Sarah Arnold
Sarah Arnold

If the staffing sector wants to be valued as a professional service, it needs to raise entry level standards and train talent instead of just rewarding top billers.

How should staffing firms make the most of their talent and technology to adapt to new workforce trends? This year’s World Leaders in Recruitment Summit was designed around this and related questions that have been debated in PointSix events in 2021 to help senior execs make better strategic decisions for 2022.

After the accelerated adoption of talent tech through the pandemic, where has it delivered the best impact and ROI for recruiters? What new models and services will drive the next phase of tech transformation? With unprecedented demand for experienced recruitment talent, how can recruiters build better employer and partner brands? How are new workforce trends changing client and candidate demands?

In the midst of post-Brexit/COVID-19 skills and talent shortages, what is the role of the recruitment sector in training to fill demand and driving greater diversity and inclusion?
Supported by partners including Bullhorn, Introhive, Odro and SourceBreaker, this year’s Summit brought together over 80 CEOs and senior executives from the UK’s top 500 staffing firms to learn from peers and experts in panel debates and roundtable discussions.

Opening the Summit with his keynote market observations, Mark Cahill, MD of ManpowerGroup UK, highlighted the forces driving both digital and business transformation – from the rapid rise in remote work to an increased focus on ESG metrics, strategic talent management, and platformisation to better optimise data and insight for skills mapping.  “Those companies digitising most are creating the most jobs, with 86% of employers that are automating planning to increase or maintain their headcount,” he observed.

“To adapt to new workforce trends, we need to build, buy, borrow and bridge,” he added.
“Invest in L&D programmes to grow your internal talent pipeline; recruit externally for talent that cannot be built in-house in the required timeframe; cultivate communities of non-permanent workers to complement existing workers; and help people to move up into new roles within your organisation.”

“Staffing firms are in the midst of a transformation similar to that seen by the large professional services companies.” Anthony Genas, Industry Director, Introhive

Adoption & Intergration
The first speaker panel explored drivers for transformation and how to get the best ROI from tech.
Scott Siwicki, Group Client Solutions Director at RGF Staffing UK, explained that they built their own bespoke platform to streamline the process for recruiters and candidates and bring it up to standard for a 21st century recruitment business. It won the TIARA 2021 Tech Transformation Award for its impact on the business. “Adoption was driven by good integration with complementary platforms and training from good partners,” he added.

SourceBreaker was one of these partners. “Training is a vital part of adoption and senior leadership involvement, from setting a clear vision to attending sessions, boosts buy-in,” said CRO Adam Dale. Asked to predict the next big thing for talent tech, he added: “Recruitment is a people business. Tech needs to enable better interaction with candidates by automating the sourcing element.”

This latter point was echoed by Affi Khan, CEO of CPL UK – Technology and Healthcare, who said: “Before deciding what to automate, map your customer journey and determine where the friction points are to better manage the relationship between candidate and client. You have to understand your value add, stay focussed on it and decide if you’re a tech business or a recruitment business.”
This led into the next panel on the trends and models enabling growth for recruiters, with many staffing firms exploring RPO and platforms to generate new sources of revenue.

“Staffing firms are in the midst of a transformation similar to that seen by the large professional services companies,” said Anthony Genas, Industry Director at Introhive. “The staffing firm of the future is one that takes advantage of its relationships, knowledge and database to increase margins by diversifying into other talent related revenue streams like outsourcing and advisory roles. Not just placing people but consulting on best practices.”

Katie Folwell-Davies, Investment Director of Twenty20 Capital, said technology was enhancing the human element in recruitment and its equity value. “I’ve seen a lot of recruiters using PR and terminology to sound more like SaaS businesses to achieve a higher multiple on valuation but there is a massive risk to building your own tech if it’s too bespoke. It’s better to partner with a good provider,” she observed.

Brendon Flood, Executive Director of Staffing 360 Solutions, said recruiters should optimise technology to be better recruiters, not to become recruitment technology companies.
“Tech must be an enabler to everything we do,” he explained. “To grow our business, we needed to use tech to move into markets where we can work remotely. Things that can be commoditised should be but it’s our market insight, candidate knowledge and talent networks that differentiates us.”

