Category: Employers

Government has received only 27 applications for temporary work visas

In response to the Government’s announcement regarding the granting of temporary visas to workers in the transport industry, Marian Khaliq, Partner and Head of Immigration at law firm Bishop and Sewel, said that the Government’s hostile post-Brexit immigration policies are responsible for prolonging the shortage of HGV drivers.

Khaliq said: “The Government was forced to act quickly after the shortage of HGV drivers recently resulted in fuel shortages, panic buying and the closure of some petrol stations.

“Other sectors, such as the food industry, have also been affected by labour issues, resulting in shortages of food supplies to supermarkets and restaurants, leading to fears of some foods being unavailable at Christmas.

“To deal with this, the Government will be issuing 4,700 ‘Seasonal Worker’ visas for drivers in the food haulage sector (expiring on 28 February 2022) and 5,500 ‘Seasonal Worker’ visas for poultry workers (which will expire on 31 December 2021). In both instances, the period of visa free access offered appears far too short to incentivise workers to come to the UK.”

Boris Johnson confirmed earlier this week that the Government had only received 27 applications. Other visas in the temporary seasonal worker category are usally granted for six months. Currently it’s estimated there is a labour shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers – triggered by an exodus of foreign nationals during the pandemic, coupled with post-Brexit immigration rules, and self-isolation requirements. The huge number of driver vacancies has been compounded by more general labour shortages affecting meat packing and fruit picking jobs – jobs previously done by EU nationals ­– which have impacted stock levels in supermarkets and fast-food chains.

Mariam continued: “The retail industry warned the government that, unless it took immediate measures to alleviate an acute shortage of haulage drivers, significant disruption was inevitable in the run-up to the Christmas season. In our new post-Brexit world, it is likely we will see the same labour shortage issues occur in other industries, unless the UK Government ceases with its inherently hostile attitude towards immigration.”

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London reports lowest job vacancies with highest number of unemployed

The ONS’s most recently published labour market figures show that vacancy numbers have reached another record high with the number of payroll employees up by 207,000 having surpassed pre-pandemic levels. This is 122,000 higher than levels seen before the pandemic hit in February.

The UK’s employment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points last quarter to 75.3%, while the unemployment rate was down 0.4 percentage points to 4.5%.

The ONS stated that the number of job vacancies increased by 318,000, with all industry sectors above or equal to the levels seen between January to March last year, before the first lockdown.

Record vacancies may not be good news

According to analysis of job listings by Adzuna, people looking for work may not be in the right areas to fill them, with different regions facing different employment challenges. London is by far the worst place for workers to be in if looking for employment, with more people looking for work than jobs advertised. The capital city had 13.4% of over 16 unemployed or furloughed which was the highest in the country. Vacancies were 104% of what they were pre-pandemic, but this was the smallest growth nationally.

The opposite is true in Northern Ireland, where vacancies grew 154%, the second steepest in the country, but there are comparatively fewer people looking for work.

This location phenomenon could result in continuing crisis for businesses battling to find staff as the economy grows.

Pay increases on the rise but not enough to secure candidates

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.2% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6% among employees for the three months June to August 2021.

Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics at the ONS commented: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus. The latest earnings continue to show growth on the year, even after taking inflation into account. However, the figures are still being affected by special factors that make it hard to read underlying trends.”

Matthew Percival, Programme Director for Skills and Inclusion at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Companies have found hiring difficult this autumn and the official data is beginning to tell the same story, with the number of people on payroll exceeding pre-COVID highs and record vacancies.

Responding to the ONS earnings and employment figures, Matt Weston, UK Managing Director of global recruitment firm Robert Half, said:

“We’re currently seeing demand above and beyond pre-pandemic levels, and despite the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ creating a tsunami of turnover, we are still experiencing a saturated market where the demand for skilled talent outstrips the supply. The competition is evident with the increase in median monthly pay showing the strength of candidates’ influence when agreeing terms with a new employer.”

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42% of companies allow buying and selling holidays
According to Gallagher’s 2021 Benefits Strategy Benchmarking Survey report, companies are changing benefit policies to align with post-pandemic priorities in a bid to attract and retain talent in a very competitive market.

More than 230 UK organisations responded to the survey, and almost half (46%) plan to change their current benefits offerings with 71% planning to enhance them.

