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As employers explore new ways of attracting and retaining their talent, how important are perks, which have the most impact, and who gets the most?

A survey of 2,011 UK employees, undertaken by Censuswide in July 2021 for perk specialist Cartwright & Butler, sought to rank the most giving industries in the UK which offer the biggest perks for employees.

Its research found that marketing provides the most valuable perks, at £1,179.56 per person, on average across the year closely followed by the financial services sector (£1,091.60 per employee), and construction (£967.39).

At the other end of the scale is the third sector, which spends an average of £332.62 per person per year, with many people volunteering for charities in their spare time.

The utilities and hospitality industries both make up the bottom three of the least giving sectors – although there are several other industries that also spend less than £500 worth of perks on each employee over the year – namely retail, education, and agriculture.

Gen Z employees (those aged between 16 and 24) receive the highest value of perks on average across all industries, at around £900.08 each year. Across a range of industries, flexible working hours was by far the most popular, with 28% of brands offering this. Other popular perks of the job include employee discounts, and free food and drink, with 24% and 20% of businesses offering these, respectively.

A spokesperson for Cartwright & Butler commented: “Everything from birthday days off to free gym membership – and even something as simple as flexible working hours – are all taken into account when a candidate is deciding whether to accept a job offer. If you want to boost current workers’ morale and make them feel appreciated, then show them you care, by offering them perks that they can enjoy both in and out of work.”

Commenting on perks for marketing, particularly in recruitment where talent is in higher demand as the industry competes for attention post-pandemic, Glenn Southam, Founder of TwoEnds and The Lonely Marketers, said: “For many businesses throughout 2020, and into early 2021, day-to-day business in terms of working with customers and clients just simply stopped. This created an opportunity for marketers to come to the fore and prove their worth and impact in the workplace. In the Lonely Marketers community, made up of 150+ marketers working in recruitment, we saw countless examples of creativity to build brand awareness and add value in the most challenging of times.

“This has paid dividends as we enter a highly competitive job market with marketing being seen as integral to company growth beyond the ‘making things look nice’ stereotype. As a result, more and more marketers are now being afforded the perks, rewards and financial remuneration that were in many cases only reserved for the sales teams.”

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Unemployment has decreased since the ending of COVID-19 restrictions but may rise again as furlough scheme ends

The latest labour market overview from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for August reports that the number of payroll employees rose by 182,000 in July 2021, although this remains 201,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

Commenting on the survey, Bev White, CEO of tech recruiter Harvey Nash Group, said: “The ONS data shows the jobs market has well and truly bounced back. However, we’re also seeing persistent skills shortages holding businesses back. Two thirds of IT leaders say skills shortages are hampering them. The most acute shortages are in cyber security, Big Data/Analytics and – worryingly for the first time in the top three – DevOps, which is crucial to the fast development of systems and software.”

The REC’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker reported that there were a total of 1.65 million active job adverts in the UK in the first week of August – the second highest weekly figure since December 2020. There were around 204,000 new job adverts posted in the same week, the fourth highest weekly figure since the start of the pandemic.

The massive uptick in job adverts since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions means that employment has increased while unemployment has decreased since the end of 2020. With an approximate 953,000 job vacancies listed from May to July 2021, a record high, vacancy estimates are set to continue to rise. However, as the end of the furlough scheme looms, it remains to be seen whether the decline in unemployment, as reported by ONS, will continue.

Commenting on the ONS figures, Simon Wingate, Managing Director of Reed.co.uk said: “Our data has shown a jobs boom since the initial lockdown restrictions were lifted in April and this continued into July with over 326,000 new jobs posts added – a 179% year-on-year increase. The key challenge for employers now is finding the staff to fill the roles. Increased wages – as witnessed by the ONS data – will go a long way, but people across the country may still be hesitant about changing careers.”

Inflated salaries

The ONS survey highlighted a marked increase in the average total pay (including bonuses) of 8.8% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) increased by 7.4% during April to June 2021. However, it must be noted that the annual growth of the average employee pay is being affected by temporary factors that have inflated headline growth – for example, where there has been a drop in the number of lower-earning employee jobs therefore increasing average earnings during the pandemic.

