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The increasing trend towards remote working caused by the pandemic is leading firms to look further afield for contract workers.

According to a recent analysis by 6CATS International, in Q1 there was an increase in demand for contractors outside Europe, with opportunities booming in India and South Africa in particular.

Stefanie Cook, Sales Director at 6CATS International, said: “Destinations such as France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have long been hotspots of activity, but we’re increasingly seeing contractors, recruiters and end clients looking beyond Europe, with South Africa and India currently leading a significant proportion of the demand for contractor management solutions.

“Much of this shift has arguably been driven by the uptick in remote working options for contract professionals – meaning that recruiters and hirers are less limited by borders when sourcing temporary experts.

“Instead, we are increasingly seeing staffing businesses able to take a more strategic standpoint and focus on where the talent can be found, without concerns around in-country right to work regulations, immigration checks and visa requirements.”

On a sector basis, demand for contractors was highest in the pharmaceutical area, with oil and gas, engineering and IT also seeing a rise in activity in the first quarter of 2021.

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COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, and workplaces are reopening, but recent research reveals that three-quarters of UK workers fear going back into the workplace because it poses a risk to their health and safety. David McCormack, CEO of employee benefits and outsourced payroll provider HIVE360, says employers should take a simple seven-step approach that will support effective management of the workforce’s return to work.

Seventy three percent of workers admit they fear a return to the workplace. Responsible employers need to take action to support workers and ease their worries, to ensure they feel secure and comfortable whenever in the workplace, and know they have their employer’s support and commitment to maintain a safe environment.

The foundation to this is our seven-step return-to-work action framework:

  1. Communicate: Ensure workers know it’s ok to feel anxious about the return to the workplace. Encourage them to talk about their feelings so you can reassure them and take any additional action to ease any worries.
  2. Stay in touch: Make a point of checking in with staff regularly and ask how they are coping.
  3. Be flexible: For those feeling uncomfortable about being in the office, give them the option to continue working from home some days each week. For those anxious about a busy commute to work, be open to an early or late start and finish time for the working day.
  4. Be safe: People are counting on their employers to help them get back to work safely, and by putting employee health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of the return-to-work planwill help reduce any stress or anxiety:
  • Be COVID-19 aware, safe and secure. Employers have statutory duties to provide a safe place of work as well as general legal duties of care towards anyone accessing or using the workplace
  • Carry out a risk assessment of the entire workplace and implement measures to minimise these risks
  • Create a clear policy of behaviour in the workplace and share it with all employees. Policies should include the rules on wearing facemasks, social distancing, hand washing and sanitising, with the relevant equipment available to all. Include clear instructions on what people should do if they or someone they live with feels unwell or tests positive for COVID-19.
  1. Be caring: With concerns about the effects of COVID-19 on society and the economy, mental health is a growing problem, but people continue to feel uncomfortable speaking about it. This is unlikely to change, so make time to show you are an employer that recognises and understands by introducing and communicating the tools, support and measures available to them to help address any fears. Give them access to specialist healthcare resources, information and health and wellbeing support.
  2. Encourage work/life balance: Poor work/life balance reduces productivity and can lead to stress and mental health problems, so build-in positive steps to help the workforce achieve it by encouraging sensible working hours, full lunch breaks, and getting outside for fresh air and exercise at least once a day.
  3. Tailor solutions: Show that you understand that everyone’s personal situation is different and that you will do your best to accommodate it. Remind people of their worth as an employee, and the positive attributes they bring to the team.

Added benefits

Employee health and wellbeing support and benefits are a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’. Onboarding and career progression, reward and recognition policies, training and development, employee benefits, work/life balance initiatives, financial, mental health and wellbeing support, are all essential components of an effective employee engagement strategy. Together, they improve and maintain a positive working environment.

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

HIVE360 goes further. Our unique, customisable employee pay, benefits and engagement app Engage is provided as a standard element of our outsourced payroll solution. It gives workers access to an extensive range of health and wellbeing benefits and employee support services, including:

  • 24/7, confidential access to mental health support, counsellors and GPs
  • Thousands of high street and online discounts
  • Huge mobile phone savings
  • Online training resourcesand access to the HIVE360Skills Academy
  • A secure digital payslips portal
  • A real-time workplace pension dashboard to support employees’ financial wellbeing.
  • An incident reporting system to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace, which allows workers to – anonymously – raise serious issues or concerns with their employer directly through the app.

HIVE360 is a GLAA (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority) license holder and is championing a new model of employment administration, redefining employment and pension administration processing. Visit: www.hive360.com

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With vacancy numbers hitting all-time highs in the UK since before the pandemic hit, online talent sourcing specialist, Talent.com, has warned employers that a lack of diversity in recruitment adverts themselves could hinder hiring strategies.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that there are more job vacancies now than before the pandemic as employers look to bolster resources as restrictions ease and business demand finally increases after more than a year of uncertainty. However, Talent.com has warned that an audit of hiring process – including job adverts and descriptions – is needed to ensure they appeal to modern-day diverse audiences.

Values and “must-haves” for job seekers have changed dramatically in the last few years with the workforce placing large emphasis on things that matter as opposed to higher pay. There is far more focus on sustainability and diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the Black Lives Matters movement has served to accelerate the much-needed evolution of hiring practices and other business policies.