If you can’t evidence the strengths in your business, it’s not a strength – whether it’s DE&I or purpose – so authenticity is our focus.” Natasha Crump, ESG Director, Amoria Bond

Commenting on this point, Amoria Bond chairperson Gary Elden said he had seen various tech players trying to disrupt recruitment but failing to build a big enough pool of candidates. “Whoever controls the candidates, controls the market,” he said.

Saira Demmer, CEO of SF Recruitment, said the role of technology hadn’t changed much in simply eliminating any tasks or admin that wastes consultant time. However, having recently announced a new employee ownership model for her business, she felt that it had a new role to play. “We want our people to be more autonomous masters of their destiny, working how and where they want to, so technology needs to support their learning, coaching and leadership development as well as their productivity and wellbeing,” she explained.

Bullhorn’s Account Director, Stuart Johnson, observed that the two key tech trends playing out are automation and self-service. “Twelve months ago, our customers were running 2 million automations a month through our technology. It’s 2 million a day. Technology advances have changed customer expectations around self-service. Customers now want a Netflix experience, where relevant roles and opportunities are served up to them when they are ready through an app. Broadly speaking, recruitment is still offering a Blockbuster experience where the onus is on the customer to sift through a warehouse of opportunity themselves.”

TA Challenges
The second half of the Summit looked at the talent challenges facing recruiters and their clients. TALiNT Partners Employer Programme Director, Debra Sparshott, set the scene with a summary of insights from the latest Employer Benchmark Survey.

“The priorities for corporate employers and TA teams are finding an easy talent mapping tool so they know what they have and gaps they need to fill; tapping into wider and deeper market knowledge to find the right candidates; creating more emotional engagement with candidates to reduce the frequency of drop-outs; and balancing their employer and customer brand,”

Debra explained. “DE&I is central to their workforce strategy, but they know they need help from their recruitment partners on this as well.” But how are recruiters building their own employer and partner brands at a time when they’re competing for recruitment talent?

A panel on this topic kicked off with Tim Cook, Group CEO of nGage Recruitment, asked why the recruitment industry has a bad reputation for attrition. “The churn tends to be at the front end; if it’s too easy to join a recruitment business, it’s easy to leave,” he said. “We need to set a professional services benchmark to attract the right people, then pay the right money and give the right training to develop them so they can grow a division, not just a desk.”

Is the Great Resignation impacting recruitment? “It’s a fact and we call it the Great Reshuffle,” said Adam Hawkins, Head of Staffing EMEA & LATAM at LinkedIn. “People are thinking carefully about their next move and have different expectations of what they’re looking for from work since the pandemic. Our latest survey data found that 46% of consultants are considering a change of role, and 19% want it to align with their personal purpose. When recruiters, or young people coming into industry, are looking for jobs today they want to understand a company’s flexible working policy, its culture and values, and its approach to diversity and inclusion. These are all factors contributing to people’s career decisions and it’s giving firms pause for thought.”

Amoria Bond defended its Best Recruitment Company to Work For title for a second year at the 2021 TIARA Recruitment Awards for its 12-times return on investment in training and development. “If you can’t evidence the strengths in your business, it’s not a strength– whether it’s DE&I or purpose – so authenticity is our focus,” explained Natasha Crump, Amoria Bond’s ESG Director. “Employees are the best brand ambassadors for the business, so we have showed them how to build authentic personal brands that highlight our strengths – which has improved D&I and attracted more clients and candidates.”

“We need to set a professional services benchmark to attract the right
people, then pay the right money and give the right training to develop them so they can grow a division, not just a desk.” Tim Cook, Group CEO, nGage Recruitment

Explaining the role of video in this, Dougie Loan, CRO of Odro, said: “Video helps to foster a higher level of trust with a more authentic personal brand, and we’ve seen this with our own business. Employee generated content has attracted 39 of the 48 people working at Odro.”
The final panel offered some predictions on workforce trends and how recruiters
should adapt.

“Workers will increasingly look for meaning, equity and flexibility from employers,” said workforce futurist Andrew Spence, who added that side hustles will become more prevalent for those seeking the control, autonomy, and money they are not getting from their day job.
In order to deliver the right candidates for the right roles, recruiters will need to invest in their candidate and contractor communities.

Commenting on its own lifetime candidate initiative, Gattaca CEO Kevin Freeguard said:
“We have focused on building trusted relationships with candidates to nurture and develop their careers. Contractors work for us for decades because we care about their progression.”
Mike Ruddle, CCO of NHS Professionals, said the candidate knowledge from partner agencies and their expertise in nurturing them into new NHS roles was vital through the pandemic. He also saw the impact of training, which is a key priority for 2022. “If we are to build long-term relationships with our contingent workers we need to invest in their training and development just as we would for our own employees.”

