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Investing in people: alternative solutions to combat inflation

In the unstable climate of an inflated market, it’s important to explore alternative ways to compete sustainably, which will allow your business to benefit in the long term and provide job security – without having to succumb to the pressure to hike salaries or provide one-off payments. 

We recommend reading Part One of our guide, Cost of living: how to help your business navigate inflation for why we recommend the alternative solutions below. 

Solution One: Your vision, ethos, and where your workers fit within that

Sit with people in the hiring stage and talk to them about what it’s like to work in your business, or bring in your existing staff to give their perspectives too. With new hires and existing staff alike, it’s important to be transparent about your mission – your long-term plan for company growth or projects you’ll take on in the future such as sustainability or diversity and inclusion. 

“Let them know about the progression available in your company, with clear milestones or guidelines. Do they have to wait for someone to leave, or a certain amount of time to pass before they can be promoted?”

Ryan Jaiswal, Director of Operations.

These aspects have a great chance of grabbing someone more than the prospect of an inflated salary offer, as it shows your vision is long-term and lets them know where they fit, and exactly how they can progress.   

Solution Two: Upskilling, Learning & Development, Studies

What type of upskilling should your business offer?

Ryan continues: “The training that you offer doesn’t have to be fancy, and in some cases, it just involves giving people more trust, more responsibility, and opportunities to learn and do different things in their everyday roles. I think that looking after people, making sure they’re happy, and remaining open to their feedback is huge for retention.”

Upskilling means different things to different industries. For example, in digital marketing, it means keeping up to date with the latest technical updates and practices, while in HR it may mean learning new tools or methods to manage staff. If you’re not sure what upskilling to offer, the best way to find out is to ask your teams. Chances are, they’ll have thoughts and suggestions, and it’ll open a real dialogue – contributing to your culture along the way.

Upskilling to nurture company culture, aid retention, and attract talent

Ryan continues: “If someone is learning in a job, taking on more experience and new skills, they’re not going to leave just to get an extra 2k elsewhere. They’re going to think to themselves; “I’m learning so much here, I’m developing, I’m respected, and I’m enjoying what I do.” 

Providing L&D (learning and development) shows potential hires and existing staff that you are committed to their personal development and will help to nurture a culture of self-improvement. Businesses thrive when employees are happy, appreciated, and engaged. As they gain new experience and skills, you may notice that they go above and beyond in their day-to-day.

Upskilling can also help to streamline processes and reduce pain points or uncertainty. For those in leadership roles, if their team understands how to take on more senior or niche tasks, they can share the workload and free up more time throughout the day.

This is a positive and attractive learning culture that your staff will want to remain in, and new talent will want to become a part of. Developing and promoting your staff internally also improves the reputation of your company and makes job opportunities more attractive to candidates – placing you in a competitive position within the market.

How to provide upskilling whilst protecting your business

One way to offer this sustainably is to invest in people and give a yearly budget for training, and this can be tied to a contract. For example, you can offer £5k for training in the next 12 months, but with an agreement that if an employee leaves during it, or within a certain amount of time after that, those funds must be paid back to the company. This protects the business from your workers receiving this training and then upskilling and leaving. 

Solution Three: The Power of a Job Title 

“There are ways to offset inflation without necessarily increasing salary – for the senior market, something that we’ve seen be quite successful is the power of a job title and recognition.“

James Robinson, Manager of Marketing Recruitment

Sometimes when we speak with hiring managers, we ask whether the job title is fixed, and often it’s not. A change in wording to “manager” or “head of” may not cost you anything, but it can make all the difference to a senior-level candidate. Especially for someone who hasn’t had progression available within their current business in the last few years. 

James continues; “It can also attract those who are looking for progression, but are wary of getting ‘ahead-of-title’ – for instance if a candidate is a Marketing Manager and the next title upwards in their company is ‘Director’, but they don’t feel ready for that, offering the title ‘Head of’ can be a great step between that.”

Solution Four: Hiring Temporary & Interim Talent 

Hiring staff on a temporary or interim basis can be valuable when you need highly-skilled individuals in a short period of time. In the current climate, this is especially useful if you lose staff and can’t compete with inflated salaries to re-hire, or even if you just need some cover while a permanent staff member is away.

Additionally, hiring temporary staff can also provide valuable support for busy periods of the year – aiding your work culture by helping to reduce burnout and ease your team’s workload by taking on tasks, covering them during training, or bringing a fresh set of eyes to internal processes.

Temporary & interim hires are invaluable to businesses big and small and are a surefire way to ensure you keep up with your client’s needs without compromising on the well-being of your permanent hires.

To discuss whether a temporary & interim hire may be right for your business, please contact our Interim & Temporary Recruitment Manager, Claire Fletcher.

Solution Five: Flexibility, Perks, and Benefits

Modern candidates look at modern business practices more favourably. If you’re able to show that you care about their work/life balance or support their further development, many people will choose your role over a higher salary. This can be anything from flexible working hours to 4-day work weeks, private medical cover, and funding for further studies.

It’s important to make sure you invest in people and offer perks that matter to candidates. Talk to your team about what perks they’d find valuable – for example, offsetting their travel or providing free snacks can go a long way in easing their daily expenses.

These conversations can give you great insight into what your employees want, and when attracting new talent, how to create job listings that show you care about the happiness of your staff. Utilise their feedback and you’ll likely see your applications skyrocket.

How Distinct can help you to compete

Due to uncertainty in the jobs market over the two-year pandemic period, many candidates increased their skillsets and experience, but lacked confidence or couldn’t find a secure opportunity to move on. Often, they didn’t receive a raise in this time either.

As a result, we’ve witnessed a large influx of candidates who possess 2-3 more years of experience than usually seen at their level, whilst working at salaries below what they should be. Now with the cost-of-living crisis, they’ve begun to demand more in line with market inflation. On the other side, we see businesses seeking candidates who are over-skilled for the salary being offered, as this is the calibre of talent that has been on the market in previous years. We’re seeing huge and unsustainable pay rises of even £20k in some cases, as businesses now compete to retain their staff and attract new talent.

Adjusting expectations and considering the long-term effects can help both hirers and candidates. As your recruitment partner, we’ll apply our expert knowledge to provide you with insight into the current market rate, and responsibly advise you on budget and salary banding for the role you’re looking to fill.

We’ll match you with ambitious candidates by championing your culture, ethos, and opportunities for progression. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact us today.


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