Category: Recruitment Agencies

Does your company suffer from toxic positivity?

A recent study by Leadership IQ, an employee engagement and leadership training company, found that an organization that pretends everything is fine or sends companywide memos avoiding topics that can’t be positively spun might be suffering from “toxic positivity”.

Toxic positivity in organizations is often seen when leaders avoid sharing or discussing the tough challenges they’re facing. The study showed that only 15% of employees believe that their organization always openly shares the challenges facing it. By contrast, 42% said their company never or rarely shares its challenges.

There’s a long-standing belief among many leaders that talking about tough issues scares people and worsens the situation where the reality is the opposite. The study found that if an employee believes their company openly shares the challenges facing it, they’re about 10 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.

It’s not just sharing organizational challenges where toxic positivity appears, however.

In a complementary study, The State of Leadership Development, more than 21,000 employees were asked to what extent their leader responded well to hearing about problems. Disturbingly, a mere 26% of employees said that their leader always responds constructively when employees share their work problems.

Developing resilience

The key to developing resilience, optimism, self-efficacy, and a host of other emotional-wellness skills is to acknowledge reality, not to deny, avoid, or dismiss it. Wallowing in misery will, of course, increase negative feelings. But denying misery or tough challenges is even worse.

To avoid toxic positivity, leaders need to accept that their employees are not clueless and can’t handle reality. In fact, ignoring or dismissing reality is one of the fastest ways to undermine employees’ trust in leadership. Instead, leaders should acknowledge reality and then focus their efforts on developing and explaining plans to make that reality better.

“Toxic positivity is an excessive and distorted form of positive thinking. It’s putting a positive spin on all experiences, no matter how dire or tragic,” explains clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Burgio-Murphy. “For example, you could be experiencing toxic positivity when a friend or boss minimizes or refuses to acknowledge your negative feelings. Or perhaps they go further and try to spin your dire situation in a positive way, like ‘this is a blessing in disguise’ or ‘all things happen for a reason.”

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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

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Net employment outlook at third strongest in Europe

According to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, employers across Ireland anticipate the highest level of hiring in 17 years, for the fourth quarter according to The Net Employment Outlook for Ireland stands at +34%, the third strongest in Europe. The powerhouse area behind this positivity is the manufacturing sector – up 53 percentage points from the previous year to +39% for Q4 2021.

Transport and logistics is also poised for headcount growth, with employment outlook rising to 39% for the coming quarter. The retail sector also intends to hire significantly, bouncing back with the promise of continued government employment supports for the industry remaining in place until March 2022.

Elsewhere, the finance and business service sector remains strong, up ten percentage points on last quarter to +20%. However, the construction industry is being hit by limitations to supplies and hiring plans and has contracted 19 percentage points from last quarters record high, yet the employers in the sector remain optimistic with a hiring Outlook of +20%.

  • Nationwide, employers in all industry sectors report positive hiring plans for Q4.
  • From a regional perspective, employers in Dublin are reporting positive hiring intent with an outlook of +39%, with Munster being the most positive province for the next quarter at +44%.
  • Larger-sized organisations (250+ employees) are reporting the strongest hiring confidence for Q4 with an employment outlook of +39%.
  • Currently 69% of employers are struggling to fill roles. This leaves us with a significant talent gap where employers need to be investing in recruitment drives, upskilling and retraining programmes as long-term solutions to filling roles.

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Recruiters report difficulty in sourcing candidates

A survey conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) reported that nine in ten recruiters (88%) say that labour shortages are one of their biggest concerns for the remainder of 2021, while skills shortages are a major concern for two in three (65%).

With shortages hitting every sector of the economy and many staffing companies reporting the tightest labour market they’ve ever experienced, the REC is calling on business and the government to take urgent action to solve the problem.

Recruiters have a significantly higher number of roles to fill than before the pandemic, with three in five (58%) having at least 30% more vacancies than pre-pandemic. Of the 191 recruiters surveyed, almost all (97%) said that it was taking longer than usual to fill those vacancies, compounding the problem. Half (50%) reported that it now takes more than a month to find suitable candidates.

Recruiters reported several factors were affecting their ability to source candidates. The top reason was skills shortages (cited by 65% of respondents), followed by the new immigration rules (57%) and their clients not being able to offer competitive salaries (53%).

In response, the REC has set out a number of asks for both government and business to help solve this crisis:

  • Set up a cross-government forum including the Business, Education and Work and Pensions departments, as well as business organisations. This would restore the importance of workforce planning in the economic debate between business, government and other stakeholders, not only focusing on skills.
  • Broaden the apprenticeship levy and increase funding for training at lower skill levels. This would improve progression and transition opportunities for lower-skilled and temporary workers who need them most, and encourage business to do more here in the UK, not less.
  • Allow flexibility in the point-based immigration system and a visa route for lower-skilled workers, which would allow firms in the worst-affected sectors like logistics to access staff at times of pressing need.
  • Increased focus from businesses on workforce planning, staff engagement, attraction and retention policies. Firms need to raise workforce planning up to the senior leadership level, and work with key professional partners like recruiters to boost performance, productivity and staff wellbeing.