The Summit closed with an emotional keynote from Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup, who talked about how his perspective on disability – as an employer and a recruiter – changed after a skiing accident left him paralysed.

“Disability is an important part of the diversity debate and there is an opportunity to unlock a largely ignored workforce to address talent shortages,” he said. “We need to focus on the ability and resilience of people who have overcome physical and mental health challenges – and empower people to be more open about them – to make organisations more inclusive.”

Just as the recruitment sector needs to improve the way it’s perceived – so it’s recognised and valued as a professional service – it must be a more authentic and inspirational champion
of inclusivity.

Recruitment in Numbers

• £36.4bn The total turnover of UK’s top 500 recruiters in 2020 compared to£40.8bn in 2019 (TALiNT International Recruitment Power List 2021)
• US$20.8bn The global RPO revenue forecast in 2027, after 18.5% CAGR from 2020-27 (Grand View Research)
• 59% Of employees were hired from previous recruiting roles, up from 33% in 2020 (LinkedIn

View the full magazine here:


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The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has launched revised Codes of Compliance, which it says are tougher and even more transparent than previous versions.

Following a review that took five months, the new codes provide added assurance to agencies, hirers and contractors, according to the FCSA.

In particular, member firms must now provide more transparency to contractors, particularly in relation to holiday pay in umbrella employment contracts and on payslips.

Umbrella companies have come under repeated fire this year, with claims some unscrupulous providers withhold holiday pay and other benefits owed to workers. In April MP Ruth Cadbury went as far as to call for umbrella firms to be banned due to “significant malpractice” in the industry.

Legitimate umbrella providers have argued, however, that especially given the introduction of new IR35 rules earlier this year, there’s a clear need for such structures.

“As market conditions change so too must our codes,” said Phil Pluck, the FCSA’s Chief Executive. “This is to ensure the highest standards of compliance are continued to be met by our member firms. Which is why now, we’re announcing the launch of our latest Code revisions.

“The most comprehensive and compliant set of evidence-based standards now exist in our sector. No one else in the sector can give contractors or the supply chain this level of assurance.”

The FCSA has also introduced new pre-requisite and due diligence checks on all new applicants, which must be passed before proceeding to the accreditation assessment stage.

It said each step in the assessment process is conducted by independent and regulated accountants and solicitors, all with considerable experience in the sector. No member of FCSA staff, the board or membership are involved in this process.

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The quest for ‘meaningful work’ is the most important factor in choosing a job, according to a new survey by leading financial recruitment company Core-Asset Consulting.

In a survey of professionals working across the financial, accounting and legal sectors in Scotland, people were asked to rank the importance of eight factors in choosing a job.

Key findings:

  • ‘Meaningful work’ was most frequently ranked as the top reason in people choosing a job
  • ‘Pay & benefits’ was the most commonly cited 2nd, 3rd and 4th factors
  • ‘Flexible working’ was most frequently cited as the least important factor


  • Career progression
  • Company reputation
  • Location/length of commute
  • Flexible working
  • Meaningful work
  • Pay & benefits
  • Work-life balance
  • Working culture

Commenting on the survey, Betsy Williamson*, Managing Director of Core-Asset Consulting, said:

“It may come as a surprise to many that ‘meaningful work’ is the most common number one factor in people choosing a job, particularly as this is a survey of financial, accounting and legal professionals.


“But however you interpret the term ‘meaningful work’, it seems clear that white collar professionals are now seeking much more from their career than material rewards. The implications for employers is far reaching.


“To retain valuable employees, companies need to clearly articulate the driving purpose of its firm beyond the simple pursuit of profit, and how a particular department, team and individual fits into this bigger picture. This can include things such as the creation of a financially secure future for customers, tackling environmental issues and transforming local communities.


“Failure to do so not only means employers will have staff retention issues, they will also struggle to attract the very best talent.


“It’s very much a candidate-driven market now – particularly in hard-to-fill areas such as risk and compliance. Companies that recognise the importance of ‘meaningful work’ will do better in attracting and retaining the best people.


“But all this comes with a caveat: ‘over-selling’ roles comes with a similar risk of creating disillusioned employees. A delicate balance must be struck between aspiration and authenticity.”

