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Invest in your talent before the post-Brexit apocalypse

Invest in your talent before the post-Brexit apocalypse

It seems being young is enough grounds for unhappiness these days. A new study by the Princes Trust showed three in five young Britons regularly feel stressed about work and money – with a significant proportion of 16-25 year olds admitting to a lack of confidence, both in themselves and in their futures.  

And with Brexit only a year away, the uncertainty surrounding the jobs market is yet another item to add to the list of millennial woes. 

But the direction the jobs market is currently headed in, young workers will most likely have their pick of the crop in years to come – it’s organisations that need to wake up.

The UK jobs market is dangerously close to full employment, which is great for young professionals starting out, but not so great for organisations relying on fresh talent to keep them competitive.

Most industries are already experiencing a skills shortage, and this will only continue to worsen. In one year’s time it will be too late - here’s why your organisation needs to start finding fresh talent now:

The state of the UK workforce.

The number of people in work has reached a record high of 32.2 million – which equates to just over three quarters of people between 16 and 64 years old – new figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed. Pair this with an all-time unemployment low of 4.2% - the lowest since 1975.

And there are still plenty of job vacancies on offer - 815,000 to be precise, which is close to December’s record high and almost 50,000 more than this time last year.

But the number of young job-seekers is diminishing - and fast. While more than half a million 16-24 year olds are currently unemployed (most of which are in education), this figure is 12% lower than it was a year ago.

Brace yourselves for a massive talent shortage.

The Brexit decision will soon be celebrating its second birthday – and while the dust has now well and truly settled, a thick fog of uncertainty still hangs over the UK jobs market.

But with young talent in short supply - coupled with a significant chunk of older generations set to leave the workforce within the next 18 months to two years - it seems more than likely that a major skills shortage is looming over our heads. 

Sure, it’s tempting to stay put and wait for Brexit to pass before investing in fresh talent, but by that point it will be too late.

In a year’s time, our jobs market will be facing the full impact of a brain drain, and with innovative, free-thinking young talent in short supply, organisations will struggle to sharpen their competitive edge. 

Now is the time to start investing in new talent. And taking into account the time it takes for new employees to live up to their full productivity potential - roughly six to nine months - in this case, time truly is money.

On a more personal note, we’ve seen many of our clients revive their junior talent programmes on both a local and global basis over the last 18 months to start filling the pipeline with fresh talent.

Keep your employees engaged – or lose them.  

Employee engagement is one of the biggest barriers organisations are up against. The single biggest obstacle facing HR Directors this year is employee engagement, according to a recent survey. 

For organisations that are relying on their existing teams to see them through the tremulous times ahead, making an active effort to retain staff is essential. 

An office pool table and the occasional round of pizza and drinks might have a temporary impact on employee morale, but organisations often forget that engagement isn’t an action – it’s an emotion. And it can’t be forced.

You need your people to buy into your brand, and to do this, you’ll need to narrow in on your organisation’s core identity – your purpose. This purpose explains why you exist and how you’re impacting society.

Unlike vision and values, which in most cases have nothing to do with your people’s personal identity or beliefs, purpose forms an emotional connection with your employees. And once it’s established, it will infiltrate every aspect of your organisation, including your employer brand.

Six in 10 millennials admit that a “sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer”; and employees that are aligned with their company's identity perform higher on key business performance metrics than employees who are less aligned.

This purpose could also ignite you to revaluate your existing organisational structure. Younger workers are hungry for new experiences at work – they’re actively looking to develop their skills and grow – so, don’t leave them on the side-lines. Your organisation could boost engagement by investing in a flatter structure that does away with strict hierarchies and encourages collaboration and agility. This way everyone stays engaged and involved – regardless of their position within your organisation. 

It’s also worth reviewing your current leadership development initiatives, such as high-potential programmes. Developing and fast-tracking the skills of young talent encourages engagement and retention in the mid-level tier. 

While Brexit has become synonymous with uncertainty, with a skills shortage on its way, one thing has become abundantly clear: if you don’t engage your employees, present and future, you will not have the talent to succeed in the new world of work. 

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