Does your workforce reflect the workforce you want?

Recruiting the Right Workforce for your Business

I have recently been talking to a number of business clients who are struggling to find good quality staff to fulfil roles within their business. When they are able to find someone to fill the role they are experiencing difficulties in retaining staff and with staff reliability, especially in good weather!

My question for these businesses who are struggling to get good quality staff is; if your current workforce or employment strategy is not working then why do you continue to do the same thing?
We are all guilty of sticking with what is comfortable and what we know but you are not going to get different results from the same old approach!

In the course of considering the issue for my clients I have come up with some ideas to get you thinking about it and considering new ways to approach the problem.

1. Think of your recruitment campaign as a marketing campaign

If you want to change the type of candidates you attract to work in your business I believe you need a strategy to do so and this needs to start with purposefully marketing to the type of person you want to attract to the role.

If you want to attract loyal staff who are more likely to stay with you for the long haul, then you need to think about who they are and how to attract them to apply for your vacancies.

How much time do you spend strategising and picturing the right characteristics or work ethics?

Do you actively target or market to them?

2. Look at the great staff you already have

Do you know who has been your most successful recruit in recent years? If not, take some time to identify them and explore the following questions to try to find the ‘special sauce’;

• Why have they been successful?
• What has helped them to be successful and gel with the rest of the team?
• How long did it take before they became a part of the team?
• Why are they a great member of staff?
• How can you replicate this?

Consider the answers and put them into your recruitment strategy.

3. Discrimination

Clearly any strategy or purposeful approach that you take has to be in compliance with the law and therefore you have to be careful not to discriminate, and certainly in order to attract good people you need to be open minded.

Ensure that anyone who is involved in recruitment or marketing your vacancies has had equality and diversity training and understands the requirements of the Equality Act.

4. Work on your Team Spirit

The key to making any change to your workforce or recruitment strategy work is to create a team where all staff are equally invested and enjoy working together. This way they are less likely to ‘drop’ their colleagues in the deep end by failing to show up or pull their weight when they are at work.

As humans we tend to stick with what we know and are attracted to people who are like us, therefore consider how you set up your shifts and try to get people who get on, have similar interests and who enjoy working with one another together on a regular basis.

It is surprising the number of managers who will not consider this when preparing rota’s and it is such an easy, and free, step to take to make the work environment better.

Those who start working for you will be more likely to stay if they feel like they are part of a community and one in which they are accepted.

We all know that B&Q actively recruited retired or semi-retired people to work in their stores, and this has been very successful. B&Q get skilled and experienced staff and the staff get to work with like-minded people whom they share common interests and remain in employment much later than they may have done otherwise.

In Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park there is a quick serve restaurant where, when I visited a few years ago, all of the staff working on a counter/shift were all of retirement age or older. It was notable that a decision had clearly been made to rota those employees of a certain age together, and in my view this would likely to work well in growing the sense of team work and camaraderie.

5. Case Study = Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry on the Isle of Wight is a good example of the challenge of;

1) getting staff in the first place and

2) importantly getting good staff who will turn up to work and stick around.

The issues for employers as I see them are:

• Minimum wage roles
• Hourly rate / zero-hour contracts
• Often seasonal peaks
• Customer facing
• Shift work
• Long hours
• Lots of competition – plenty of employers offering the same thing

The result is those staff who traditionally work in this industry are very transient, easily moving from one job to another, attracted by slight increases in pay and often an easier life (or perception of an easier life elsewhere)!

This can make it very difficult for businesses to compete, especially small business who cannot afford to entice staff with higher wages.

My proposed solution

Throw up in the air the traditional way that you work and attract staff and consider going back to the drawing board.

How about, rather than offering split shifts and full-time hours, you break it down and create a team of staff who cover a particular part of the shift.

Morning – Offer set morning hours Monday to Friday, for example if you need to cover the breakfast shift 7am – 10 am.
You may find that this time of the day is attractive to retired or semi-retired people who want to stay active, earn some extra cash but keep their days free to enjoy retirement.

Lunchtime or Midday – you could time these hours so that they start after the school run in the morning and end before the pick-up time for school and thereby attract working parents who want something to fit around the children at school. If this were Monday-Friday term time only then you would open the job up to a whole range of people who may have been previously put off from working for your business.

Evenings and weekend – this could be attractive for those who are looking for a second income, or who perhaps work part-time elsewhere. You may decide to advertise this to those who want a second income or to earn a bit of extra cash and consider having a larger bank of people to cover 1 or 2 shifts each.

Whilst this may not be the best fit for your business it is an example of thinking about things in a different way – there are other solutions you just need to be brave and give it a go.


It is a difficult time to recruit and retain good people and therefore you need to give serious consideration to the ways you work, what you offer and how you look after your good people.

Do not be afraid to try something new, it is easy to moan and groan about things, but it is not easy to take a risk and try something new!

If you want some help with starting something new, please let me know as I would be very happy to help and if you are thinking about making a wholesale change to your workforce demographic then please let me know as I would love to know how it goes. Equally if you have already done it, it would be great to feature your business as a case study.

Some questions you may wish to consider to get started.

1) How are you attracting the candidates who apply to you currently?
2) What is your advertising method for job roles?
3) When they come in for an interview or selection day who do the candidates meet? What is their first impression of your business and the colleagues they will be working with?
4) Do the hours and conditions of work put off certain groups of people from your local community?
5) What is the demographic of person you are trying to attract?

Remember the workforce you create will reflect the workforce that you will attract!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 This article was written and researched by Alison Colley, Solicitor and Director of Real Employment Law Advice

 Don’t forget getting advice from a Solicitor does not have to be complicated or costly!

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