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Recruitment a key issue, say Suffolk business leaders

Business leaders in Suffolk have reported fundamental changes in working practice and recruitment, following the impacts of lockdown and Brexit.

A survey carried out among attendees at Larking Gowen's Business Breakfast at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, found 35% of respondents saying recruitment had become more difficult over the last 18 months, with 55% saying they’re now recruiting staff from a wider geographic area than before.

On working practices 80% of respondents reported a permanent change following lockdown.

The event, entitled How To Retain Great People, which took place on Tuesday 14 September, was attended by 54 business leaders from around Suffolk.

Larking Gowen Partner Ian Fitch, who was co-presenting the event, said there was also a widespread recruitment problem across many industries. "Businesses across a range of sectors are struggling to find and retain good people. The pool for workers has dropped significantly for various reasons."

"Employers need to think about how to retain great people, otherwise they will go to work for a competitor. The pandemic has shown that employees have earned the right to be trusted. Some are more productive at home, and we're seeing more and more companies who are allowing greater flexibility."

One of the attendees was Paul Day, Managing Director of logistics firm Turners (Soham) Ltd, which operates more than 1,850 vehicles across 32 sites.

Mr Day said: "At the moment retention of people is the most important thing. It's not only drivers, it's warehouse operators, packhouse operators and support services.

"We’ve been massively impacted by a shortage of drivers. They need to be valued and paid appropriately. It's about knowing people and having management present on the ground, all one team."

Mr Day said the driver shortage was caused by a number of factors, including the lack of EU drivers, a long period without training and testing, and a surge in activity levels as lockdown was eased.

Robert Baxter, Managing Director of Chassis-Cab Ltd, the DAF franchise holder for East Anglia, said demand for servicing, repairs and parts was at a permanent high level.

"With the lack of drivers, it’s even more important that the trucks are on the road as much as possible," he said, adding that recruitment, including finding apprentices had become increasingly difficult across the business.

Larking Gowen Partner Becky Ames, also presenting, spoke about how employers can motivate staff by talking to them and finding out what they’re looking for from their job.

"A good employee value proposition can't just be monetary, and often depends on what stage of their career they’re at. If they’re younger it might be about learning and development or perhaps autonomy and responsibility. Older employees, or those with families might be looking for greater flexibility.

"Ultimately, the key is to talk to your people and find out what they value. Your business needs a wide range of employment options, a big enough offering to suit each individual," she said.


Photographed - Robert Baxter, Managing Director of Chassis-Cab Ltd and Paul Day, Managing Director of Turners (Soham) Ltd - photo credit Sylvaine Poitau



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