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Employers facing up to nine months of unfilled vacancies

More than a third (36%) of employers expect vacant positions to stay unfilled for three to six months, according to new research from consultancy Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.

One in 10 (10%) are even seeing delays of up to nine months, as demand for skilled candidates soars above supply.

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Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, said the situation is putting pressure on business.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “A constrained talent pool combined with existing employees resigning represents a nightmare situation for employers desperate to recover from the pandemic and current economic challenges.”

With just 7% of employers expecting a new employee to reach full capacity in their first three months on the job, employers are also facing serious gaps in productivity.

More than half (56%) said they expect candidates to take six to 12 months to come up to speed.

Herbert said: “Research undertaken by Oxford Economics in 2014 suggested that the difference in time to reach ‘optimum productivity’ is, unsurprisingly, directly correlated to how much relevant experience the candidate already had before joining their new employer.”

In the same study, new starters joining from the same sector reached peak output in half the time of those joining from another sector.

He added: “Employers desperate to return to maximum output quickly will need to focus on securing the right candidate from the outset, to minimise these expensive time drags in the recruitment process.”

Adrian Smith, senior director of operations at recruiter Randstad UK, told HR magazine that placeable candidates are juggling three or four offers within a few weeks of their first interview.

He added: “The solution is not to dawdle over hiring a good candidate you’ve interviewed and liked. If you do, they will be snapped up by a rival. 

“Employers need to move fast and be decisive.”

To avoid lengthy vacancies, Herbert said, employers should prioritise the retention of existing employees.

Retention is far easier than recruitment, and avoids the damage to productivity, reduces any new training required, and of course removes all the additional time and monetary cost associated with recruitment.”

“Every vacancy avoided will lessen those potentially lengthy recruitment and productivity challenges.”