Posted on Monday 25 March 2019 by Ulster Business

Justin new


Demand for top talent has never been more of an issue for local businesses. It seems as though businesses are under attack from all sides, the labour market is operating at ‘full employment’, pressures to retain increase, and attitudes from young professionals show a steady trend to work free-lance in the future.

No easy solutions exist if growing your business requires an increased workforce. However, these are some considerations you may want to make.

Invest in future talent. Many of Northern Ireland’s largest employers invest heavily in the recruitment of graduate level talent. They do this to maintain a pipeline of people who can be trained and moulded into important leading roles. It is true that this graduate talent from our universities represents high-potential, future talent. But don’t think that you need to be a global business or international consultancy to appoint from this group. Recent surveys suggest that SMEs can provide highly attractive graduate employment offerings by illustrating the range and depth of responsibility that they can offer.

Offer work from home. Working from home is nothing new for many large businesses but it is a major leap of faith for many smaller firms. If the systems and processes required to make it effective can be introduced cost-effectively, this tactic could provide you with access to a pool of talent way beyond your normal commutable distance.

Consider job sharing. This option is not the most straightforward to pursue, but it can certainly provide you with access to a segment of the market which you were not tapped in to. One full time job can easily become two reduced hour positions. Workplace flexibility is now regularly ranked by employees as a one of the top three most valued benefits provided. Couple this with an increased demand for reduced hours employment and you could have a decision to make. My experience with this initiative has always been positive, often recruiting highly qualified and experienced people who have simply had to address a change in circumstances.

Illustrate your commitment to diversity. This is such a huge item of at present, ignore it at your peril. Especially if your recruitment tends to mean appointing under 25s. If you are unsure what your businesses commitment to diversity is, you need to bring your senior team together and rethink it.

At this time of major uncertainty, it is incumbent upon business leaders to take any steps needed to retain their in-house talent and to attract the best they can. π

Justin Rush is managing director at the Abacus Talent Group and can be found on


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