This also follows recent research from British Future, which found increasingly positive public attitudes towards immigration. Two thirds of the public (65%) agree that employers should be allowed to recruit from overseas for roles in shortage – showing that a more flexible immigration system would be popular as well as helping businesses to fill crucial vacancies.

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said:

“Worker shortages are a huge problem for employers and their recruitment partners, across all industries and regions. Vacancy numbers are far higher than pre-pandemic, and it is taking much longer to fill them. This is putting the recovery at risk by putting capacity constraints on the economy, as last week’s GDP figures showed. In our survey, recruiters also highlighted a wide range of factors that have combined to cause these shortages – this is a complex problem with no one easy fix.

“As such, we will only solve these shortages through a collaborative approach. We’re glad that multiple government departments are coming together in a joint forum to tackle the issue, but to be effective it must also include business and industry experts. Government must allow more flexibility in the immigration system so firms can hire essential workers like drivers from abroad, and also improve training opportunities for lower-paid and temporary workers. Meanwhile companies need to focus on how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions and facilities, not just pay.”

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Job vacancies rise to over one million to set new record

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with August payrolls showing a monthly increase of 241,000 to 29.1 million. The number of job vacancies in the three months to August has also risen above one million for the first time since records began in 2001.

Speaking to the BBC, ONS deputy statistician Jonathan Athow, warned that well over a million are still on furlough and the recovery is not even, with London still down, young workers disproportionately affected, and sectors like hospitality slower to recover. The biggest rise in job vacancies was in the food and accommodation sectors, up by 57,600 in August.

While the overall unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.6% in the three months to July, this is against the backdrop of acute talent shortages. Various trade bodies, including the British Chambers of Commerce, blamed Brexit and Covid for declines in labour supply and warned that ‘the end of furlough is unlikely to be a silver bullet to the ongoing shortages’.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said: “The Government has convened a cross-department forum to tackle these shortages, but this will only be effective if industry experts are involved as well. Government must work with business to improve training opportunities for workers to transition into the most crucial sectors and allow some flexibility in the immigration system at this time of need. And while businesses are raising salaries in many sectors, they must think more broadly about how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions, facilities, and staff engagement, working with recruiters, who are the professional experts in all of this.”

Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo, added: “The fact that pay has returned to pre-pandemic levels at last is a positive sign for the economy, however, we are seeing employers simply needing to increase remuneration as staff shortages continue to impact hiring activity. The increasing dearth of talent that businesses across the country are reporting is a real concern to the recruitment sector.”

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Primis, a new technology recruitment company that will operate out of the UK and the US will focus on improving the D&I landscape in the technology sector. The announcement was made by APSCo member and Managing Director of Premier Recruitment, Ben Broughton. Broughton who assisted in growing the firm to revenues of £30m, said that Primis will also offer D&I and unconscious bias training to the hiring managers of Primis clients and their own employees.

The people-centric approach the business appears to be focusing on comes at a time where D&I is deemed an important factor in talent retention as a sense of belonging is increasingly more important to employees when looking for a company to work for.

Primis’s training solutions is delivered by a team that includes: Faisel Choudhry, a strategic management professional with experience working at The Royal Household and The Bank of England; Chikere Igbokwe, an Executive Recruiter and D&I Leader and Jina Etienne, who became the first national leader for D&I at Grant Thornton, in the USA.

Broughten commented: “We want to educate and expand the views of tech communitites across the UK and US when it comes to hiring diverse teams. We are a growth business and will achieve this through a mixture of senior hires as well as organic growth through a structured training academy.”

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NASDAQ listed Staffing 360 Solutions, Inc., which is leading an international buy-integrate-build strategy through the acquisition of domestic and global staffing companies in the US and UK, has announced that Longbridge Recruitment 360 and The JM Group have joined to form The JM Longbridge Group.

The JM Group and Longbridge Recruitment 360 have been delivering recruitment solutions for a combined 57 years and form part of Staffing 360 Solutions Inc. In that time, the two firms have continued to grow by extending client partnerships across the full range of its offerings in the Technology, Finance, Business Transformation, Digital, Legal and Data markets.

Simon Girven, MD of JM Group, said: “Bringing the two brands together enhances our client offering, provides career opportunities for our team members, and supports the evolution of our business. With identical working practices, plus a shared commitment to client and candidate service, we will work methodically and diligently to continue to secure the talent our clients need and deliver increased value to the candidates who entrust us with their careers. It’s a great time to join The JM Longbridge Group”.