Matt Weston, UK Managing Director of global recruitment firm Robert Half, said: “The rise in pay rolled employment sits hand in hand with a sharp drop in those using the furlough scheme, indicating continued recovery in the UK jobs market. The increase in median monthly pay also falls in line with the shift towards a talent-driven recruitment market, where candidates have greater influence when agreeing terms with a new employer.”

Harvey Nash CEO Bev White added: “We’ve been seeing a significant uptick in salaries for key IT roles and this looks set to continue. Candidates and targets with the right experience have strong bargaining power, which they’re leveraging. We’ve seen especially pronounced rises for front-end developers and anyone working with data. This isn’t just confined to London and the South East – it’s happening across the country with London-style salaries being offered much more widely, along with flexible and remote working options. Tech talent is essential to an ever-wider number of businesses, but it’s costing them ever more too.”

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Almost half of British business leaders fear losing the UK’s best talent abroad as talent shortages create challenges for employers and recruiters alike around the world.

Workplace change management specialist MovePlan partnered with global headhunter Hanson on a new Future of the Workplace survey of 1,191 business leaders and their employees. It found that 40% of business leaders are concerned that a combination of Brexit and post-pandemic talent challenges will make it harder to find and keep their talent; and 29% of those at mid- and junior-level felt pessimistic about the UK’s chances to compete for the best talent and attract global businesses post Brexit.

Talent shortages are making it more difficult for recruiters to meet client demands. The latest quarterly Global Talent Recruitment and Staffing Industry Report from JobAdder analysed data trends across its agency users in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. It found that the average time to make a contract placement was 12.3 days in Q2 of 2021, while placing permanent staff took an average of 33.7 days during the same period.

Rob Earles, Head of Agency Sales at JobAdder recently observed that, while the UK is having to address skills gaps that were waiting in the wings before the pandemic, border closures and increased demand for talent has brought the issue of lack of qualified talent to the fore.

“Against this backdrop, agency recruiters must respond by keeping close to clients so that quality job orders can be secured,” said Earles. “They should also direct resources into and look to build more efficient, empathetic candidate communications processes, focusing on developing their internal skill sets. This approach is the only way to stay nimble in the face of an evolving hiring landscape that will be with us for some time to come”.

The UK’s post-Brexit immigration policies and drastic changes to the skilled worker visa programme are making it more difficult to access talent in UK and from abroad.

“I struggle to see how the UK will cope with the worst staffing shortages since 1997 when employers will be forced to hire in person due to Home Office right to work check rules,” said Keith Rosser, Reed’s Director Group Risk and Chair of the Better Hiring Institute, who hosted an online event with over 50 major employers on 12th August to champion the extension of digital right to work checks.

The Home Office announced in June that employers could continue to verify right to work in video calls with job applicants and existing workers, and accept scanned documents or a photo of documents. This was extended until 31st August but the Home Office has since announced that penalties of up to £20,000 will be imposed for anyone avoiding manual checks from 1stSeptember.

“My concern is that our industry may not be seeing what’s coming – a candidate led market,” said Josh Rayner, CEO of estate agency recruiter Rayner Personnel. “This is further illustrated by the number of available workers plunged in June to the lowest levels since 1997, job vacancies in the three months to June rose by 241,000 to 862,000 – the biggest quarterly increase since records began in 2001 – and 1.3 million non-UK workers have left the country due to the pandemic.”

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A new survey of 2,000 workers by Robert Walters has found that 75% of 18-25 year olds see the workplace as their number one source of meaning and social connection but 42% will quit if remote working isn’t an option.

Robert Walters’ Guide to Hybrid Working: Obstacles and Solutions claims that ‘the under-researched and under-tested new hybrid working model has resulted in the UK workforce feeling overworked and exhausted’.

It found that, while 63% of companies have adopted or are in the process of implementing a hybrid-work model, 40% of employees think their employer’s hybrid working arrangements need to be improved and 55% do not think it brings balance back to their home and work life – with many claiming that hastily constructed working models have led to more intense working days due to the need to fulfil both face-to-face and virtual meetings.