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61% of people looking for a new job in 2017 say they’d have a negative perception of any company that enforced a dress code.

Meanwhile, the majority of UK workers say they would feel more productive and put more effort into their appearance if there wasn’t a dress code, according to a study by Stormline.

78% of respondents said that even without a dress code, they’d still make an effort to dress well and would make a clear distinction between ‘work clothes’ and ‘non-work clothes’.

Of those, 91% said they felt the quality and condition of what they wore was more important than whether it complied with a dress code and they would be more likely to spend more on clothes if they had more choice in what they wore.

68% said they were more likely to trust a well-dressed colleague to do a good job than someone in the same position who ‘didn’t make an effort’, but clothing style and formality didn’t have a significant influence on perceptions of competence. This suggests that we want to dress to impress, but resent being told what to wear.

Of those who are required to observe a dress code which is sometimes relaxed (for example on ‘dress down Friday’), 61% say they feel more productive when the dress code is relaxed.

Attitudes to company dress codes between the sexes

Women Men
A strict dress code would give me a negative perception of a business 60% 62%
A strict dress code would give me a positive perception of a business 22% 24%
A strict dress code would not change my perception of a business 18% 14%
I believe workplace dress codes are discriminatory to the opposite sex 63% 77%
I believe workplace dress codes are discriminatory to my sex 81% 61%
I am more productive and happier when I can dress how I like (only respondents who work somewhere with a dress code that is sometimes relaxed, for example on ‘dress down Friday’ answered this) 58% 64%
I don’t believe workplace dress codes are useful (only respondents who work somewhere with a dress code answered this) 78% 82%

When asked to select the dress code requirement – from a list of common requirements –  that gave the most negative impression of a business, people were most likely to select something that affected themselves due to their sex.

The most commonly selected dress code requirement among women (59%) was being asked to wear high heeled shoes. Among men, the most commonly selected item was being required to wear a tie (41%).

Other requirements that created a negative impression of a business were restrictions on piercings (men – 12%, women 19%) and requiring tattoos to be covered up (men 17%, women 10%).

Occupational health expert, Sir Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology & health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, believes that formal dress codes have had their day. He said, “Uniforms and workwear that protect the wearer or help them be identified have obvious utility, but I don’t see the point in asking someone to wear a tie around their neck or to specify the colour of their shoes.

“Employers should trust their people enough to let them dress how they please. They may wish to advise on items they don’t want to see in the office, but to specify what they must wear is highly patronising.

“We must also consider the challenges of a formal dress code for people with disabilities, both hidden and visible, and chronic illnesses. Psoriasis sufferers, for example, may struggle wearing a buttoned up collar but may not feel confident in asking for exemption from the dress code.”

Regan McMillan, director of Stormline, thinks dress codes are useful to some industries and a hindrance in others and commented, “I think there’s a big difference between workwear, uniforms and dress codes. If you’re working in a dangerous environment, for example fishing, then the rules are about safety. If you’re public-facing, a uniform can help people identify you when they need you, but I can’t really think of a good reason why a web developer or a project manager would want – or need – to be told what to wear.

“Yet businesses in the UK still seem oddly keen on making their talent dress in specific, often very restrictive ways. Our research suggests that this sort of attitude could actually be harming businesses and their ability to attract the top talent, while creating some low level disgruntlement among their teams.”

Case Study

One respondent to the study, who didn’t want his name to be published, said that the dress code in place at his current place of work is the primary reason he is looking to move on.

He said, “I work in the I.T department of a financial services business, so on the one hand we’re a regulated company in a serious industry, but on the other hand, myself and my team spend a lot of our days in server rooms or under desks unplugging equipment, so wearing a suit just means we waste a lot of time taking our jackets off and putting them on again.

“The company policy here is strict, to the point that shoes must be black, men must be clean-shaven and shirts must be plain, not patterned. Ties are compulsory. I resent being told how to dress, especially when a lot of my friends who have similar jobs can dress how they like, doing the same work, but for more progressive companies.

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Claire Leigh, managing director of Brampton Recruitment, shares her thoughts on holiday pay and how temporary workers can ensure they receive what they are entitled to.

Temporary workers have a contract with an agency, but work on a temporary basis for an employer. This differentiates them from full-time employees and the self-employed.

