Like many industries, self storage has seen many challenges arise during the Covid pandemic, but none more staggering than the increased pressure of trying to recruit in a time where the labour market has picked itself up and gone into overdrive.
Job vacancies are soaring in the UK right now, according to a KPMG survey the demand for hiring workers rose at its fastest rate in May 2021 with the easing of Covid restrictions and reopening of multiple sectors. Unfortunately, this also correlated with the quickest rate decline for the number of available staff since 2017.
Combining this with the pressure to hire someone not only right for the role but who also aspires to the company’s values can seem like an impossible task.
We don’t claim to have the perfect formula but have had recent success implementing a recruitment process that delves into the practicalities of working life now expected by candidates and adapting the business to trends that look to become the norm in 2022.
Here are a few of the hiring trends we’ve seen emerging over the last year and how we are using them to our advantage when hiring in 2022.
Spending more time with candidates
It may cost more in terms of your time but we’ve definitely seen that there is value in going through a more extensive due diligence process before getting a person on board and ensuring that they are right for the role, but also that the role is right for them.
Spending more time with prospective candidates conducting personality testing such as Myers Briggs, having multiple members of the team interview them and actually touring the facilities and seeing how they would work within the role before an offer is made ensures that we hire the right candidate first time.
This in turn then means they are less likely to decline the job offer or leave after a short amount of time, which would be detrimental in terms of cost, time and loss of work.
The dreaded commute has seemingly become a thing of the past with the emergence of remote working in the last year.
Not only has this been impacted by those who dread the tube at 8am in the morning, but we have seen from the housing market boom that people are moving out of the cities and into the suburbs to find more affordable housing now that they do not have to be on location to work.
Remote working really is the gift that keeps on giving for employers as it has been proven to be more cost effective, increase staff morale, decreases absenteeism and allows you to widen your recruitment talent pool.
It is a big move for a company to make and one which not every business can. Covid gave us a chance to look at how each of our stores were run and realign this with our working models. With almost 90% of customers now reserving online we are taking this opportunity to adjust the stores to not need a physical presence on site. This has been a growing trend for most businesses in the last few years, with travel companies in particular seeing a similar percentage of customers choosing to book online and reflecting this by adjusting their face-to-face capacity.
Offering flexibility with hybrid working
If remote working is not feasible for your company, another working model that saw major uplift in 2020/21 is hybrid working, where employees work from home and on site when necessary.
We have always worked with our employees on a somewhat hybrid model, once they are embedded into the company they are given the flexibility to work from the office and from home once or twice a week. This paid off for us when the working from home restrictions came into place and from our employees morale it has always benefited the company.
Employees are now looking for a role to work around their lives. We’ve seen this trend in recruiting that people are no longer driven solely by the salary of a role, but by the job package as a whole which is something we are always examining to make sure we are getting the desired work life balance right.
Leveraging professionals moving careers
The labour market in 2021 was volatile to say the least and we saw a lot of musical chairs between sectors as employees started to re-evaluate their working lives and identify new challenges they wanted to embark on. The term on everyone’s lips right now seems to be ‘life’s too short’.
You can leverage this trend by identifying potential candidates who may not hold the relevant experience required for a role but who have a skill set that matches the role perfectly.
When writing job specifications, focus on the desired knowledge, abilities and skills you’re looking for in a candidate rather than the education or work experience they hold that actually may not make them the most suitable choice for the role.
Upskilling existing staff
Even pre-pandemic we saw an increasing skills gap in not only the self storage industry but in many other sectors also, the pandemic only made this more acute, increasing the difficulties in hiring to skilled roles. This was particularly evident for us within managerial and higher roles.
When we run into these challenges we are prompted to take stock of the skills that are already available within our existing team and utilise training for those who had skills which closely matched those in demand.
By upskilling your existing staff you can retain valuable employees and recruit lower within the business where those skills can be taught at an earlier stage and developed over time. This means your staff grow with the company and thrive in the roles they are moulded into.
Taking on the trends outlined above may make recruitment just a little easier for all. Hiring in 2022 really comes down to reflecting on your business and what you offer your employees, then finding a way for the two to work harmoniously together.
Written by Mehran Charania, CEO of Ready Steady Store