Are you winning the War for Talent?

6/19/2023 8 min read

We have been talking about the ‘War for Talent’ for some time, but in recent months evidence shows the labour market is showing little sign of loosening.

Towards the end of 2022 there was speculation that a recession in the UK in 2023 might lead to more people looking for jobs, and for those in work to be less likely to want to move because of the economic uncertainty.

With the UK economy performing better than expected, despite the tightening of monetary policy (making credit more expensive) and the spiralling cost of living, it looks like the battle lines have been even more clearly drawn and, in the War for Talent, it’s the talent that’s winning.


What is the War for Talent?

It’s one of those phrases that is being bandied about but what does it mean, and what is causing it?

The War for Talent refers to the competition among organisations to attract, recruit, and retain skilled and talented individuals. It arises from several factors, including the increasing demand for specialised skills and expertise, demographic shifts such as the aging workforce and a shrinking pool of available talent, advancements in technology creating new job roles, and globalisation leading to a more competitive business environment.


How does this impact your business? 

There is no question that the tight labour market is having an impact on growth and productivity across multiple economic sectors. To fuel post-pandemic recovery, many businesses are feeling pressured to offer attractive compensation packages, engaging work environments, and enticing perks to stand out from their competitors. Failing to navigate this battle can hinder growth, the ability to drive innovation, and result in talent gaps that impede long-term success.


How do you prepare for battle? 

You cannot win a war without a battle plan. The War for Talent emphasises the need for robust recruitment strategies and effective employer branding to appeal to potential candidates.

Sounds obvious? Well, it may do but we are seeing businesses of all shapes and sizes make mistakes in applying the fundamentals and instead of stepping back or asking for oversight or advice from an independent pair of eyes, they are panicking and making rash decisions.

The recruitment market has become very competitive, so what is the best strategy to find the right people to work for your organisation, and how should you set about keeping them?

Let’s start with the Three As of your pre-employment process:

Admin, Attraction, Assessment.



It’s critical to get the house in order before you enter the fray. Ensure the job description and personal profile is correct and reflects the type of person you want to attract. Review your Employee Value Proposition – what describes your business? This is important because it’s what you’re going to use to sell your business to potential recruits.

Have a recruitment plan in place and make sure you have the appropriate licences to employ the people you want.


How are you going to promote the job opportunity? Are you going to use an Agency, social media, traditional media, or job boards? With 48% of businesses claiming their top-quality hires have come from employee referrals consider sharing the vacancy with your staff and, after all, there is probably no greater ambassador for your business than the people who already work there.


This is the bit where things can often start to go wrong, and making sure your interviewers are properly trained and equipped is crucial. There are many different approaches to interview technique, and it often depends on the culture of the business. Agreeing the approach before you sit down with a candidate is important, because if you come across as disorganised or unprepared this will leave an impression on the interviewee – remember you are being interviewed too!

The job interview is a bit like a first date: both parties have things they want to say to impress, and both are checking each other out to see if it’s going to be a healthy relationship. You don’t want your prospects swiping right because you haven’t done your prep work properly.

Ask questions that shine a light on their competency and aptitude, but which also demonstrate your own culture and understanding of their aspirations.


The Probation Problem

Well done: you’ve followed your plan and identified the person you think is the best for the job and they have accepted the offer. Now, how do you make sure they stay with you?

At HR Now we have seen a significant increase in ‘probation failure’, where either the new recruit or the employer has realised the appointment is not the right fit.

With employers becoming increasingly desperate to fill roles, some of the pre-employment checks and steps above are being diluted or, worse, ignored altogether. If the recruitment process is not robust, or expectations (on both sides) are not honestly communicated at the outset, a likely outcome is that there will be a parting of the waves before the probation period is completed. So, employers need to make sure their process is as watertight as possible, it’s clearly explained, and it’s followed.

This is a serious issue, not least because it costs time and money, but also causes disruption within your organisation.

There are some very simple steps that can be followed to limit the likelihood of this happening beginning from the moment you make an offer, through the first day, weeks and months right up to the probation meeting when employer and employee have a chance to discuss what’s working and what isn’t.


The HR Now Employee Toolkit

At HR Now we have developed a toolkit to help employers avoid many of the common mistakes and answer the leading questions around recruitment and retention:

  • How do I find and hire good people in a tight labour market?
  • Why does new recruits don’t stay or fail probation?
  • How I deal with poor performance or persistent absence when legislation is against me?
  • What kind of contract is best: Zero hours, fixed term or permanent?
  • How do I motivate my people when I can’t afford big pay rises but don’t want to lose them? 
  • How do you deal with difficult, disruptive people?
  • How do I increase productivity and quality?
  • How can I ensure my managers have the right skills to get the best from their teams?

We’ll be holding a taster session at the Santander Work Cafe at Charing Cross on 5th July to talk about the first two questions: finding the right people and keeping them.

If the above sounds familiar in your organisation, why not come along to our taster session or, if you are unable to attend, you can sign up for the full training on 12th July or give us a call and we can get you back on the right path to victory in the War for Talent. Email for more details.