The Agency Worker’s Regulations (2010) which details a worker’s rights, state that all temporary workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday a year, pro rata.

As temporary workers may not have consistent hours, many do not understand how to calculate their holiday pay and entitlement.

Holiday pay is accrued at a rate of 12.07 per cent of gross pay, therefore it is important that workers keep a detailed record of their earnings.

To put this into context, if a temporary worker is paid £7.50 per hour they will accrue holiday pay at the rate of just over 90p per hour.

Keeping a record of how many hours they have worked may also be useful for temporary workers, but is not essential for calculating holiday pay.

Twelve weeks

Although holiday pay begins accruing immediately, after twelve weeks a temporary worker is entitled to the same working conditions and basic pay, or to be paid within the same salary bracket as a permanent member of staff doing comparable work.

In terms of holiday pay, this means if permanent workers are entitled to more than the minimum of 28 days paid holiday, a temporary worker should receive the same if they have been working for more than twelve weeks.

However, employer benefits which are calculated through a payroll system, such as healthcare might not be offered to a temporary member of staff. After twelve weeks if a temporary worker is with the same agency they will be enrolled onto an autoenrollment pension.

Help and advice

Recruitment agencies should be the first point of contact for any temporary workers concerned or confused about holiday pay or benefits. At Brampton Recruitment, we explain these rights upon registration and again upon placing a candidate in a role.

Temporary workers who have found their role through Brampton Recruitment will have this information in writing in a new starter pack, however we encourage anybody registered with us to get in contact for further advice if it is required.

Alternatively, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides advice on all areas of employment law, on its website and helpline.

As more people are turning to temporary work, it is essential that this growing pool of workers are aware of their rights. Although legislation can be confusing, help is available to ensure temporary workers fully understand their entitlement to paid holiday and other benefits.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has welcomed an Employment Tribunal decision that ruled that a temporary worker did not accrue holiday leave while on furlough, saying it provides much needed clarity for recruitment agencies.

Mr D Perkins v The Best Connection Group Limited (TBCGL) concerned a contract for services worker who had been placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The Tribunal was asked to consider whether or not the claimant should be entitled to accrue holiday pay while furloughed. It ruled he should not because he was not a worker for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

It also highlighted that the terms of his contract with the agency were such that the agreement only existed when he was on assignment. It specified that he would not “receive payment from TBC or its clients for any time not spent on assignment whether in respect of holidays, illness or absence for any other reason”.

As he was unable to work for TBCGL while on furlough, the judge ruled the claimant could not be interpreted to be on assignment.

The ruling is aligned with government guidance on the accrual of holiday pay for furloughed agency workers, which states: “Some agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments.”

Lorraine Laryea, Director of Recruitment Standards and Compliance at the REC, said: “One of the major issues for recruiters in 2020 as they considered whether to engage with the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough temporary workers, was whether holiday and holiday pay would accrue for those workers who were placed on furlough.

“The REC lobbied the government extensively to release guidance on exactly this, which resulted in advice being published in May 2020. However, this isn’t statutory guidance and it’s important to bear in mind that the judgment is a first instance decision, meaning that other Employment Tribunals presented with similar cases could reach a different decision.

“However, the analysis in this case, which draws out the specific nature of temporary workers on contracts for services and the interaction with the holiday pay legislation and furlough provisions, is compelling and in the view of the REC more accurately reflects how the law should apply in these types of claims.”

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Digitisation, strategic workforce planning and more agile HR are among the most pressing people management issues HR leaders should focus on during the post-pandemic phase.

That was the finding of a large-scale study carried out by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA).

The two organisations surveyed more than 6,600 respondents in 113 countries and interviewed more than 30 executives at leading companies and start-ups worldwide for the report entitled Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities.

“Our results offer critical guidance for CHROs, senior people management executives, and all other leaders – including CEOs – aiming to build a future-proof workforce and workplace to support execution of their company strategy,” said Jens Baier, a senior partner at BCG and co-author of the report.

Key focus areas
The report considered 32 people management topics, ranking them according to the future importance of each topic, as well as companies’ current capabilities for addressing each one.

The authors then came up with a list of three key priority topics, broadly defined as areas that respondents recognised as being highly important in future, but where their current capabilities were lacking.

The first was digitisation, including the use of new technologies such as people analytics, cloud-based applications, AI and robotics.