 

“The pandemic has prompted a mass shift in working habits and companies are beginning to reflect this accordingly when it comes to their benefits strategy,” said Nick Burns, CEO of Gallagher’s Employee Benefits Consulting Division in the U.K. “As the survey reveals, areas such as health and wellbeing and ensuring a family-friendly approach to benefits are increasingly viewed as central to the employee experience.”

Key trends found in the report include:

Employee health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing continue to be a major focus as a resilient workforce will be more agile when adapting to change. That said, one-third of organisations added new benefits in this space.

  • Three quarters of organisations (76%) reported offering an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
  • There has been an increase in fitness-related benefits such as a discounted gym memberships (69%) in order to accommodate the different ways people have been exercising during the pandemic.
  • Annual leave has become more important to support employees’ mental wellbeing.
  • Holiday or annual leave is a statutory benefit in the UK (minimum of 20 days plus eight bank holidays for a full-time employee) and just over half of organisations (51%) have applied the same holiday entitlement to all employees.
  • The ability to buy or sell holidays (36%) is up slightly compared to last year.
  • Of those who offer flexibility, around 42% allow both buying and selling of holidays.
  • It is most common by far to allow five days to be bought or sold where trading is offered, although a few organisations allow 10 days. The highest cited response was 15 days.
  • In addition, organisations are offering different kinds of leave packages outside of family leave, including: bereavement/compassionate leave (93%), study leave (58%), volunteering leave (36%), carers’ leave (22%) day off on birthday (10%).

Equalisation and fairness of benefits

Organisations are endeavouring to provide more family-friendly benefits.

  • Accordingly, maternity and paternity pay has improved – with 88% increasing enhance pay compared to 62% two years ago.
  • Forty-one per cent of respondents offer shared paternal leave on the same basis as maternity, with paid paternity leave increasingly becoming the norm.
  • The extended duration of leave has also risen among 32% of respondent organisations, compared to just 17 per cent two years ago.
  • The adoption policy matches the maternity policy for the majority of organisations (88%).
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Older workers suffer a chronic underinvestment  

In a bid to stave off an unemployment crisis, the Government has announced a new £500m support scheme to help workers who came off furlough at the end of September.  

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to announce new measures that will include prioritising those coming off furlough for one-to-one support from jobcentres and extending the £3,000 incentive for employers to take on apprentices until the end of January 2022.  

Sunak is expected to continue with his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to support people through the crisis. According to news reports, Sunak will announce more plans for investment in the nation’s infrastructure and skills network, including tech. 

Following the announcement that Sunak will be “throwing the kitchen sink” at helping unemployed Britons, industry experts have weighed in on Sunak’s plans and there have been mixed comments. APSCo for example, doesn’t feel that this will solve the skills crisis.  

Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo commented: “While the additional funds are a welcome move, our concern is that these initiatives need to have the appropriate financial support, backing and processes that are required to make them wholly successful. The Kickstart Scheme, for example, received a wealth of interest initially, but the success has been limited, largely due to the over-lengthy processes that are in place. As a case in point, of the roles APSCo submitted on behalf of its members to the scheme, just 22% were filled, with a number of staffing companies still waiting on any referrals at all.  

“We are also concerned that many of the initiatives – including the investment in skills and the changes to visa requirements – remain focused on the creative industries. There needs to be a clear plan that supports core skills development across all professions in the UK.” 

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group weighed in, too: “Last week, the furlough system came to an end, leaving the jobs of a million people across the UK hanging in the balance. Half of those were workers aged 50 and over. Whilst unemployed young people saw interventions and safety nets put in place during the pandemic, unfortunately the same could not be said for older workers. Our recent Skills Index research highlights that older workers also suffer from a chronic underinvestment in training, meaning many will struggle to re-enter the workplace despite their wealth of knowledge, skills and experience.  

“Today, we have seen Rishi Sunak announce an extension to the Kickstart scheme as well as the introduction of an AI scholarship plan. Whilst these announcements are a positive step for the economy, they are once again tailored towards supporting young people. It is disappointing that the anticipated £500m support package for displaced workers, including support for older workers, was not mentioned in the Chancellor’s speech.  

“We still need to see more action from both Government and employers to recognise the value and potential of older workers. At a time where critical skills gaps plague the UK economy, it’s never been more important to support the full workforce, from those just starting out on their career through to those aged 50 and over.”

