more certainty. This can often mean a halt on active recruitment and a tightened marketing budget.
While this strategy sounds plausible, it doesn't set businesses up for survival in the long term and past the period of uncertainty. Unlike in any other time of economic uncertainty in the past 20 years, there is no latent potential workforce on the market ready to replace the people you lose. There is no one on the bench.
In the coming months, there are going to be a lot of surprised and failing employers that can't scale and will have to downsize as a result of losing people. While everyone is busy focussing on ROI, it will be those that focus on COI, the cost of inaction, that will come out on top after this dull trading period.
Cost of Inaction vs Return on Investment
The success of most areas of business can be measured by ROI. But what about COI? During difficult periods of economic and political instability, considering COI rather than ROI will help businesses gain a deeper understanding of what is at stake when standing still. Doing nothing could cost dearly; people will leave and unless action is taken, organisations may not be able to recover and find replacements for their lost employees. What would that cost be to your business? Could you survive?
When the economy rotates for the better, the cost of inaction will truly be felt. As businesses step into growth mode, there will be a perfect storm of having new orders, tenders and requests for services coming through the door just as employees start walking out.
Regardless of what happens with Brexit, businesses will fail if they don't work hard to retain the talent they have within the business. By not acting fast, it will be too late and there will already be an entrenched atmosphere where employees feel like they have had enough and once the uncertain period is over, they will want to go elsewhere. So how can businesses survive the impending talent crisis?
Marketing and PR isn't just an external activity reserved for gaining awareness in new markets or launching a product to prospects. There is certainly an increase in marketing the business towards new employees, but is anyone thinking about targeting those they currently have? It seems not. If businesses aren't leveraging the marketing message internally, employees can feel segregated from the message you are going to market with.
In order to become sticky for current employees, businesses need to make sure that everyone understands how good the business is. They need to share the highs and lows with the rest of the company and get the team excited about achievements, successes and new ventures. After all, without the team, there would be no business.
Companies that wish to keep their current talent need to think about how they can keep them engaged, excited and committed to the dream of the business - ensuring it's a place that employees will stick with when other organisations come out on the hunt for talent.
Create a consistent culture
The culture that an organisation presents on its website, social media and any other channel is too often different from the culture the team experiences internally. Unsurprisingly, this can create disparities and an unsettled workforce. The culture that the outside world sees should be the culture that a prospective client or prospective candidate meets when they come into the building. This happens naturally when the message that is dispersed externally is the same as what is spread internally.
If an organisation's culture is real and embodied throughout the organisation, then employees will be living and breathing it anyway. This should be seen through all of the marketing activities, all the way through to any interaction with the employees of that organisation.
PR is not just an outbound strategy for prospects. It is about attracting talent and keeping talent in your organisation. Those who understand this, as well as the COI, might just have a chance of surviving this mess. If you don't make the first steps towards survival, it will be your competitors.