Without a more diverse approach to hiring practices, businesses could see limited hiring success in the second half of 2021.

Noura Dadzie, Vice President of Sales UK and International Markets at Talent.com said: “With unemployment levels dropping as vacancy numbers rise, the war for talent is accelerating exponentially. The challenge for hiring managers now is not just to get in front of the right people before the competition, but perhaps more importantly, have the right content to push to these audiences. Job seekers are placing greater emphasis on diversity initiatives and employment culture in a post-pandemic world, but as businesses attempt to replace lost resources, too many are falling into the trap of pushing out pre-Covid ads and job descriptions that are arguably out-dated and irrelevant.

“Job seekers are more likely to apply for a position if they can easily identify with the job description and advert. If these do not reflect the diversity of the new talent landscape, employers will be on the back foot – a less-than-ideal scenario in a growing economy.”

Should you have interesting news stories to share, please send them to the Editor Debbie.walton@talintpartners.com

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The combination of the large-scale downsizing of recruitment teams last year and the huge hiring surge this year has led to a significant increase in the number of companies using project RPO.

For a report commissioned by talent outsourcing and advisory firm AMS, Aptitude Research surveyed 342 TA and HR leaders at director level and above to understand the key drivers of project RPO.

Some 42% of survey respondents said needing help to face a hiring surge was the biggest reason for using project RPO. A similar percentage (40%) reported that their recruiting teams had been downsized in 2020.

“The challenge for many employers globally is that hiring hasn’t just increased slightly, many TA teams are dealing with significant spikes in hiring, while doing so with fewer internal resources in a highly competitive talent environment,” said Maxine Pillinger, Regional Managing Director for EMEA at AMS.

“We’ve been working with our RPO clients globally on a project basis for years, but now we’re seeing an increased level of demand for a partner to help them meet their short-term demands while they still support the ‘business as usual.”

Multiple secondary drivers

The second largest driver of firms’ decisions to opt for project RPO was reducing the time taken to fill vacancies, with 75% responding that with project RPO they were able to reduce their time to fill to less than 30 days.

Expanding into new markets (31%), supporting high growth (27%) and having fewer recruiters and resources (23%) were the other main drivers.

The report outlined that while traditional RPO partnerships often lasted more than two years, project RPO engagements are most commonly for less than six months, and for more than 70% of firms they are for less than six weeks.

But as is outlined in a new TALiNT Partners white paper, this lower level of commitment, combined with the current high demand, has led many RPO providers to become increasingly choosy about which projects they take on.

The report, entitled: The art of saying ‘no’ and the rise of ESG’, presents insights from an event co-hosted by TALiNT Partners and Cornerstone-On-Demand, with views from leaders at Gattaca, IBM, Lorien, Reed Talent Solutions, PeopleScout, KellyOCG, Hudson RPO, Green Park Interim & Executive Ltd, Aston Holmes, Armstrong Craven, Manpower Group Talent Solutions, LevelUp HCS, Datum RPO, Group GTI, RGF Staffing, Page Group, Resource Solutions and Comensura.

Providers get picky

A number of guests at the event said the high level of demand in today’s marketplace meant they were having to push back on some clients, either turning down work or tempering expectations about when projects could start.

Joanna Fagbadegun, Sales Director at Lorien, said: “The market is exceptionally busy, especially on the tech and professional side. We’re starting to notice more urgent requests from customers looking for recruitment team augmentation or a head to manage workload. Sometimes the ask is just for a price rather than a detailed proposal, which can indicate they may not have a clear idea of exactly what they need, just that they know they need help”.

Several providers said the sector’s own talent shortages have become a barrier to taking on all the work currently on offer. “The market challenge is always quality of workers in recruitment to support growth and enable the flexibility for new offerings. We haven’t learned from past downturns and upturns in demand,” said Adam Shay, Global Marketing Director of Resource Solutions. Nick Greenston, CEO of Retinue Talent Solutions agreed, adding that the industry has focused on growing outsourced juniors instead of attracting and retaining more experienced talent.

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New study finds that only 46% of businesses invest in anti-bias training for hiring managers 

A new report by global emerging talent and reskill provider, mthree, reveals that 54% do not use deliberately neutral job descriptions, and only 37% anonymise CVs by removing all potentially identifying information such as name, age, and educational history.

Less than a third (31%) said that they request diverse shortlists from recruiters and 9% of those surveyed do not currently have any anti-bias hiring practices in place at all. Of those that do, 88% have noticed some improvement and 49% said there has been a significant improvement.

“It’s really disappointing to see that so many businesses are still not using some of the most tried and tested anti-bias hiring practices,” said Becs Roycroft, senior director at mthree. “Lots of businesses are struggling with a lack of diversity, particularly on their tech teams, and implementing even just one of these tactics could make a real difference. In order to see the biggest difference, businesses should look to tackle bias at all stages of the recruitment process.

“If chosen carefully, recruitment consultancies and other talent partners can be an invaluable tool in the quest for diversity, as they should have their own comprehensive strategies in place to ensure inclusivity. Businesses must ensure that those responsible for recruitment are able to recognise their own unconscious biases, and given the tools to approach the process as objectively as possible, to ensure candidates do not face prejudice at the interview stage.”

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