How UK Companies Can Make Their Workforces More Sustainable in Light of Ongoing Labour Shortages

A skills shortage continues to loom over the UK. The nation is facing an extreme skill deficit in its labour market, with one study commissioned by the JPN demonstrating that 36% of the UK workforce believes that the lack of skilled workers is currently the biggest challenge for businesses. While the government is enacting initiatives such as a more in-depth review of the issue and the HPI Visa scheme, many fear it won’t be enough to overcome the predicted economic recession forecasted to hit by the end of the year. It’s therefore up to UK companies to make their workforces more sustainable in light of the ongoing labour shortages. Here are four helpful strategies to accomplish that in your own organisation

Rethink leadership

The influence of leaders on their company culture and employees cannot be overstated and must be recognised when dealing with workforce sustainability. In a 2020 Business and Management Review study, researchers found a close association between responsible leadership—the type of authority that develops an inclusive, virtuous culture—and employee retention, autonomous motivation, and the organisation’s overall performance. To be that kind of individual isn’t always intuitive, however. The current economic climate requires leaders to be resilient and agile, and it will help to leverage leadership coaching to fulfil those expectations. Dedicate time to refine executive approaches to attain a positive, lasting change in your workforce. This includes improving work engagement and career satisfaction, increasing positive impacts in attitude, coping, self-regulation, and well-being, and cultivating behaviour shifts related to leading, managing, and finding strategies.

Retain your older talent

It’s not the young and restless that is the main issue when it comes to the labour shortage. Research from the UK Parliament found that the biggest contributor to economic inactivity has been the spike in early retirement of citizens in the 50 to 64 age bracket. While it’s important not to inhibit those who have already decided to cease working early, you can target those who are near—but aren’t yet ready for—that transition and encourage them to stay in your company longer. Practise this by considering their age-related changes and addressing them, such as appointing a menopause specialist within your organisation to serve as an advocate in formulating and implementing necessary shifts in workplace policies. You can also stress your older employees’ relevancy by creating mentorship programmes that allow different generations in the workplace to learn from one another. Keep your older talent as long as possible to ensure your workforce’s sustainability and upskill your younger workers in the process.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Part of why would-be workers refrain from seeking employment is that a rigid 9 to 5 would keep them from fulfilling their other responsibilities, like caretaking. You can counter that by offering flexible work arrangements that allow them to decide their work setting and schedule. Research from the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that this initiative brings about concrete mental health benefits and increased job satisfaction. Let your talent decide what work arrangements would best suit them to procure their loyalty to your company.

Open up training opportunities

Sometimes the best way to confront the lack of skilled workers in the labour market is to invest time and resources in configuring those skilled workers. You can start with your current employees. Upskilling your existing workforce can have multiple benefits, like boosting morale and engagement—not to mention performance and productivity. Additionally, you can invite interns, apprentices, and those taking T Levels to work at your company and provide them with the training they need to become valuable assets. This will allow you to hire new and upcoming talent, upskill your current employees, and secure a robust and cohesive workforce in the long term.

The labour shortage is a complex and multifaceted problem. Leverage the above strategies to address the skills deficit effectively for your company.