The report also found that many employees are still in the dark about their employer’s plans for post-pandemic working – with 40% stating they are yet to hear about any vision, and a further 28% claiming that what they’ve heard remains vague.

Workers are very clear about their expectations, with 85% of UK professionals wanting more flexibility as standard to work from home post-pandemic, 78% stating that they would not take on a new job until this was agreed upfront with their prospective employer, and 42% saying they would quit if their employer didn’t offer remote working options long term.

However, with recent studies finding that employees working mainly from home were less likely to receive a bonus, get promoted or receive training than colleagues who spent more time in the workplace, the report urged employers to invest in culture and management.

“Our research shows that the diminishing social capital accessible through the hybrid or fully working from home model could turn the younger staffers into a ‘flight risk’,” said Chris Poole, MD of Robert Walters UK. “Additionally, talent retention is at its highest levels when employers invest time and effort in building and maintaining a workplace culture that prioritises social capital for employees.”

Tactics for boosting productivity and loyalty with hybrid working in the report include the following:

  1. Upskill managers: Remember the adage, “Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers”. So, equip your managers with formal training and techniques to maintain productivity and innovation among their hybrid teams. The Robert Walters research suggests 30% of companies in Japan are already investing in such training.
  2. Measure outputs: Organisations are typically good at measuring inputs, but many overlook the outputs. By measuring outputs, employers and employees gain a clear picture of productivity and can adjust their hybrid working arrangements accordingly. This also helps ensure high achievers are identified and rewarded – which improves talent retention.
  3. Empower introverts: Some people feel more comfortable suggesting ideas online, rather than at in-person meetings. Apps such as Slack and Stormboard can enable brainstorming among remote workers.
  4. Seize the moment: Spontaneous creativity can still happen when people aren’t in the same room. Working in a Google Doc allows colleagues to create together, simultaneously. And leaving video chat running while working remotely allows people to share ideas and thoughts as they come up.
  5. Maximise in-person working: Optimise the time people spend together by creating flexible workplaces and spaces that encourage experimentation and collaboration. Consult your people during the office design, and your premises will become an asset that helps attract and retain talent.
  6. Embrace new technology: Keep your eye on emerging tech solutions. For example, Zoom plans to launch a new Smart Gallery feature, using AI to allow three people in a physical conference room to appear on different cameras, giving equal time and opportunity for all participants to contribute their ideas.

A copy of the report is available to download at Symptoms of Dysfunction in Hybrid Working (robertwalters.co.uk)

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Over half of satisfied workers are open to a career move, according to a new survey of over 4,000 workers in the UK, US, France, and China.

A new study from global integrated communications agency Zeno Group found that 58% of satisfied employees report being open to new opportunities, with many actively searching.

The study, entitled: “A New Mindset at Work: The Evolving Workplace in 2021”, is based on a survey of over 4,000 global workers from March to April this year which analysed employees’ expectations for the return to the office, their attitudes toward workplace mobility, and the importance of factors such as purpose, diversity, advancement and work-life balance through the lens of geographic regions and generations.

It found that workers are demanding a new working environment on their terms. Beyond hybrid work and flexibility, which are seen as permanent expectations for the new workplace, the study reveals that professional growth and career mobility rank high among employees’ expectations, followed by interesting work (77%), opportunities to grow (71%) and the ability to move within the company (62%).

Mental health was high on the agenda for 48% of UK employees, with 46% worried that poor mental health, or feeling more stressed or anxious, may come as a result of working remotely and 47% concerned it will lead to poor physical health.

The study also indicated how shifting employee values are shaping their views on the workplace. Out of 37 values, “protecting the family” (75%), enjoying life (72%) and self-reliance (71%) were the top three rising values in the UK while “status” (13%), “power” (12%) and “success” (11%) were the top declining values.