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38% of employees are looking to change roles  

Almost all HR leaders are concerned employee turnover will skyrocket in the coming months, according to a Gartner survey of 572 HR leaders.  

Another Gartner survey of 1,609 candidates between May and June 2021 found that nearly half of today’s applicants are considering at least two job offers simultaneously. 

Talk of “The Great Resignation” is still dominating the news, despite no concrete evidence of its existence. According to data by Personio, close to two-fifths (38%) of employees are looking to change roles within the next six to twelve months.  

To gain competitive advantage in today’s war on talent, employers need to focus on retention strategies such as the following:   

  • Ensure career progression plans: empower your staff to be the CEO of their careers and ‘grow your own’ instead of hiring externally.  
  • Implement mentorship programmes. These foster a sense of belonging in the workplace.  
  • Emerging talent is very focused on diversity and inclusivity. Ensure your business is inclusive.  
  • Promote a work/life balance. Wellbeing is a key focus for employees now more than ever.  
  • Widen your business’s talent pool. Hire outside of the normal parametres of the preferred skillset. It’s not always about skills, it’s about potential, too.  
  • Offer flexible working that aligns to employee and work needs: flexibility is no longer a perk, it’s a prerequisite for employment since coming out of the pandemic. If you’re not prepared to offer your workforce flexibility, they will find an employer who does.  

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75% of companies have suffered confidence-damaging cyber-attacks

A new report by FTI Consulting indicates that more companies are coming under scrutiny for their business practises and behaviour.

The top three areas of investigation worries are: business conduct and the treatment of customers, sustainability and ESG practices, and the relationship with public bodies and government contracts. According to the report, a quarter of UK respondents identified each of these areas as major concerns. The services sector and financial sector were the most likely to report experiencing regulatory or political scrutiny over the past 12 months (23% each).

Potential emerging crises

 According to The Resilience Barometer the nature, severity and potential trajectory of these threats are forcing companies to embed resilience on more fronts:

Growing cybersecurity threats: 75% of companies surveyed suffered a cyber-attack in the past 12 months, with a rise in phishing attacks among the most prevalent type with 25% experiencing a loss of customer/patient data, and a further 23% reporting a loss of third-party information.

Class actions and mass consumer claims: 13% of respondents experienced these in the past 12 months, and 12% expect this to continue in the next 12 months.

The “Great Resignation”: Over the last 12 months, 28% of companies surveyed have experienced a shortage of talent and skills, and 72% have reported increased mental health issues in their workforce since the start of the pandemic.

Edward Westerman, Global Investigations Initiative Leader at FTI Consulting commented: “The ever-changing landscape will put the onus on companies to take a proactive stance regarding investigations. Leveraging new technologies and data and analytics can help companies efficiently manage an ongoing investigation and help mitigate the risk of future crises.”

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Luton has best business survival rate

  • Fasthosts reveal the top cities in the UK for start-up businesses by looking into a large variety of regional metrics from business survival rates to the cost of office space.
  • Luton is the UK’s top city to start a business right now, study finds.

The arrival of the pandemic saw a 12.3% increase in new businesses – the highest increase on record.

By analysing average download speeds, business birth and death rates, five-year survival rates, office renting costs, and average working productivity across the nation, Fasthosts’ conducted a survey that revealed the top 15 cities for business opportunities.

Based on the benchmarks, Luton was crowned as the best all-round UK location to start a new business with an overall index score of 3.375. The city proved to have one the best rates of production, office prices, and business survival rates out of any other UK city.

In second place was Reading which boasted a super high productivity rate – even higher than Luton – but falls short at office costs and internet speeds. The Bedfordshire town ranks marginally higher than fellow southern start-up hotspot Reading (3.312).

In the battle of the capitals, Edinburgh outperformed Central London by the slimmest of margins, to rank as the survey’s fourth best city for overall enterprise opportunities, while the English metropolis took fifth.

