As we start the new year, it is clear that Brexit has caused difficulties for the employment market.  There has been a significant drop in the movement of individuals and a lack of permanent positions available due to uncertainty felt by both employers and employees.

The food and drink industry in particular is taking a significant hit with a lack of available workers because it has traditionally been heavily reliant on workers from other EU countries, especially for seasonal jobs.  Speaking at the first annual convention of the Food and Drink Federation in July, Ian Wright, Director General, provided assurances to foreign workers that they are valued.  Ensuring access to labour forms part of the FDF’s post-Brexit manifesto.  Unfortunately, a combination of the drop in the value of the pound and a fear of anti-migrant sentiment is leading to a lack of available applicants and an increase in the turnover of current employees who are choosing to return home.

In previous years, with plentiful applicants, recruitment has not been a key consideration. However, a more strategic approach is now required to ensure that you obtain the best applicants from a reducing talent pool.

Marketing your brand

  • Food and drink businesses are used to looking at how they market their brand to customers. The same consideration now needs to be made to how you market to prospective employees. Use social media to increase brand awareness and market yourself as a caring and responsible employer.
  • Know your competition and consider what stands you apart from them as an employer.

Targeting new talent

  • Attend industry events to raise awareness of your brand, and network and develop relationships with potential employees.
  • Consider your talent pool. Where you have unsuccessful applicants who are not suitable for that particular role, ask permission to retain their details and develop a talent pool to approach individuals when a new position becomes available.
  • Implement an employee referral scheme where an incentive is provided to employees to encourage them to refer others into the business.

Recruitment process

  • Consider how you might streamline your recruitment process.
    • What steps can be removed?
    • How could you save time?

A cumbersome process is not only time-consuming and expensive for you; it may also deter potential applicants from submitting an application.

  • Look at your recruitment process and what information it obtains about the applicant. A traditional interview will only provide you with limited information. Consider other steps which may assist you in having a better idea of the individual and their suitability. Psychometric tests and practical sessions will provide you with a greater understanding of an individual and their skill set. In addition, many organisations are providing projects as part of the interview process. For example, use x ingredients to develop a recipe or we are launching Y project please provide a presentation on how you would market this. When recruiting really consider what you need from the individual in that role and design the recruitment and selection process around this rather than following the standard procedure.
  • Provide feedback for unsuitable applicants as you may wish to recruit them in the future. It is important to leave a positive impression of the brand and encourage them to apply for alternative roles in the future.

Kelly Mitchell is a paralegal in the employment team in Exeter. If you would like to contact the team, please call 01392 210700 or email