Across all regions, over 70% of employees say they would perform better at their jobs if they had a clear understanding of their company’s mission and values (a 21-point increase from a 2015 Zeno Group study) yet only around 50% of respondents felt their current company had one. Among US Gen Z respondents, 76% would be willing to accept a job earning less money if it was for an employer that shared their personal values and had a strong social purpose.

In the US, UK, and China, nearly 50% of employees consider having a diverse workforce and inclusive company culture one of the most important elements of a purposeful company.

“Senior management teams need to be actively listening to what their employees want and need,” said Jo Patterson, Managing Director at 3 Monkeys Zeno. “In the PR industry there is a particular need to practice what we preach when it comes to employee engagement post-COVID. This has been a watershed moment for all of us, and we now have an opportunity to build workplaces that align with the rising values highlighted in this report like mental health and flexible working.”

“While many businesses have great benefits and growth opportunities for their employees, often communication can prove the missing link between employers and their workforce,” added Jennifer Edwards, UK Employee Engagement lead at 3 Monkeys Zeno. “In the months ahead, retaining and attracting new talent will not only depend on listening to employees, but actively communicating with them in a meaningful way.”

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Concerns about prospects in the post-pandemic job market are driving more young people to stay in education and training despite talent shortages across a range of sectors.

Research from City & Guilds found that 40% of 17-19-year-olds in the last two years of school plan to go to university and 20% now want to stay in full time education for longer than they originally intended. This compares to 13% who say the same for apprenticeships, and 22% who plan to go straight into employment.

While 44% of school leavers choosing university consider this to be the best way to get a job, and 39% believe they will get paid well if they have a degree, recent research from Incomes Data Research found that both a graduate and a fully qualified degree-level apprentice could expect to earn the same salary upon completion of their qualification (£32,500).

Data from the ONS indicates that 37% of all graduates are unable to land graduate level jobs and data from City & Guilds Group’s Skills Index report (supported by the British Chambers of Commerce) suggests that only 18% of employers intend to recruit graduates to fill skills gaps in the next 12 months as businesses prioritise new recruits who are work-ready.

C&G’s report also found that employers are twice as likely to take on apprentices or trainees to fill skills gaps (36%), as opposed to graduates (18%).

“For many young people, the idea of university being the golden ticket to a great career is ingrained from an early age,” said Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds. “But as the jobs landscape continues to reel from the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, it’s more important than ever before to understand that this isn’t the only option available to them.

“Ahead of results day, it’s important that young people understand the full range of options available to them and which types of jobs are likely to be available when they finish their studies. As part of this, we need to ensure that young people have access to robust and up to date careers advice that considers the genuine needs of the local labour market so they can make smarter choices about their career paths.”

Results anxiety

Research of 1,001 UK students aged 16-22 commissioned by FutureLearn in July found that 41% of young people are worried their exam results will have a lasting impact on their ability to get a job in the future; and 31% are worried bad exam results will impact their chances of earning enough money in the future.

It also found that 41% are worried they would not be able to get into university and 25% that they would not be able to get a job if their grades were not as they had hoped.

The research indicates that home life, not just school life, is affecting young people’s confidence levels with pressure from parents compounding a need to be seen as achieving by peers and virtual networks. Self-love is a top concern with 72% believing they would be disappointing themselves.

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The number of applicants per vacancy (APV) declined significantly across three key sectors in the first half of the year as vacancies have surged, according to data from Broadbean.

Across manufacturing and production, vacancies rose by 32%, while the APV was down 46%. Sectors experiencing the largest fall in applicant numbers were logistics & supply chain and retail, with the former seeing vacancies rise 85% and the AVP decreasing by 60%. The latter saw roles increase by 101% and applicant numbers dropped by 55% between quarter one and quarter two 2021.

Retail has been hit hardest by the so-called ‘pingdemic’, with large employers reporting that entire stores are being forced to shut because of staff needing to isolate.

“The fact that we are seeing applicant numbers fall and companies starting to really struggle to recruit is worrying and could hamper the UK’s ability to build back after the pandemic,” said Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology. “And while we expect applicant numbers to pick up once again in September after the usual summer lull, the next few weeks will prove a testing time for the employment market, particular given the huge numbers of people isolating.”