The authors noted that ‘digital, AI, cloud and robotics in HR’ was the capability ranked lowest by those surveyed, and by some way.

“This is a distressing result, given the prevalence of technology in all aspects of a company’s operations, including people management,” said the report.

The second was talent, including strategic workforce planning, leadership development, upskilling and reskilling, and working with an ecosystem of employees, contractors and other types of labour.

Within that, a key finding in the report was the need to create personalised experiences for employees. Of the survey respondents, 85% said focusing on employee needs and expectations was a key factor in succeeding in the increasingly intense war for talent.

“Companies today must navigate an exceedingly challenging business environment – and strong, proactive people management is the only way to ensure that companies have the right talent in place to succeed,” said Bob Morton, President of the WFPMA and co-author of the report. “A data-driven, objective approach that places people at the front and centre of work can help HR leaders allocate scarce resources to the most urgent priorities.”

The final topic identified was the future of work, including more agile HR, the incorporation of ‘smart’ work, and change management.

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The recovery of family businesses from the pandemic will be crucial in the rebuilding of the UK economy, according to not-for-profit membership organisation IFB Research Foundation (IFBRF).


The IFBRF’s latest report revealed that family firms were in rude health before the onset of the pandemic. Its research found that in 2019, family businesses made up almost 30% of the UK’s national income.


In the same year, more than 100,000 new family businesses were created across the UK, with 5.2 million family firms in total, employing more than 14 million people.


Sir Michael Bibby, Chairman of the IFB Research Foundation, said: “This latest report from the IFB Research Foundation shows how, before the Covid-19 pandemic, family businesses were playing a critical role in the UK economy. The evidence highlights how the sector had been performing well and was largely optimistic about the future.


“The pandemic is likely to have had a dramatic impact on the outlook, and expectations of many UK small and medium-sized enterprises and this report will give us a great base from which to analyse the changes especially given some of the sectors in which family firms are most concentrated have been those hardest hit by Covid-19.”


IFB Director General Elizabeth Bagger added: “This report from the IFB Research Foundation clearly shows how significant family businesses are to the strength, stability, and success of UK private enterprise. Before the pandemic, family businesses were growing exponentially. Family firms are the driving force across all regions, communities, and sectors of the UK and as such, are pivotal to the future prosperity of the country as we emerge from the pandemic. We must therefore ensure that family businesses are supported to recover and grow.”


She said that government-funded initiatives such as Evolve Digital, run by the Lancaster University Management School and part of a national research study aimed at feeding into government policy on small family businesses, should prove useful in helping businesses navigate the changing landscape.


“Supporting the adoption of new technologies can help family firms improve their processes and foster innovation, with the move towards these new technologies a trend which has been accelerated by the pandemic.”


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People analytics solution will support recruiters managing hybrid & home working teams

Access Recruitment has added to its growing portfolio of staffing industry SaaS solutions with the acquisition of Bristol based NorthStar, whose solution brings appraisal, recruitment analytics and businesses mapping together in one place.

“We are passionate about innovating to help recruiters run and grow their businesses,” said Paul Vogel, MD of Access Recruitment. “The addition of NorthStar to our portfolio of recruitment software allows agencies to translate their data into meaningful action. With many businesses now operating hybrid home/office teams, it has never been more important to have full visibility of your business operations and also critically to support your consultants to develop their skills.

“We have a long history of working together, with NorthStar originally being built around our CRM product, Access RDB. The platform has evolved to support a range of recruitment agencies across the UK and ANZ and integrates with multiple CRMs, including our latest cloud-based offering, Access Recruitment CRM.”

A major challenge for agencies is managing a growing number of consultants as well as tracking key KPIs as they scale. Access NorthStar enables individual consultants to identify where they are performing well and show areas for improvement. Scores can be shared with their peers to create healthy competition and gives team leaders a ready-made appraisal tool to use with their consultants.

APSCO’s UK Recruitment Index, published in October 2020, highlighted that automation and better use of technology was a key area of improvement, with 40% of recruitment firms with net fee income (NFI) greater than £10 million scoring themselves below 7 out of 10 – and 35% of those with less than £2 million NFI scored lower than 5. The report also highlighted that the largest firms with NFI of £50 million+ gave themselves low scores for retaining talent.

NorthStar was created to solve these challenges by automating analytics to enable better staff performance and engagement by highlighting areas where productivity can be enhanced. The platform pulls data from within an agency’s recruitment CRM visualising it across configurable consultant, team and senior leader dashboards.