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Despite new IR35 regulations and guidance in April, and the Department of Work and Pensions and Home Office hit with fines of £87m and £29m, respectively. HM Courts and Tribunal Service has fallen victim of CEST misuse with a total fine of £12m.

Commenting on the latest Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) casualty, Dave Chaplin, CEO of IR35 Shield said: “HMRC’s CEST tool is failing fast and now we are hearing of yet one more government department, HM Courts and Tribunal Service, hit with a high tax bill to the tune of £12m because it has relied on CEST to assess its contracting workforce. One of CEST’s major flaws has been its over-reliance on substitution, which any defence expert knows is folly. Over the last few years, many industry experts have pointed out CEST’s failings to HMRC but those messages were ignored and now we are witnessing the fallout and financial damage.

“My advice to anyone who has used CEST is to revisit your determinations and if they rely on a valid right to substitute then seek advice on the correct interpretation of the law. Also, recheck the status with the assumption that the substitution clause is not valid, to make sure you have not also been badly exposed due to the flaw.

“Moreover, it is crucial that once you hire a worker on an “outside IR35” basis that you continue to monitor the status throughout the engagement. Regular checking and gathering contemporaneous evidence are crucial in forming a pre-emptive defence.  Poor assessment decisions left alone, without any evidence to back them up, can prove costly as we are seeing with these recent governmental departments.”

The FCSA, the membership body dedicated to raising standards and promoting supply chain compliance for the temporary labour market, responded saying that it had expressed its concern to HMRC about the validity of the CEST tool. “The current fines perhaps demonstrate that the CEST tool needs re-visiting in terms of a valid SDC determination. In the light of the current outcomes, it would be silly for HMRC to simply press ahead without stopping and reviewing the tool.

“In the interim, marketplace experts, including many FCSA members, have developed alternative tools that can assist the sector in creating more accurate determination tests. So far, there is an ironic pattern emerging here in that one government department is taking money from another and so the government balance remains at zero. The real threat comes when other non-government bodies start to fall victim to huge fines because of using a government promoted test. That will not sit well with a sector that is working hard to support the government to ‘Build Back Better’.”

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With job vacancies hitting record levels in July, according to ONS, and Broadbean Technology revealing that application numbers have consistently dropped over the last three months, employers are turning to those candidates who came a close second in the hiring process in a bid to address talent shortages, according to talent outsourcing and advisory services provider AMS.


Those who have previously made the hiring shortlist are an appealing esource to employers but eraching out to them and attracting their needs needs to be handled with care.


Steve Leach, Regional Managing Director, UK & Ireland, at AMS commented: 


“Tapping into this talent pool is certainly a strategic move that we’re pleased to see organisations embrace, after all, these individuals have already engaged with the brand and have some connection to the business. However, how these individuals are engaged does require careful management. Their prior experience in the recruitment process and how their rejection was handled could impact the success of this interaction – and certainly highlights the critical importance of a positive candidate experience for future-proof businesses.


“The process of re-engaging with this talent community in order to fill resourcing gaps needs to be both personalised and streamlined. They can’t just be approached as a warm lead or even as a brand-new connection. They need a tailored approach that speaks to their prior experience with the business and convinces them why they should give the firm another chance. Technology can certainly play a key role in streamlining engagement with these individuals and, if implemented correctly, will provide a positive experience for these silver medallists, but the key to successfully enticing this group back to a brand lies in tailored engagement strategy designed solely for their needs and prior interaction.”


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The new partnership has solidified the place of video conferencing in the talent recruitment industry.

Global recruiter Hays has partnered with specialist tech provider Odro to deliver video interview and engagement technology to over 1,800 recruitment professionals across the UK and Ireland (UK&I).

The contract is a significant win for Odro, which has over 700 clients worldwide and more than 10,000 platform users. It comes just two months after the company announced an impressive £5.2m cash injection from UK investor, BGF.

Hays’ confidence in Odro is not only an endorsement for the business but the increasing importance of video software in the industry. The technology offers asynchronous and two-way interviewing, digital shortlisting, video sales messaging and content production.

Commenting on the partnership, CEO of Odro, Ryan McCabe said: “We’ve been really encouraged at signs that the industry is bouncing back and it’s great that video has firmly cemented its place as a must-have in the modern-day recruiter’s toolkit.”

Hays Group employs 10,000 staff in 33 countries and in the year to June 2020 placed 66,000 candidates into permanent jobs plus 235,000 people into temporary roles.

Roddy Adair, Director at Hays, said that it is constantly looking for ways to improve and upgrade their tech offering to support their staff in their daily operations. “We were really impressed with the implementation process and the approach by the Odro team from the outset,” he said. “Feedback from the pilot was incredibly positive, with great results and our existing clients have reacted really well to our new way of working, which has significant efficiency benefits for their businesses too.”

Odro has been shortlisted in four categories for the 2021 TIARA Talent Tech Star Awards, including the Optima Talent Tech Leader of the Year.

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