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Annie Hayes



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Colborn’s Corner: The recruitment lottery


Quentin Colborn
Quentin Colborn looks at the CIPD’s annual Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey released this month reporting on the activity levels involved in hiring the best staff and examining what part luck and chance play.

They say that one of the easiest jobs to recruit for is an MP. There are dozens of people willing to be appointed, many of whom are falling over themselves to do so, and then look at who we get! It may be democracy, but does appointment by the ballot box always produce the right outcome?

And of those representing the major parties, what process do they go through to get that all-valued nomination? By all accounts knowing the right people features pretty high up the list, along with a strong tendency to reinforce the values of the nominating party. Of course this produces a fair degree of conflict when the values of the party locally don’t reflect those centrally and that’s when we come across central lists and so on.

But what does this have to do with ‘real’ recruitment, the sort that you and I do day in and day out? Well first of all I’m pretty sure we don’t have shortlists that ensure that certain groupings of people are given head starts over others. Apart from some, very particular situations, few of us operate in situations of targeted recruitment looking for people of a certain gender or ethnic background but politicians do!

The message that comes over fair and square from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) survey is that employers are increasingly looking at the full range of available employees regardless of age, sex or nationality.

And of course that’s the way it should be! Naturally it does bring into question the need for some of the forthcoming legislation relating to age discrimination. Reading this report one would think that the market will ensure that older people are not discriminated against as employers are struggling to find suitable employees.

Looking back ten years or so many practitioners were speaking about the demographic time bomb and the impact it would have on organisations abilities to manage their affairs. As a topic, the demographic time bomb seemed to lose favour and drifted from consciousness but it is still there and alive and well! So what are we doing about it?

I would be interested to learn of organisations that have long terms plans to address their manpower requirements. I suspect there are precious few who are able to do so long term and of course, a large aspect falls into the realm of public policy and what action the Government can, and should, be taking.

I heard reports recently of the Australian Government actively encouraging through taxation families to have more children – ‘One for him, one for her and one for Australia’ was I believe the Government’s cry. Is this a route we should be going down? Do we have that long to address the manpower requirements?

The alternative is to focus on greater use of labour from the new EU nations. This is happening already with anecdotal stories of teams of Polish builders moving to the UK with a reputation for good quality, low cost, work. Will this be the future for recruitment for many of us?

What problems will this throw up in terms of labour rates and the requirement to have new approaches to benefits and styles of employment for these new workers? This approach may be feasible if you are recruiting semi-skilled labour, but what if you work for a Government agency where the skills requirement simply cannot be sourced elsewhere?

I believe the challenge for us within HR is to look at what we can do to make our organisations more attractive to potential recruits and it’s not just a question of money. More and more I believe there will be real competition based on factors such as quality of life and quality of management. Ignore these at our peril – they may prove to be the real issues in the recruitment of the future.

What difficulties has your organisation experienced in recruitment and how did you go about addressing the issues? Please share your success stories regarding good practice and how you’ve enabled competitive advantage through effective recruitment. Simply post your thoughts at the foot of this article.

Quentin Colborn is an independent consultant who helps organisations address strategic issues within HR. To contact him T: 01376 571360 or e-mail him at [email protected]

Colborn’s Corner: series articles

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Annie Hayes


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