“We are so proud of the Northstar product and where the team have taken it,” said Darren Ryemill, founder of NorthStar. “For us, choosing The Access Group as an acquirer was a no-brainer, because we felt that they would be the best people to take the product even further and fulfil its full potential. We are really excited to see where they take to next.”

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The UK construction sector is experiencing the highest levels of demand in years as it strives to recover from the delays and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, this is good news for economic recovery, but David McCormack, CEO of HIVE360, says he is concerned for the mental health and welfare of workers as the sector looks to meet the resourcing challenge.

Workers in high demand

The construction sector needs an extra 217,000 workers by 2025 to meet the post-pandemic bounce-back. *According to the CITB’s Construction Skills Network, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers, with the East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) set to lead demand*.

Over half (53%) of the 2.8 million people working in UK construction are self-employed, on an agency or zero-hours contract, so companies throughout the construction sector supply chain will inevitably turn to recruiters for help with finding and supplying workers.

The creation of new job opportunities is positive, but employers in the sector must follow best practice guidelines and be legally compliant – including with the new IR35 rules – to ensure existing and new workers are treated fairly.

Worker welfare and wellbeing

Globally, the construction industry has one of the poorest records for employee mental health and suicide. The UK’s Office for National Statistics reports the suicide rate in construction is over three times more than the national average – about 400 workers in the UK’s construction and engineering sectors take their own live each year.

UK construction workers are also vulnerable to modern slavery, which covers forced labour and human trafficking.

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It is estimated that there is a large number of people experiencing modern slavery within the UK construction industry**.  Labour employed via sub-contractors or agents are considered most at-risk.

Last year, the government published its long-awaited response to its consultation on transparency in supply chains. Among the measures is a commitment to ‘mandating the key topics that modern slavery statements must cover’, with civil penalties for non-compliance anticipated in ‘due course’. In March 2021, the government launched a new online registry for modern slavery statements, to enable more informed scrutiny of an organisation’s approach to supply chains, with the comparative quality of statements available for all to see.

The risks from modern slavery can occur anywhere in a construction company’s operations – whether this is through direct employment, contractors or subcontractors – and can include failure to pay workers the UK minimum wage, and child labour in extended supply chains.

All construction workers have the right to control their wages, have a written employment contract, be paid on time, keep their passport, choose where they want to stay, change their job, or join a union. As well as this, they should be treated with respect, paid fairly and protected by the law.

The Construction Protocol

The Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), is a Non-Departmental Public Body of the UK Government, and a national enforcement agency whose role is to protect workers from labour exploitation.

To tackle modern slavery in the construction sector, the GLAA has collaborated with leading construction companies to create the Construction Protocol, which brings in the same measures and guidelines seen in the fresh food sector that protect the health and wellbeing of workers.

All signatories have agreed to raise awareness within supply chains to help to prevent and protect construction workers from exploitation or abuse, and take necessary steps to ensure exploitation and abuse of workers is recognised and addressed with appropriate safeguards put in place to ensure that exploitative practice is not repeated.

As a GLAA license holder and signatory of the Construction Protocol, HIVE360 is committed to helping participating companies with payroll and worker wellbeing.

Added benefits

HIVE360 is an expert in recruitment agency PAYE outsourced payroll,  and our HMRC-compliant payroll solution guarantees a speedy and transparent service, with no nasty fees for workers. It also delivers efficiency gains from our payroll, digital payslips, pensions auto-enrolment and pay documentation support.

HIVE360 goes further with our unique customisable engagement app Engage.

Provided as a standard element of our outsourced payroll solution, Engage gives workers access to a range of health and wellbeing benefits and services: 24/7, confidential access to mental health support, counsellors and GPs, 1000s of high street and online discounts, huge mobile phone savings, online training resources, along with a secure digital payslips portal and a real-time workplace pension dashboard to support employees’ financial wellbeing. To ensure the safety of employees in the workplace, we have also introduced an incident reporting system which allows workers to raise serious issues or concerns with their employer directly through the app, anonymously if they choose to.

HIVE360 is an outsourced payroll and employee benefits expert that is championing a new model of employment administration and redefining employment and pension administration processing. Visit:


*CITB: Construction Skills Network forecasts 2021-2025: UK

**GLAA: Construction Industry Protocol

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