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EXPERT EYE: Morgan Ryder – evolve or risk extinction

Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to create the “perfect storm” for companies facing a major challenge in recruiting new staff. And, according to Terry Murphy, managing director of Morgan Ryder’s executive search division, organisations that have not, or are not at least ready to evolve and adapt to a new market where candidates are “calling the shots”, they risk extinction.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there was a further increase in vacancies across the UK in the final three months of 2021. At the end of the year the number of vacant positions was up from 1.21m to almost 1.25m. This is 53.8% higher than the 811,000 figure for February 2020 – just before the start of the pandemic.

“Currently, businesses are doing well, demand is far greater than supply,” added Terry. “The result is increasing salary levels, package negotiations, counter offers, all concurrent with multiple job offers. Yes, candidates are indeed calling the shots, however, with the correct approach, there is a lot a company can do to bring balance to this situation.”

Just 20 years ago, 80% of Morgan Ryder’s business came from within a 20-mile radius of its Knowsley headquarters. Today, the business has a global reach, working with clients across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America.

Specialising in finding and recruiting talent in manufacturing and third-party logistics sectors, the firm has four divisions that include executive appointments, professional/qualified appointments, the UK’s only HR recruitment business that is dedicated to manufacturing, and an outsourced services division that works with clients to remove the true cost of externally sourced talent.

Terry explains: “Gone are the days where an organisation (or recruiter) can guarantee success by simply placing an advert on a job board managing the “wave” of enquiries until you attract the correct CV.

“Candidates just aren’t searching for jobs like they were in 2019, and with most of the sector’s talent sitting dormant or passive, you really need to ask yourself, “how do we capture their attention and pull them onto the job market?” This is where there needs to be a shift in an employer’s approach.”

Collectively, Morgan Ryder is more of an “integrator”, able to offer end-to-end, added value support in manufacturing or third-party logistics environments. From strategy, resource planning, benchmarking, employer branding, hiring manager interview competencies, through to rationalisation and consolidation of externally sourced recruitment support.

“We can handle the whole business process from start to finish. To do this, we need to get to know a customer’s business inside out. “It is more of a partnership.

“Our teams have very exciting jobs. For example, they will tour facilities to see first-hand, how cars are assembled, how aircraft wing components are machined, how raw ingredients can produce thousands of bottles of Gin and how automation can take time out of warehouse operations.”

Morgan Ryder’s team of consultants are specialists in areas such as sales and marketing, finance, HR, supply chain and procurement, quality, engineering, operations and research and development.

“Their clients operate in sectors including automotive, aerospace, chemical, food and drink, pharmaceutical, packaging, plant automation and 3PL, which is ports, warehousing, transport, freight and shipping – both large firms and SMEs.”

Morgan Ryder’s group managing director, Peter Ross, is also vice-chair of the Liverpool City Region Employment and Skills Board. He reports that sectors across the city region are struggling to recruit the right staff.

Every sector represented on the board is experiencing huge challenges when it comes to retaining and recruiting staff,” he said. “Hospitality, professional services, construction, healthcare, education and manufacturing and logistics are some of the sectors represented and facing these challenges.”

He reports that, in some cases, London law firms are taking full advantage of the shift towards working from home (WFH) to swoop in and recruit talented people based in the city region. He explained: “They are paying London salaries but allowing people to remain WFH in Liverpool city region.”

Terry believes the recruitment market, distorted by both the pandemic and Brexit, will continue to heavily favour those looking for roles for at least the next 12 months, possibly for up to two years. After that, he believes, things may settle down. However, he added: “There is no doubt that not all of the disruption is temporary.

“We are also seeing a genuine structural change in the market and the smarter employers are looking to get ahead of this. Those who are slow to catch up may find cultural shifts become an existential threat to their businesses.

“WFH is now an established practice. Many more people now want that kind of flexibility from their job and that isn’t going to go away. In the US, they are already well ahead of the game on this but many employers in the UK are still struggling to adjust.

“We are still spending significant time with organisations, laying the foundations for current and future recruitment drives, educating hiring managers on challenges, building and driving employer brands, helping them to react quickly. Companies need to properly prepare for recruitment.

“They must be able to sell their businesses to potential employees. Why should a person resign from their current role and be excited to join your team? Often, we will ask the senior managers or directors of a company what the answer to that question is and they don’t always answer with substance.

“That is where we come in. We can help them shape that message and then articulate through various channels. Increasingly in this market, we must go out and “hunt” for candidates. That cultural shift toward a better work-life balance goes beyond just WFH, said Terry.

“Firms are offering good salaries, that is now a given. So candidates will want to know more about the employer, the personalities of the managers, the culture, and is there a commitment to diversity. All these aspects are now in play.”

One of the major growth areas for Morgan Ryder is in the so-called green economy. An increasing number of businesses are no longer just looking to Government to do the heavy lifting in the battle against climate change. They are being pro-active in their transition to low-carbon and sustainable energy.

For example, the company is now very active across the Electric Vehicle (EV) supply chain, from component manufacturer, through to the charging network for EVs – a booming sector with progressive organisations such as Be.EV creating new and exciting career opportunities and growing headcount in the region.

Such a buoyant recruitment market has been good news for Morgan Ryder, with the company’s services heavily in demand. All four divisions are performing strongly, and it is likely Q1 2022 will see record revenues for the business.

But, says Terry, the team has worked hard for every extra pound. “This performance hasn’t been easy,” he explained. “The talent-related challenges that our customers face are substantial, with no signs of it easing on the horizon. The cost of recruitment is continually increasing.

“However, the team here is incredible, they possess significant knowledge of the areas that they specialise in, we have robust, lean methods of best practice and have a 20-year network of millions of professionals globally.

“Although we work across the world, everyone is based here at our headquarters at the Paramount Business Park in Knowsley.

“Recruitment is a fast-moving environment. We have industry leading workforce stability, with our longest serving team member hitting 21 years this year. This is a great business to be part of, we are proud of what we have built, and we look forward with confidence.”

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