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Welsh businesses severely impacted from the ‘great resignation’

With job vacancies in the UK reaching a record high, new research from Grant Thornton UK LLP finds that the ‘great resignation’ is severely impacting the mid-market.

Of the mid-sized businesses in Wales surveyed for the firm’s latest Business Outlook Tracker, more than half (54%) are experiencing unusually high attrition rates – with more people leaving their business than normal.

But businesses are not just losing people, they are also finding it difficult to attract new talent. Many of the region’s firms are struggling to recruit for additional new roles to support their growth (60%) and to replace the talent being lost (44%).

Amidst the ongoing battle for talent, many mid-sized businesses are doing everything they can to both attract new people and retain existing employees. Half (50%) confirmed that they are offering pay rises or bonuses to help retain their existing people and many (40%) are offering higher salaries for new roles.

Effectively competing in the talent market also requires looking beyond just salary, with jobseekers increasingly taking the wider employee offering into consideration. The research finds that the mid-market is responding to this, with a nearly half (48%) offering flexible working opportunities as standard and 52% are currently reviewing their employee benefits package to make it more competitive.

Many businesses in Wales are also willing to adopt innovative new working styles in a bid for talent. Almost half (48%) said they would be likely to trial a four-day working week, in line with the current pilot in the UK, in their business.

Attracting and retaining the necessary skills is an ongoing challenge and many businesses are now looking to government for support. Nearly one third (32%) said incentives for employers to invest in skills attraction and development should be a top priority for policymakers.

Alistair Wardell, partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP and head of its restructuring team in the South of England and Wales, said: “With job vacancies reaching record highs in November, the ‘Great Resignation’ has made the fight for talent amongst organisations fierce. As our research shows, mid-sized businesses in Wales are doing all they can to attract new people but the last two years have had a significant impact on what people prioritise, resulting in some re-thinking their career path or role. This has led to many companies experiencing unusually high staff turnover rates and facing a recruitment struggle.

“The rise in hybrid working has allowed people to achieve a better work-life balance, while still providing the opportunity to head into the office for collaboration and human connection. Employers who continue to offer this flexibility will be much better placed than those who don’t. The fundamental change to ways of working also means that it’s vital for organisations to ensure they have effective people managers – as the old adage that people leave their manager, not their employer, is still often the case.

“Today’s job seekers consider a much broader picture when deciding where to work, and a company’s overall employer brand and offering has never been more important. People are placing much more emphasis on aspects of the employee proposition such as the long-term development opportunities, the workplace culture, an employer’s focus on wellbeing as well as inclusion and diversity. At Grant Thornton, our employee benefits team are seeing this first hand, as businesses are looking ever more closely at what people want from their work and how a firm’s benefits package can be tailored to unlock its full value and be reframed around what matters to their people.

“A business’ success ultimately hinges on its people and with the job market highly competitive, looking beyond the normal recruitment pathways is crucial. Businesses should be challenging themselves to consider whether it’s possible to recruit from a wider talent pool or to develop and retrain their existing people into new roles to fill potential skills gaps. Apprenticeships, for example, can be a very effective way of achieving both goals, while also increasing diversity within an organisation.”