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Why are employers struggling to recruit and retain?

View profile for Gillian Markland
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Why are employers struggling to recruit and retain?

At present, there is an unprecedented shortage of workers, and as a result employers are struggling to keep up with the demand of the economy. The two leading reasons for this shortage are Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

These events, both had a significant impact on the economy, and both happened almost simultaneously. The economy and employers were therefore, undoubtably, going to struggle to navigate through such an unprecedented time.

During the pandemic, many employers changed their business models, with many employers adopting hybrid working patterns. Many employees were made redundant during the pandemic, or once returned to work from furlough needed retraining. Some employees will have made the decision to leave their employment due to the demand placed on parents during the pandemic with home-schooling, with some of those choosing to change their work life balance and not return to employment.

Brexit did not come as a shock to the world, however coinciding with the pandemic meant those sectors that relied on overseas workers faced a significant challenge, as they had a smaller and more limited pool of selection.

So how can we as employers retain and recruit employees?

Improve working conditions

Pay is not the most important factor for many employees, but rather their working environment. Creating safe systems of work, sufficient breaks and flexibility will help your employees feel valued and lead to better retention rates.

Improve pay / reviewing Terms and Conditions

This may be obvious, but not as simple as it sounds giving the increasing cost of living and the effect this is also having on businesses. However, setting targets and structured bonus schemes will give the employees the incentive to perform well and in turn their improved performance will benefit the business.


When employers invest in employees, it makes employees more likely to stay as they feel supported by their employers, it also leads to highly motivated staff and improves employee’s quality of work which in turn increases productivity. However, employers should be mindful of entering into a training agreement with employees that they choose to support. This enables employers to recover the training costs in the event that one of the employees unexpectedly leaves the company.    

What does the future look like?

The number of employees on payroll is already edging back to pre-pandemic levels at just under 30 million. However, this is still around half a million below pre-pandemic employment levels.

Low employment levels particularly in low paid jobs is down to;

  • Shortage of skills;
  • A desire to do these jobs; and
  • Pay and conditions

It is arguable that pay and conditions is the main reason for the shortages, rather than a shortage of employees to do the work.

There is no quick fix. The pandemic has given employers a new perspective on flexibility and working remotely. Post-Brexit employers have had to change the way they recruit, as they have smaller pools to select from.

These events will have a long-term impact on the UK labour market, meaning businesses and employers will need to adapt and find new strategies to recruit and retain employees.

If you are an employer and would like any assistance or advice, please get in touch.


Our articles are intended for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We are always very happy to discuss any plans, issues or concerns you may have and to clarify how we might be able to help. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.