The latest Report on Jobs survey by the REC and KPMG showed that recruitment activity continued to rise sharply across the UK at the start of the third quarter, with permanent and temp billings both rising at near-record rates and starting salaries increasing at the quickest pace on record.

It found that that rising demand for staff as restrictions ended and a further marked drop in candidate supply have accelerated increases in permanent starting salaries, with the rate of salary inflation the sharpest seen in nearly 24 years of data collection. In contrast, temporary/contract staff hourly pay rates rose at the second-quickest rate since the survey began.

Overall, candidate numbers fell at the second-sharpest rate in the survey history, easing only slightly from June’s record, with Brexit cited as a key factor reducing the supply of workers, especially temporary staff.

“While companies want to invest in their business now that restrictions are lifting, demand for new staff still outstrips supply due to low candidate availability,” said Claire Warnes, Partner and Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK. “We know that reskilling and upskilling is needed to help people move between sectors, and there’s no doubt the ‘pingdemic’ has added an extra dimension to the recruitment challenge. Plus, with furlough due to end soon, there may be a downward pressure on pay to come.”

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Industry calls on HMRC to better enforce existing legislation to weed out non-compliant firms.

Frances O’Gradygeneral secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has called for a ban on the use of umbrella companies, saying: “Employers shouldn’t be able to wash their hands of any responsibility by farming out their duties to a long line of intermediaries … It’s time for ministers to ban umbrella companies, without delay.”

The TUC, which represents 5.5 million workers, estimates that half of all agency workers are employed through umbrella companies based on research it commissioned from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. It predicts a rise in the use of umbrellas to source agency workers fill post-pandemic talent shortages.

Clarke Bowles, Director of Strategic Sales at Parasol Group, commented: “After what I thought was a well written and balanced report from The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), it’s disappointing to see TUC still hold a view which in my opinion does nobody any good. Compliant and ethical providers, those who supported throughout furlough, those who ensure holiday pay is always paid are tarnished with the same brush as tax avoidance promoters and even fraudulent models.

“There is a place in the supply chain for compliant and ethical providers and many contractors choose to use an umbrella company for the benefits they receive, but I believe it is about contractor choice, regulation and enforcement.”

This view was echoed by Crawford Temple, CEO of Professional Passport, who said: “It is surprising to hear this call from Frances O’Grady as the Loan Charge APPG report commissioned by the TUC did not call for a ban. Whilst there is a lot of regulation already in place to address malpractice in the industry, a blanket ban is not the way forward and the call by the TUC serves to demonstrates a lack of understanding on how compliant umbrellas work to support workers.

“The Government needs to address the underlying issues and challenges that our industry faces as a matter of urgency, namely non-compliance, transparency and enforcement. Non-compliance is fuelled by the complexity of legislation currently in place. The lack of visible enforcement, the lengthy delays in taking any action, and targeting the workers for recovery all serve the interests of those seeking to circumvent, or disregard, the rules. HMRC holds all the data it needs to stamp out bad practice and it is simply not taking the proactive approach. This is where the real problem lies.”

Dave Chaplin, CEO of contracting authority ContractorCalculator adds: “Not surprisingly, the fraudsters aren’t scared by unenforced regulation – which is why some are happy to call for more of it – knowing that they can just carry on with limited (or no) oversight. Payroll transparency and monthly independent party auditing is where the market needs to head, and some are already leading the way on that.”

Phil Pluck, CEO of the FCSA, described the TUC’s call for a ban as ‘a knee jerk reaction to a sector that has come about through necessity’ adding that it is misguided in suggesting recruitment agencies be the provider of contingent labour.

“A contractor may move from contract to contract on almost a weekly basis with day rates for their work varying on each contract,” he explained. “Recruitment firms realised long ago that to have for example one thousand contractors on their books moving through thousands of variable rate contracts whilst actually being their employer was logistically impossible. The same contractors will then typically move from one umbrella to another around three times per annum.

