Recruiters say Ireland's heading for a 'major talent crisis' in the next 12 months

Retaining and attracting top-tier employees is the number-one issue for HR people.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

HEADHUNTERS SAY IRELAND is hurdling towards a “major talent crisis” over the next 12 months.

A survey by recently sold recruitment firm Sigmar and professional services provider EY has found that retaining key staff is the top concern of HR bosses across the country.

When asked to list their priorities for 2018, some 269 hiring managers who took the survey said holding onto talented workers was the main issue while attracting top-tier employees was ranked at number two.

According to the findings, employers are likely to offer salary top-ups to two in every three employees this year in an effort to keep them on the payroll.

Reacting to the survey results, Sigmar’s head of HR recruitment, Kate Stewart, said it was unsurprising that talent retention is at the forefront of hiring managers’ minds at a time when the economy is strong and unemployment is at its lowest level in a decade.

“What has become clear from the results is that companies are preparing themselves for an acceleration in the war for skills and are prepared to pay for that talent. As a result, salaries are set to rise considerably over the next 12 months,” she said.

EY partner Niamh O’Beirne said the lesson for employers to learn is that “what may have worked in the past won’t always work in the future”.

“Given the unprecedented pace of change and unpredictability in today’s working world, it is becoming ever more important to hire for mindset and not necessarily skill set,” she said.

“In the future, we are going to have jobs we don’t know yet, using technologies we don’t have yet, solving problems that don’t yet exist.”

With that in mind, employers should focus on nurturing leadership qualities in their staff and provide a flexible workplace culture’ “to respond to the changing conditions around them”.

New technology

The Sigmar-EY survey also found that Irish employers are beginning to introduce elements to the hiring process like data analytics and are investing more in educating and increasing the skills of their workforce.

Just over 30 of the 269 respondents reported that staff have had some of their daily tasks altered in the last year thanks to the introduction of automation or artificial intelligence in the workplace.

However, this figure is expected to increase in the coming years with two in five saying they believe robotics will play a bigger part in shaping workers’ roles which Sigmar’s Stewart believes will pose a challenge for employers.

“Any change is difficult for people and employees are naturally resistant to it,” she said.

“As more organisations embrace these technologies, talent leaders will need to engage in change-management processes to ease their introduction. This will involve an increased focus on internal communication, training and organisational development and design.”

Sign up to our newsletter to receive a regular digest of Fora’s top articles delivered to your inbox.