Belgian companies facing biggest struggle to attract new employees

Belgian companies facing biggest struggle to attract new employees
Job postings in Brussels. Credit: Lauren Walker/The Brussels Times

In comparison to other EU countries, Belgium experiencing the most difficulties when it comes to attracting new employees and filling vacancies, according to an international survey by HR services provider SD Worx.

The war for talent remains the biggest challenge in the Belgian labour market. In June, the number of vacancies, which has been growing steadily since 2013, reached its highest point on record. Meanwhile, 65% of Belgian employers are struggling to attract employees.

"Companies are facing a major challenge today. Our research confirms that employers in Europe have to be inventive in their search for suitable profiles," said Dominique Tassent, responsible for consultancy for large companies at SD Worx.

Of all European countries included in the survey, Belgium takes the crown. It is followed by the Netherlands and Ireland, where 54% and 53% of employers are struggling to fill vacancies, respectively.

Imbalance between supply and demand

Taking into account the current labour shortage and a large number of vacancies, businesses are more than ever feeling the pressure to position themselves as attractive employers.

According to 59% of Belgian companies, hiring new people has never been so difficult. Employers in France (60%), Italy (56%) and Poland (56%), too, are indicating that this has been a struggle, more so than for the average European company (53%).

Three-quarters (74%) of Belgian employers said it is taking longer to fill vacancies, which was also confirmed by employers in Ireland (69%) and the Netherlands (68%).

Meanwhile, seven in ten Belgian employers find it difficult to find candidates with the right skills. On average, half of the companies surveyed said there is a structural imbalance between supply and demand for talent, which according to many Belgian companies is the underlying cause of the lack of suitable candidates for open vacancies.

Meeting employees half-way

The survey shows that internal mobility and retraining occur in no more than one-third of Belgian companies, lower than the European average.

"Investing in the retraining of existing employees so that they can take on a different role or function within the company" is one of the new avenues in light of the war for talent, according to Ellen Claes, HR Manager SD Worx Belgium, said.

Finally, Belgian employers are trying to make a difference for their employees in a number of areas, including paying attention to training and development opportunities.

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"But flexibility is also an important factor in attracting and retaining employees. Because of the obligation to work from home, many employees have been able to redefine their work-life balance and, more than ever, they are looking for that freedom to improve this balance," Tassent said.

"Employees see it as a great advantage to be able to choose where and when they work, whether from the office or from home. As an employer, it also makes sense to support employees in managing freedom in terms of working hours. It is a factor that cannot be ignored nowadays," he concluded.

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