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Four in ten European employers struggle to attract employees

Four in ten European employers struggle to attract employees

42% of European employers struggle to attract employees. The war for talent remains the biggest challenge on the labor market, but how does that translate into concrete figures and points of attention for employers? Through a European survey of 4371 companies, SD Worx, the leading European HR & payroll services provider, sheds light on how current employers are arming themselves in the battle to attract new employees. More than half of European companies indicate that they have never had such a hard time positioning themselves as an attractive employer.

    Vacancies are filled more slowly

    The war for talent confronts current employers with major challenges, SD Worx research confirms. For example, 42% of European employers indicate that they have difficulty attracting employees. That figure is significantly higher in Belgium (65%), the Netherlands (54%) and Ireland (53%). Countries such as Sweden (32%), Italy (32%), Norway (31%) and Spain (29%) seem to have a slightly less difficult time attracting employees.

    More than ever, employers are feeling the pressure to position themselves as an attractive employer in the fight against the current labor shortage. More than half of European employers (53%) say this has never been more difficult. This is especially true for French (60%), Belgian (59%), Italian (56%) and Polish (56%) employers. Six in ten European employers indicate that it is currently taking longer to fill vacancies. Especially in Belgium (74%), Ireland (69%) and the Netherlands (68%) companies confirm this trend.

      Half of European employers do not find suitable profiles

      European employers find it particularly difficult to find candidates with the right skills. For 56% of the companies surveyed in Europe, this is the biggest challenge in the war for talent. The figure is even higher among Belgian (70%), Italian (63%) and German (61%) employers.

      According to an average of 51% of the companies surveyed, there is a structural imbalance between supply and demand of talent on the labor market. Belgium in particular points to this as the underlying cause for the lack of suitable candidates for open vacancies, with a convincing 71%. The same conclusion is also reached in France (56%) and in Ireland (55%). Only in Norway (38%) are companies less convinced about this problem as an explanation for the war for talent.

      New business models and increased digitization are creating an increasing demand for new profiles. This new search points to a changing economy. It is an evolution that requires a certain adjustment of companies in order to respond differently to the labor market. The question arises to what extent companies can explore their search for candidates in alternative ways, for example by investing in the retraining of existing employees so that they can take up a different role or function within the company.

      However, the survey shows that only 1 in 2 European employers find it easy to retrain employees or deploy them elsewhere in the organisation. Internal mobility is more common in the United Kingdom (61%), Poland (61%) and Italy (57%) while in Belgium it is not the case in more than a third of companies.

        European employers have issues to find candidates

          Focus on people-oriented HR, flexible working hours and financial stability

          The survey shows that employers want to make a difference for employees through a number of domains. The top 5 domains that employers focus on to attract employees consist of: working hours and flexible working arrangements (such as flexible working hours per week or sliding hours), a pleasant working atmosphere and social environment, job security and financial stability, meaningful and challenging work and attention for training and development opportunities. About 35% of employers put working hours and flexible working arrangements in the top 5. 34% of the respondents go for the work atmosphere and social environment. Job security and financial stability are in the top 5 for 34% of the companies surveyed. Job content such as meaningful, interesting and challenging work is in the top 5 for 32% of European employers. Finally, attention to training and development opportunities belongs to 27% of the respondents in the top 5 of the domains in which they want to position themselves as an attractive organization on the labor market.

          “Companies today face a major challenge. Our research confirms that employers in Europe will have to be inventive in the search for the most suitable profiles. Attention to the possible learning curve and the adaptability of potential candidates for a job is a must”, says Cathy Geerts, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx. “This way, both existing employees from an organization and new candidates can still be considered for an open vacancy. Employers don't have to support that switch alone. For example, they can make use of education and training or they can work with interim contracts. This way you as a company can still succeed in filling vacancies. Moreover, you increase the potential of your employees.”

            About the survey

            As part of the War for Talent, iVox conducted a study commissioned by SD Worx into how European employers deal with attracting employees. The research focuses on attractive employership in the war for talent, looking at what employees are looking for in an employer, and what employers focus on in order to be/become an attractive employer. The research deals with 7 puzzle pieces that employers can work with: well-being and people-oriented HR, flexible work organisation, motivating wage policy, inspiring and activating culture, digital workplace, talent management in sustainable careers and recruitment.

            The survey was conducted in February and March 2022 in Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland. A total of 4371 companies were surveyed. The sample is representative of the specific local labor markets and has the same composition according to organizational size of the companies in the countries concerned.