How to recruit younger workers – smaller firms reveal their struggles in Barclays report | City & Business | Finance

Young job-seekers are giving the thumbs-down to smaller businesses, new findings from Barclays reveal. Just over half (51 percent) of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) say they are struggling with hires and are concerned that the under-25s (Gen z) aren’t interested in working for them.

Despite the benefits of working in this sector such as the greater flexibility and chance to develop a broader skillset, less than 24 per cent of first timers would consider it.

Competitive salaries are a key worry, with companies concluding younger workers think larger firms can offer them higher wages and more perks. 

Yet, with businesses clearly needing to bring in this age group for the health and future of their ventures, how do they highlight their attractions cost-effectively?

Barclays has teamed up with ex- Apprentice finalist and entrepreneur Bianca Miller-Cole, to provide SMEs with some top tips about showing why they are an enticing opportunity for career progression.

Championing SMEs for entry-level recruitment 

Businesses surveyed argued that they could provide greater flexibility in working patterns (39 percent) such as remote or hybrid working options (32 percent). This corresponds with nearly a third (31 percent) of first-time jobseekers highlighting the ability to work flexibly as a key factor when looking for their first job role. 

Small and medium-sized businesses were also concerned that young people were more likely to be attracted to working for bigger businesses because they believed them to offer better career progression (36 percent) and more recognition among friends and family (27 percent). 

Yet, SMEs are positive they could offer entry-level workers the ability to make a significant impact on the direction of the business (30 percent) and the development of a broader skillset (28 percent) when it comes to career trajectory. 

SMEs are also eager to do more in order to attract the younger generation to roles within their business, with more than two in five (41 percent) investing in their local communities, such as by partnering with schools and colleges in the local area. 

Hannah Bernard, Barclays head of business banking, explains: “We know recruitment is a challenge for small and medium sized businesses up and down the UK and the last few years has brought with it a large shift in how we all view the world of work.

“It’s therefore unsurprising that entry-level workers or Gen Z are being extremely transparent about what they are looking for from their first job role, providing businesses with a great opportunity to adapt. 

“SMEs have a critical role to play in local communities, enabling the next generation to harness a broad skillset and further career opportunities for progression.

“As the cornerstone of the UK economy, it’s important we recognise and highlight the fantastic opportunities available within these types of businesses as well as the need to adopt a slightly different approach to recruitment, in order to engage top tier talent for junior roles.”

“I know first-hand that it’s tough out there – the fight for talent is real,” says Bianca Miller Cole. “I am passionate about providing business owners with the tools they need to stand out when it comes to recruitment for young talent and ultimately, believe this will help to future proof SMEs for years to come.”

Her tips for recruiting young talent include: 

  • Empower their growth: Make sure you’re advertising more than just a job role  – at entry level it’s crucial to demonstrate there is a career path. First-time jobseekers want to understand that there’s going to be ample training and support available to them.
  • Embrace their values: It’s clear the next generation is passionate about brand values. Whether that includes the purpose of a business or what social pursuits are on offer – make it known what these are and what’s available. As a SME, these are your unique selling points.
  • Work/life balance: A job and extra-curricular pursuits of an employee don’t have to be in competition with one another. As the work/life balance debate continues to change and evolve, remember that not everyone will want to work remotely, or in the office. Where possible, give candidates the opportunity to shape their own working patterns.
  • Modernise your recruitment process: Gen Z is a digital-first generation, so it might be time to revamp your recruitment process. Leverage social media platforms to reach out to potential candidates.

Mark Fuller, chief executive of London’s Sanctum Hotel said: “One of the ways we have been able to secure top talent is to really advertise that career trajectory for the role and bring to life our brand at the interview stage. We are very clear on the type of hotel we are and what we offer and bringing that same ethos and our values to the table for candidates has been very well received.

“I’ve always said that a career in a hospitality business is incredibly exciting and always evolving – and more than ever, I believe that to be true.”

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