According to the latest “Global In-Demand Skills” report from Randstad Sourceright, competition for the top nine skills is reaching a frenzy. In some markets, the ratio of qualified candidates to job openings in cybersecurity, for example, is just two. With so few available talent to fill roles in areas such as AI, cloud computing, data science and others, employers face protracted waits and elevated wages for the foreseeable future.

Part of this difficulty comes from the fact that businesses have accelerated their digital skills needs as a result of the pandemic. A bigger culprit for this problem, however, is the structural labor market gap that has been growing for years. In fact, with the exception of blockchain professionals, most of the top in-demand skills listed in the report are the same ones companies needed five years ago. Skills such as data engineering, cybersecurity analysis, UX design and others have become even more sought-after during the pandemic.

This is troubling for many businesses in need of these skills because competition is more heated than ever. For instance, job postings for AI professionals nearly doubled from November 2020 to March of this year in the US. In the Netherlands, the third quarter saw a record number of vacancies, with 126 openings for every 100 unemployed people. And it appears that the scarcity issue will remain for some time, leading to significant challenges for talent acquisition professionals and their organizations. 

Some of the fallouts from the scarcity situation are rising wage growth and job quits. Salary growth for IT professionals in Asia has averaged more than 10% in a year’s time. In September, the number of people quitting their jobs in the US reached a historical high of 4.4 million people. All of this is happening as a result of workers feeling empowered to make changes to their life and career as part of the “Great Enlightenment” movement documented by Randstad’s Workmonitor research.

emphasizing non-monetary differentiators

With competition for talent having intensified, companies must learn how to differentiate themselves from others as ideal employers using incentives other than financial ones. While salaries and benefits will always be the most important criteria in a jobseeker’s decision to take a new role, competing on compensation is neither sustainable nor desirable. As the Randstad Employer Brand Research has found, other factors are also important in the decision-making process of job seekers. Considerations such as a good work-life balance and pleasant work environment — which has become important again as more employers require on-site attendance —  can also sway applicants to choose one job offer over another. 

So how can you make sure you come across as the most attractive employer when the talent you seek has multiple opportunities? A competitive pay package is critical, but Workmonitor research als revealed additional qualities most sought after by workers. Job flexibility, career growth, remote work options and others will likely strike a chord with most candidates. It’s critical to communicate your employer brand clearly before, during and after a jobseeker’s application journey. Here are three important considerations to ensure you have an effective attraction and retention strategy.

Nurture a sense of purpose and belonging.

Increasingly, talent wants a satisfying workplace experience, and many caught up in the Great Resignation are leaving their jobs to find it. For instance, according to the Economic Times, some workers are leaving due to a “disconnect” to their workplace. Lack of engagement in the workforce has always been a challenging issue, but it is becoming more alarming since the start of the pandemic. People are reassessing their lives and careers and realizing they want work that is meaningful and employers that are more empathetic.

Organizations that win the current war for talent are focusing on creating a sense of purpose for their people. According to McKinsey, employees who find their work meaningful improve performance by 33%, are 75% more committed to their organization and are 49% less likely to leave. How can you achieve this? 

Start by demonstrating the impact of every individual’s contribution: on the company’s performance, on their colleagues or on their own career goals. By demonstrating their work makes a difference — through rewards and recognition programs, leadership callouts or even internal communication highlights — companies can help elevate a sense of belonging and purpose. 

Create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Diversity, equality and inclusion are not just buzzwords that have the attention of corporate leaders for the moment. Research has shown that companies with a more diverse workforce tend to outperform their counterparts. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are also more appealing to employees and job seekers because they foster a sense of belonging.

Both employees and job applicants prefer a workplace that emphasizes equal opportunities and equal voices in their organizations, so make sure to assess and build on your current DE&I strategy and practices. Perennial best places to work are organizations that regularly add to their diverse and inclusive culture so make sure to communicate your company’s approach and practices as part of your employer brand-building. 

One other consideration for employers: release workplace diversity data. According to Bloomberg Law, more shareholders, customers and employees are asking for this information so your company may benefit by doing so.

Create more flexible arrangements for talent.

One of the key lessons learned from the pandemic is that organizations have learned to work in new and innovative ways. During lockdowns imposed throughout the pandemic, companies were able to use remote working and technology to overcome many of the challenges during this time. 

At the same time, the global workforce adapted to new conditions and also new schedules that not only benefited their employers but also their personal needs. In fact, Workmonitor data showed that 40% of those surveyed said having job flexibility to accommodate their personal lives is one of the most important factors driving their career choices. 

The ranks of companies with workplace policies that accommodate personal schedules are likely to grow, according to the US chairman of PwC. Tim Ryan told the New York Times that “you need to have multiple options” for remote work arrangements. Workmonitor research has also shown that the majority of workers surveyed prefer a hybrid schedule of some days in the workplace and others at home.

Whether flexibility means working from home or non-traditional hours — the CEO of IBM has said in the article that a 9-to-5 schedule is not as meaningful as getting the work done — employers that offer such flexibility are best positioned to attract and retain talent. Companies can only do this with regular surveying of their people and a willingness to make changes as needed.

Talent scarcity will likely continue in the months and years ahead. With greying demographics in many countries, a shortfall in the number of skilled graduates and rising demand for technical skills, the labor market won’t be able to reach an equilibrium any time soon. Companies that offer a compelling employee value proposition such as job flexibility, an inclusive workplace and a feeling of belonging will be better prepared for the growing skills gap ahead.  


Want to learn more about how to build an attractive brand during these times of scarcity? Download the 2021 Randstad Employer Brand Research report here