6th October 2021

Hidden Workers: Tapping overlooked talent pools to reduce worker shortages


Solving worker shortages requires more than just tweaking visa policy

So, the government U-turn we predicted a few weeks back on bringing in foreign workers to combat the growing crisis of HGV driver shortages has come to pass…  We didn’t need a crystal ball for that one!

Long queues, filling stations shut and violence flaring between anxious customers are just some of the symptoms that finally brought the situation to a head. In flurry of crisis fuelled activity that it described as “moving heaven and Earth”, the UK relaxed migrant worker policy allowing temporary visas for 5,000 HGV drivers.

However, as many observers point out, the effects won’t be instant and this action can only be a temporary fix. It equates to no more than sticking plaster over a running sore. The solution to the problem requires joined up thinking and structured reasoning that translates into effective long term policy.

Besides recruiters and hirers, it may also be of interest to policy makers that a new report suggests part of the answer to the worker shortage crisis may actually be embedded within the existing populations of nations around the world, including Australia and the US. The report ‘Hidden Workers, Untapped Talent’ is the output of some research carried out by Accenture in partnership with Harvard Business School.

The factors helping create pools of overlooked talent

The report highlights the ‘hidden worker’ phenomenon. Three key elements identified are:

They hone in on candidates, using very specific parameters, in order to minimise the number of applicants that are actively considered. For example, most use parameters such as a degree or possession of precisely described skills to define the possession of attributes such as skills, work ethic, and self-efficacy.

Failure to meet criteria such as a gap in full-time employment is also used to filter out applicants, irrespective of any other qualifications they may possess.

As a result, they exclude from consideration viable candidates who could perform at a high level with training. 88% of survey respondent companies said that qualified high-skills candidates, and 94% of middle-skills workers are filtered out.

How recruiters unlock the potential of hidden talent

Clearly, the research suggests ATS systems may be inflexibly configured and rejecting many potentially suitable candidates. In short, the criteria used to reject applicants are applied too severely. The report contains a number of suggestions for unlocking the potential of the hidden talent pool. As a matter of priority, it is probably worth recruitment agencies considering working with their clients to:

The findings of the research in the recent global study, which included a survey of more than 8,000 hidden workers and more than 2,250 executives across the US, the UK, and Germany is readily transposed to developed economies around the world battling with similar talent problems.

In the US, as many as 27 million people remain on the fringes of the workforce while companies struggle to recruit talent. With UK worker shortages way in excess of one million, tapping into the pools of hidden workers is likely to be a key part of the permanent solution to worker shortages.

Tap into hidden pools of over looked talent with ETZ

Talent is talent, wherever and however your discover it. ETZ’s market leading timesheet, invoicing and payment solution lets recruitment agencies transform efficiency of back office processing, for all agency workers and contractors.

ETZ is a hub that allows you to integrate your other favoured applications, including accounting platforms such as Xero and Quickbooks, and ATS platforms such as JobAdder and Bullhorn. To find out more about how we simplify the complexity of RecTech for agencies like yours, call us on +61 (0) 405 458 821 or book a demo.

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