The top 15 UK cities to launch a business can be seen below:

Ranking City Average download speed (Mbit/s) Business Death rate Business Birth rate 5 Year Survival Rate Cost of Office Space per sq. ft. (£) Productivity level
1 Luton 63 1040 1455 410 22 102.97
2 Reading 54 930 1145 435 38 126.9
3 Nottingham 69 1410 1510 20 14.88 86
4 Edinburgh 63 2540 2885 1150 35 104.8
5 Central London 51 5750 5190 32895 112 132.3
6 Liverpool 62 2445 3110 805 23 91.7
7 Portsmouth 55 845 1275 320 16.9 94.3
8 Coventry 58 1410 1620 605 18.5 91.6
9 Wolverhampton 61 1110 1245 380 16 84
10 Bristol 60 2370 2895 1140 35 97.6
11 Birmingham 58 5970 7870 2080 34 91.5
12 Newcastle upon Tyne 56 1105 1295 455 24 90.9
13 Stoke-on-Trent 53 810 965 385 16 85.5
14 Northampton 44 1275 2000 520 13.6 93.6
15 Bradford 49 1875 2305 945 14.6 86.2

Michelle Stark, Sales and Marketing Director at Fasthosts commented: “Even in a vastly increasing digital world, choosing the right city to launch a business is an important decision. And it’s great to see such a variety of cities across the country among the top 15 from Portsmouth to Edinburgh and Bradford to choose from. It’s important to be strategic when deciding in your business location and we urge all start-ups to check out our rankings before choosing their desired location for business.”

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68% of white men ‘don’t feel they need more D&I education’

A study by Dynata has suggested that one in three employees fear that an unintended consequence of increased awareness around D&I would be losing their role.

The research polled over 1,300 workers from the UK and nearly 10,000 from countries such as France, Germany and the USA. It explored the attitudes and opinions of employees, managers and people leaders surrounding EDI programmes in organisations.

The study stated that, while one in three employees rated accountability and progress reporting as the most important element of a successful D&I strategy, the same amount also feared that the consequences of such reporting could endanger their chances of working for D&I-centric organisations.

A total of 68% of white men who responded to the survey believe that they don’t need any further education about the importance of D&I, yet a massive 46% believe that a greater emphasis of D&I may lead to their losing their own job.

According to the study, 66% of respondents noted that creating a safe environment and paying employees fairly for their work were the most desired and important outcomes of any D&I initiative.

The benefits of doing so, included greater feelings of confidence, productivity and belonging among workers.

It appears that there is a ‘significant’ gap between senior leaders and workers in measuring the success of D&I within organisations.

  • 60% of bosses believe that they are creating a ‘culture of belonging’
  • 41% of workers perceive their managers are, in fact, creating a culture of belonging

“A diverse workforce which brings together different perspectives, ideas and ways of thinking is essential for innovation in business, just as it is in wider society,” commented Samuel Kasumu, former advisor to the Prime Minister and Managing Director at Inclusive Boards.

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Greene King named biggest winner of the year!

  • 160 guests attend live Gala Dinner at the IET London
  • 11 companies crowned winners with 6 highly commended
  • Greene King wins hat trick of awards, triumphing overall as the TA Team of the Year

 Winners of the 2021 TIARA Talent Acquisition Awards were revealed at a Gala Dinner for 160 guests at the IET in London on the 22nd of September. The event was attended by Talent Acquisition, HR and business leaders from some of the UK’s leading employers.

“The TIARA Talent Acquisition Awards are the latest addition to TALiNT Partners’ highly respected TIARA awards programme,” commented Ken Brotherston, co-host of the Awards and Managing Director at TALiNT Partners.

“After 18 months of turmoil, it was amazing to see the examples of innovation, resilience, business partnership and agility delivered by our finalists this year, and we were delighted to be able to recognize that work through the TIARA Talent Acquisition Awards,” added Debra Sparshott, co-host of the Awards and Programme Director at TALiNT Partners. 

The TIARAs are recognised for the rigour of the process and the quality of the judging panel and are seen as a genuine and meaningful accolade for winners. An impressive and influential panel of judges from companies including LinkedIn, Nestle, Jaguar Land Rover, Facebook, MSCI Inc as well as wider business leaders such as Lord Chris Holmes, deputy Chair of Channel 4, and the broadcaster and journalist Trevor Phillips came together to discuss each entry and decide the winners.

“Our judges’ deliberations were balanced, lively, occasionally controversial but always insightful and thoughtful. Their range of experience brought an amazing diversity of different perspectives,” commented Ken Brotherston.

Greene King was the biggest winner this year, winning the Lorien Creativity in Talent Acquisition Award, Early Career Pioneer Award, and the overall winner’s winner trophy – the TA Team of the Year.

