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HR's pivotal role amidst UK's labour crunch

In the wake of a labour shortage that has gripped the United Kingdom, HR professionals are emerging as the linchpin in businesses’ strategies to navigate this crisis. A recent CBI survey, conducted in collaboration with the Pertemps Network Group, reveals a staggering 71% of UK businesses have felt the pinch of labour shortages in the past year.

Dole UK celebrating their HR Initiative win at the FPC Fresh Awards 2023

Upskilling and Automation: Twin Pillars of Strategy

With 77% of businesses citing access to skills as a potential threat to the UK’s labour market competitiveness, internal training and upskilling of existing employees have become the order of the day. A significant 69% of businesses are investing in this strategy. Automation too is gaining traction, with 60% of firms investing in technology to bolster productivity and mitigate labour dependency.

The Numbers Speak

The worker shortage, which soared to 1.3 million last year as reported by People Management, has hampered firms’ growth and investment capabilities. A worrying 38% of businesses have been stymied in their growth, while 22% have curtailed investments due to these shortages.

The HR Vanguard

“Taking some time to consider what employees and jobseekers are looking for in a job may be a good place to start for HR professionals and employers,” advises Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR. Jim Moore of Hamilton Nash underscores the importance of making work attractive and listening to staff needs, highlighting the value of flexible working.

Fresh Awards Recognition

Back in September Dole UK were honoured with the prestigious HR Initiative of the Year Award at the FPC Fresh Awards 2023, widely known as the Oscars of the fresh produce industry.

Diversity and inclusion are cemented within the business agenda at Dole UK. Having established a four-year plan, the company has taken some bold steps to raise awareness and increase understanding about diversity and inclusion across its UK workforce.

To ensure that all employees feel they can be their true selves at work every day, Dole UK has rolled out online training courses, poster campaigns, employee guides, and linked its events to UK and national campaigns.

To inspire others, the initiative has been shared with the global Dole business.

A Call to Action

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Executive, calls for government support to amplify businesses’ efforts in employee health and skills development. Amidst a looming general election, 82% of firms are clamouring for policies that spur productivity and sustainable growth.

With the labour market’s future hanging in the balance, HR’s role is unequivocally central. Upskilling initiatives, flexible working conditions, and a holistic approach to employee well-being are not just strategies but imperatives to turn the tide in this labour shortage conundrum.


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