Ask any UK engineering business and they will tell you that finding good Engineers is extremely difficult. With more vacancies available than candidates it means employers have to think outside the box to attract and retain talent, to enable them to meet their business objectives. Nolan work with a foray of engineering clients to analyse their current “attractiveness” and offer areas for improvement.
As a business how can we attract the best Engineers?
There are still so many businesses offering the bare minimum in terms of remuneration, benefits and long hours. They then struggle to understand why they can’t attract new Engineers in what is a very labour short market. Offering 20 days per year holiday, Gov standard pension, less than competitive salary with no overtime unless you work over 48 hours per week, is not going to make you an attractive proposition for a candidate. We have listed a number of areas below which you can look at with your business. Yes there are other factors, however these are a good place to start.
It goes without saying that employers need to offer a competitive base salary to attract Engineers to work at their business. If you are paying £4,000 per year less for your CNC Setter compared with the local competition then how do you expect to prise a candidate away from that competitor? Every Engineer will have different expectations however in simple terms, the greater the benefits the more attractive your position will be and the harder it is for a rival company to “take” your talent, thus aiding your retention. Having a range of benefits will put you in a stronger position for attracting and retaining top talent. Whilst one employee may love to go on holiday therefore holiday allowance is key, another may place their health as the most important factor, so healthcare insurance would be the best option. Another may have young children therefore they would benefit from childcare vouchers etc, the list goes on. In summary the more varied benefits you are able to offer the more attractive your position becomes.
However don’t be fooled. . . salary isn’t everything! Well not for everyone.
This is particularly challenging when looking at the engineering industry. It can be more difficult to offer flexible working within engineering compared to many other industries such as IT. With the rise in agile methodologies, working from home is becoming more common for many other sectors. Smallbusiness.co.uk in collaboration with OddsMonkey estimated half of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020.
So how does this work in Engineering if you have clients to service or factories to operate? It simply isn’t possible to flex on this in some engineering disciplines however once again, try and think outside the box. Do you need your Mobile Engineer to come to the office every Friday to complete their paperwork for the week or can he/she do this from home? This day working from home could present a significant benefit to some depending on their personal circumstances. Some companies operate an early finish on a Friday within Engineering which is very well received by candidates.
Training particularly within Engineering is absolute key in attracting and retaining the very best engineering talent. Companies fear investing in talent in case they leave however you can look at certain employment contract stipulations to give you some security around this. With a greater level of training you will not only have a more competent/compliant Engineer they are also likely to be more motivated as their employer is showing faith by investing in them. As a result it’s also likely your clients will receive a higher level of service which in turn should lead to more future orders. A win win situation.
- Working Environment
Particularly within Engineering, more so than industries such as IT or Banking, safety is paramount. We hear too often about employees becoming anxious due to poor health and safety standards. This can be extremely dangerous for workers not to mention the reputational risk which a safety breach can present. If you state health and safety is of paramount importance, ensure this is followed through. This will show employees you care and will again impact attraction and retention.
Whilst some industries such as Waste for example may present difficult working conditions there are still things that can be done to improve working environments. Ask yourself the question; is there anything we can do to improve the environment our Engineers are working in? Might be something simple like cleaner toilets, clean canteen etc.
There are obviously many other factors which will have an impact however if you get the basics right this can have a huge impact.
Plan for the future
More so than ever it’s important for companies to plan ahead. The country needs 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025 (Source Telegraph) and we are currently looking at a deficit of 50,000 new Engineers per year. Yes an Apprentice, Trainee or Graduate isn’t going to set the world on fire immediately however if you invest in new talent now then this should put you in a stronger position in the future. Some potential short term pain for a long term gain.
Contact Nolan Recruitment today to discuss how we can assist in attracting the best engineering talent or advise on your current practices.