“In deciding this year’s TA Team of the Year Winner, we wanted to see a team who had moved the needle, raised standards and taken a risk. After the last 18 months, we cannot ignore the human element, and Greene King approached their work in a genuine and authentic way and truly is a beacon for the industry,” said Chris Holmes, Judge and Deputy Chair, Channel 4. He also spoke powerfully about the importance of ‘looking after the talent who look after the talent’, recognising the many challenges employers have faced during the pandemic and the critical role TA teams have played across so many industries.

The TIARA Talent Acquisition Awards 2021 campaign was supported by partners eArcu, Horsefly Analytics, Lorien, Retinue Talent Solutions and Sova Assessment.

The full list of TIARA Talent Acquisition winners and highly commended finalists is as follows:

The Lorien Creativity in TA Award 

  • Winner: Greene King
  • Highly Commended: Barchester Healthcare

The Best Recruitment Supplier Partnership 

  • Winner: Kraft Heinz

The eArcu Candidate Experience Award

  • Winner: McDonald’s
  • Highly Commended: Checkout.com

The Best Use of Tech

  • Winner: HSBC (Partner: SMRS)

The Retinue Talent Solutions TA Operational Achievement Award

  • Winner: Serco
  • Highly Commended: Essex County Council
  • Highly Commended: North Yorkshire County Council

The Early Careers Pioneer Award

  • Winner: Greene King
  • Highly Commended: Essex County Council

The Horsefly Analytics Best Business Partnership

  • Winner: North Yorkshire County Council

The Sova Moving the Dial in Diversity & Inclusion Award

  • Winner: BBC

The Excellence in Onboarding

  • Winner: Essex County Council
  • Highly Commended: Slalom

The Attraction Campaign of the Year

  • Winner: L’Oréal

The TA Team of the Year

  • Winner: Greene King
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Employers are prioritising plans to improve productivity

Since the start of the pandemic, rising financial stress due to an uncertain economy has created a downward spiral on employee wellbeing that has impacted employee performance. A study by borofree revealed that an average of 3.05 working days were taken off by workers in Great Britain last year due to the financial stress felt by employees.

The study examined the plans that companies across the UK now aim to implement in order to improve employee productivity, financial wellbeing and increase morale in the workplace as business recovery begins to take shape.

The research, which was conducted online by YouGov, highlights that HR decision makers are feeling optimistic about building stronger employee productivity as the economy settles into a ‘new normal’ with over half (57%) believing that employee productivity is set to  increase over the next 12 months.

Action taken from businesses to increase employee wellbeing over the next year will be critical for them to regain strong post-pandemic productivity growth and recover from a challenging 18 months. In fact, 83% of HR decision makers surveyed revealed that their business will be prioritising plans to improve employee productivity over the next year. Improving pay and working conditions for employees is high on the agenda for companies looking to regain lost morale due to the pandemic, with almost a third (31%) stating that this will be a business priority for them this year.

Across Britain the study highlights that employers are searching for new ways to increase productivity. The research shows that wellbeing is now a vital part of ensuring that teams remain productive, with over one in five (23%) companies looking to introduce new or improved health and wellness benefits for employees to improve morale and productivity over the next two years.

Despite financial worries among the UK workforce being a cause of emotional stress, the study shows that offering financial wellbeing initiatives as part of a businesses’ productivity recovery plan is still being overlooked. Whilst financial stress is a contributing factor to absenteeism in the workplace, only 12% of HR decision makers are looking to introduce personal finance coaching and training to employees to improve morale and productivity amongst teams within the next two years.

Minck Hermans, CEO and Co-founder at borofree, comments: “Whilst it’s great to see that businesses are prioritising incentives to build stronger employee productivity following a challenging 18 months, it’s critical that they do not overlook initiatives to promote better financial wellbeing amongst teams.

Our findings show that financial stress can lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace and the effect of this will hit a company’s bottom line. For employees that seek a certain degree of financial security from their employer such as being able to absorb an unforeseen financial shock, only one in ten (10%) businesses surveyed have stated that they are looking to introduce earnings on demand and paid weekly options for employers within the next two years and just over one in ten (14%) confirmed that they’ll be introducing salary advance facilities (e.g., a loan a company can give an employee from their future salary).”

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