“To employ a contingent worker through large numbers of contracts whilst also employing them whilst they are not actually working on a contract requires detailed knowledge in taxation, accountancy and employment law as well as a detailed understanding of highly complex software management systems. Recruitment companies are simply not equipped to properly manage and employ such a varying workforce. Hence the existence of umbrella firms. To simply suggest that umbrella firms be banned is not workable and ultimately will disadvantage the freelance worker.”

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Demand for recruiters is rising exponentially across the UK and Europe, according to new data from LinkedIn, which had 6.8 times more recruiter roles on its platform in June 2021 than the same time last year.

The research from LinkedIn highlights several talent acquisition trends in the recruitment sector that are making it more difficult for staffing and talent solutions firms to find the quality and quantity of consultants they need. It found, for example, that fewer are hiring from outside the industry than in previous years so ‘they’re increasingly competing for the same narrow set of candidates’.

It found that the number hired from previous recruiting roles has almost doubled from 33% in 2020 to 59% in 2021, attributing this in part to redundancies last year and a preference in hiring those who need less training. “The current hiring pace makes it more challenging to hire outside of recruiting because it takes time to bring newbies up-to-speed with recruiting-specific hard skills,” said Erin Scruggs, LinkedIn’s senior director of talent acquisition.

Of those that are sourced from outside recruitment, the top roles were HR (35%) and sales (12%), including account managers, project managers, and customer service representatives.

Looking at incentives and key motivators for recruitment talent, the research found that work-life balance, compensation, and company culture were still most important, but job security increased to 21% as a priority followed by purposeful mission (up 19%), having influence over tasks and priorities (up 11%) and challenging work (up 9%).

“It’s positive to see that demand for recruiter roles is growing, a trend that we’re seeing around the world, and that demand has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the UK,” said Adam Hawkins, Head of Search and Staffing EMEA at LinkedIn. “After a particularly tough year, it’s perhaps unsurprising that job security is high on the priority list when recruiters consider new roles.”

With specialist consultants in such high demand, many of those made redundant or furloughed in 2020 have been tempted to start their own business. So are we likely to see a surge in staffing firms like the 46% spike in 2018 after nearly 8,500 new recruitment start-ups were registered at Companies House?

“A raft of talent tech solutions can help start-ups punch above their weight and it’s interesting to note from LinkedIn’s research that more want greater influence over their work, and perhaps more autonomy after a year and a half of working remotely,” said Alex Evans, Programme Director of TALiNT Partners and head of the PointSix network. “However, job security has increased as a priority for recruitment talent and work / life balance is hard to achieve as a startup founder. The best staffing and talent solutions firms to work for recognised by our TIARA programme this year have all invested in training, technology, brand and management to attract and retain recruiters – and prevent key people from becoming competitors.”

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A new survey reveals that 51% of remote workers now reply faster to emails to prove they’re working – and 95% of HR workers feel most trusted to be at their desks.

A survey of 1,015 office workers commissioned by Furniture At Work through Opinion Matters highlights changes to habits and routines as remote workers seek to reassure their employers that they’re working.

It found that 20% of UK workers now have Teams on their personal mobile phone and 29% ensure Teams never goes onto an ‘away’ status. It also found that 51% have started replying to messages faster to remind colleagues they’re working; 47% have been checking in regularly with calls and emails; and 49% now send emails either early in the morning or late at night.

The survey confirmed that 10am to 11am every day is the most common time for UK workers to take a break, with 22% doing this, and Monday is the day when workers are most likely to feel productive, with 24% saying this is the day when they get the most work done. Friday is the least productive day for 36%. However, those aged 16-24 chose Wednesday as their most productive day (26%), with 22% saying Monday was their least productive day.

A spokesperson for Furniture At Work said: “With so many extending their working days when working at home, it remains to be seen how this could translate into office working. It’s important for employers to understand that their staff are having to adapt to a second major change to their working lives in 18 months. Given that 11% of the workforce still don’t feel trusted by their employer to complete their set hours in a week, considering a flexible working policy could help make a smoother transition and reassure workers that you’re not rushing them back to a place where you can see them.”

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Talent Solutions

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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