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POST-COVID-19: BATTLE FOR BUILDING SERVICES TALENT SET TO INTENSIFY

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2020/04

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Discussing talent attraction in any industry or sector is highly contentious right now. With many businesses battling to get to grips with remote working, projects grinding to a halt and office doors closed, the idea of adding staff can feel like a pipedream.  

When the lockdown lifts, some sectors will experience a boost in candidate applications as people seek to return to work. For building services and facilities management, however, securing talent is set to become a lot trickier than the pre-COVID-19 days. 

Skills shortages have been a topic at the very heart of the building services and FM sector. Uncertainty caused by Brexit, concerns about new immigration rules leading to staff shortages, a retiring workforce and the threat of IR35 on the contingent workforce were just some of the challenges standing in the way of talent attraction. 

And while the spotlight will soon be honed on building services as people return to safe and clean workplaces in their droves, it doesn’t mean that finding good quality workers in this area will become any easier. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true. 

Stark Reality 

Currently, there are around 18 roles for every candidate in building services and FM. Considering this is a time when hiring has mostly been put on hold, the situation when businesses start looking to rehire staff they’ve let go, as well as take on new personnel, is bleak. With this in mind, companies are being advised to lock in talent now, at a time when furloughed staff may be exploring other options or those made redundant are preparing to re-enter the workplace. Of course, larger organisations with big budgets can continue hiring, but what about everyone else?

There’s no silver bullet for attracting and retaining talent, but now’s the time for employers to review talent pipelines and supply chains to ensure they’re robust enough to handle the additional demands of the post-COVID-19 landscape. Here, the PRS team has provided some tips to help you achieve this.

Building A Talent Pipeline 

A talent pipeline is a group of passive candidates you’ve successfully engaged who can fill future roles when you’re ready to hire. Here are some of the key elements that go into building one: 

  • Employer Branding. If your company has a good reputation, you’ve already got a decent head-start. Quick ways to give this a boost include creating an engaging careers page and asking employees to share their experiences, either through social media, blogs, company reviews, etc. 

  • Identify Passive Candidates. We’re obviously limited by the lockdown, making recruitment events impossible. However, social media can be useful in connecting you with potential future employees. Follow related industry hashtags and join any relevant groups and forums to engage people through discussions and mutual interests. Don’t forget the value of any Applicant Tracking System (ATS) you have in place to look for referred candidates, former employees, interns and candidates who reached the final stages of a previous hiring process. Highlight and save specific people so you can re-engage with them when you’re ready. 

  • Engage. Honesty is always the best policy when you make contact. Let them know that you’re not hiring right now but will be in the near future and want to connect with talented people. Be respectful, as you’re unlikely to know their current situation both professionally and personally right now. Put the ball in their court, so that they can determine the next steps. 

Reviewing Your Talent Supply Chain

Now’s the time to get your red pen out and start grading your suppliers on how they’ve handled themselves during the pandemic. Of course, we know it’s been a challenge for everyone, but you need to know that, should such a situation arise in the future, the right people are supporting you. Consider the following: 

  • Has their business been impacted in a way that affects service delivery? 

  • Do they have a Business Continuity Plan in place for the future that enables them to continue servicing you? 

  • What, if any, screening measures do they have in place to ensure candidates can start work with you straightaway? 

PRS continues to work closely with our clients to support their recruitment needs during this time. Whether you’re looking to boost your building services and FM talent pipeline for the future, need contractors right now for continuing essential projects or require dedicated consultancy to help you through this period, we can help. Complete the form below, and a member of our team will be in touch.

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