Record employment rates leaves local businesses fighting over candidates

Kentish Pip Wild Summer Sparkling Elderflower Cider
Neil Simmons, TN Recruits

RECORD unemployment figures are turning the job market on its head in Tunbridge Wells as employers struggle to both hire and retain staff.

Nationally, more people are in work than ever before, with recent employment figures putting 32.7million in paid work.

While this is good news for those seeking work, it means businesses trying to employ people face a long and difficult task to find the right candidates.

“It is very much a candidate-led market now,” said Neil Simmons, who runs local recruitment firm, TN Recruits.

He says job-seekers have a lot more choice and has changed the dynamic between job seeker and employer.

“Employers are used to interviewing candidates but employers should also be pitching their business. It is really important that candidates know what the opportunity is.

“You also have to think about things such as flexible working, that is becoming more important now, and I have clients that hold a monthly barbecue for their employees. Things like that help to keep and attract candidates,” he said.

Mr Simmons, who has arranges around 30 job interviews for some of the 5,000 candidates on his database, each week, says employers simply cannot just throw extra money at employees or candidates to retain or fill vacancies.

“It is not just about money anymore,” he said. “When you ask candidates what is important to them, the responses are varied. While money is often in the mix, varied roles, opportunities to grow, training, and the feeling that they are being invested in and listened to by employers is all very important to candidates now.”

For Tunbridge Wells’ businesses, one of the biggest challenges for employers is the town’s location.

“The bright lights of London are very attractive, but employers should be promoting the fact that working in Tunbridge Wells means you do not have to suffer that commute,” he said.

He added: “We also have some fantastic employers in Tunbridge Wells, from some really big employers such as AXA, Markerstudy, Childrensalon, but also a lot of really great SMEs that are providing excellent opportunities for people.”


[Breakout] The challenges of a Tunbridge Wells employer

Victoria Usher, Managing director of PR Agency, GingerMay, says there is a generational different between employees, with the younger ‘Millennials’ displaying a ‘wanderlust’ that makes retention difficult.

 “It can take six months to a year to find somebody, hire them, and for them to work out their notice and begin work. Then we invest a lot of money training them, so we have to find ways to encourage them to stay,” said Mrs Usher, who employs around 50 people in both her Tunbridge Wells and London offices.

“In London, the biggest issue is retention, but there is a much bigger talent pool than in Tunbridge Wells. Here, the story around what local businesses can offer people has to change,” she said.

She explained: “The younger generation, the Millennials, are so much different to older people. You have to have a completely different approach because they have a very different criteria.”

She says simply offering competitive salaries is not enough for retention the key was ‘empowering’ and ‘emboldening’ younger employees.

“This is absolutely massive,” she said. “It is so important to give them social perks – flexible working, ensuring they go home on time.”

She added that GingerMay offer ‘training passports’ to give employees clear visibility of their progression.

“We also provide coaches who are independent and come in and work with them to find out what issues they have. These can be tiny things but they can sit and stew on them and they can become magnified so we try to embolden them to raise any issues so that we can iron them out,” added Mrs Usher.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter