The latest data from the ONS revealed that overall, unemployment is down on the quarter and on the year with 2.24 million people aged 16 or over currently out of work, but seeking employment and available to work. Part of the explanation of the downward trend in unemployment has been the steady rise in the number of people opting to become self-employed since the economic downturn.

Recent statistics from the PCG, the membership group for independent professionals, have shown that there has been a significant increase in the number of people in the UK registering as self-employed.

According to the PCG, the rise in the number of people describing themselves as self-employed equates to an extra 172,000 in the last three months alone. This means the number of self-employed people in the UK now stands at 4.37 million, or 14.5 per cent of the total workforce.

The trend of increasing self-employment raises the question to employers as to whether enough is being done to keep the best talent within the company, instead of losing them to become self-employed, as benefits such as flexible working hours are seemingly tempting people away from their employers. This suggests that the challenge of employee retention is one which is becoming more testing. In order for employers to buck this trend, businesses and their HR teams should be looking to build their employer brand.

A company’s employer brand is what makes staff want to stay there, and makes those searching for employment (whether actively or passively) want to work for you. There are many ways businesses can build their employer brand, not only through incentives and perks, but also through the company’s culture, competitiveness and innovation. It is important that businesses are proactive when it comes to selecting and retaining the best talent, and building an employer brand is part of this.

Furthermore, in terms of recruitment, recent research has uncovered that the self-employed could be a group which is being overlooked, as not everyone who has opted to become self-employed has found it to be the best option for them. An Ipsos Mori survey found that 28% of people who declared themselves unemployed in the last five years would in fact prefer to be employees. That is the equivalent to more than 450,000 of the 1.7 million people who have become self-employed in the last five years. Businesses and recruiters should be aware of this passive pool of talent, as although they may not be actively seeking to get back into employment, a significant portion would be willing to make the move if approached.

To find out how to develop a first-class recruitment process that expands beyond the point of onboarding and reduces skill shortages, through pro-actively identifying passive pools of talent such as the self-employed, download our free eBook.

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