Britain is experiencing a chronic skills shortage and Brexit is only making it worse.

That’s according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, who say that staff shortages are occurring across a range of sectors.

REC’s chief executive Kevin Green said in a statement: “We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty.”

Not only is the domestic pool of workers smaller, EU migrants who might once have filled roles are less likely to apply for jobs in the UK. The weaker pound has lessened the euro-value of their earnings and many are unsure about their right to remain in the country.

With demand for staff growing across all sectors and regions in the UK, companies are finding it increasingly hard to fill vacancies – and recruiting exceptional talent in these circumstances is a challenge for many businesses. If you want to attract top performers, here’s how to stand out from the competition and hire the skills you need…

The facts about recruiting exceptional staff

A great engineer can solve complex problems that others may not grasp, a top salesperson can outperform the rest of the team, and a talented CEO can reverse the fortunes of a struggling company. As Mark Zuckerberg once said, “someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good. They are 100 times better.”

Star performers are more valuable to your company than you might think. According to leadership consulting firm Bain & Company, top performers are four times more productive than the average employee. Within organisations, the top 1% of staff is responsible for 10% of productivity. The next 4% is responsible for 16% of output, the next 85% for 74%, and the remaining 10% are pure cost and have no output.

At some companies, the difference is even greater. Bain & Company found that top talent at Apple Inc were 25 times more productive than average workers, while A-players at Google were 300 times more productive than the standard employee.

Assemble a team of all-star performers and the results can be outstanding. A five-member team made entirely of top performers can produce 16 times as much as the sum of five average people working individually, says Michael Mankins of Bain & Co.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, he uses the example of a NASCAR pit crew. A standard pit involves 73 separate manoeuvres, including changing tires and refuelling. The fastest team can finish a pit in 12.12 seconds. Remove one of the best crewmen and replace him with someone average and it takes 24 seconds to complete the same pit. Replace two of the best with average crewmen and it takes more than 45 seconds.

So how do you identify exceptional performers?
First, it helps to know what characteristics they share. The five leading attributes of top performers are:

•    Problem solving
•    Passion
•    Strategic thinking
•    Self-direction
•    Drive

To identify exceptional peformers, look at a candidate’s experience, demonstrated by their track record, as well as effort – those qualities of passion and drive conveyed in an interview.

Six ways to recruit exceptional talent

1. Inspire top performers to apply
Elite candidates are in demand and can pick and choose. While salary and benefits are important, high performers cite ‘inspiration’ as the leading reason for changing jobs. They want a role that will challenge them and give them genuine opportunities to grow – and they want to be part of a company/brand that they believe in.

Job ads should include your organisation’s mission statement / vision and convey the impact of the work that the successful candidate will be doing. Will they be designing products that will leave the world a better place? Working on a cutting-edge project, or shaping the future direction of their industry?

Of course, it’s not enough to just hire top talent – you also need to keep them. Employing inspirational leaders is one of the best ways to keep high performers engaged on the job. The best managers are passionate, not just about the products or services your company offers, but how that product or service improves the lives of your customers.

As Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks said: “Coffee is what we sell as a product, but it’s not the business we’re in. We’re in the people business. I’m passionate about human connection…. When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

2. Make the application process simple
Many organisations unwittingly eliminate top talent early in the recruitment process. Research shows that 4% of applications are lost for every minute it takes to fill in an application. The average application should take no more than six minutes to complete and have less than 10 questions.

3. Create a positive experience
Follow up quickly with top talent when they apply, and communicate frequently and transparently throughout the recruitment process whether that’s directly or through a recruitment agency.

4. Structure interviews to identify the 5 key attributes
Ensure your recruitment process is structured to identify the key attributes of top performers. An outside agency, such as Delisle-Barrow Recruitment, can help you analyse which of those attributes are most relevant to the role and your company and how to identify them in candidates. We’ll also demonstrate to you the best way to apply this to your selection process.

5. Offer something that matters
When negotiating, think beyond financial rewards and offer things that matter to the candidate. For example, team or office environment, prestige of a project or task, the learning experience, etc.

6. Have high-performers interview candidates
Average workers may feel threatened by top performers, and so favour candidates who ‘fit in’ with the current team – preferring to overlook those who may raise the bar and make them look bad. Avoid this by having your top performers take part in the selection process.

How can Delisle-Barrow Recruitment help you?
Delisle-Barrow Recruitment has partnered with ALS Assessment to help clients identify exceptional talent either at the shortlisting or the on-boarding stage of recruitment. By working with your team onsite, and using predictive analytics, we will assist you in developing a recruitment process which helps your company to consistently attract exceptional talent and improve retention rates.