Research released today by Monster, a UK-based recruitment platform, reveals how the UK job market outlook for the year ahead compares to other countries in Europe, the US and Canada, and offers insight into how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the way employers hire and train candidates for the future.
Despite a challenging year, the research – conducted among 3,100 recruiters and HR professionals, plus 8,800 candidates from around the world – reveals the industry is still optimistic for the year ahead, with many UK businesses hoping to adapt further to accommodate the changing expectations and needs of employees.
Monster has released its annual ‘The Future of Work Special Report’, which includes valuable insights into the UK and global jobs market through new research conducted among both recruitment professionals and candidates. The key findings include:
Hiring Outlook for 2021
Overall, most recruiters in the UK are feeling optimistic about hiring in the year ahead, with 65 percent planning to hire in 2021. A third (35 percent) will be hiring to replace job vacancies, while over 30 percent will be expanding to fill new job requirements.
Despite this positive outlook, UK recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are the most likely to anticipate hiring freezes over the coming months (34 percent). Compared to the United States, Canada, and other countries in Europe, the UK is the least optimistic about hiring in 2021. More than half of recruiters and decision makers in Canada, France, The Netherlands, and Sweden, are expecting to hire this year to fill job vacancies, compared to only a third in the UK.
The outlook also varies by industry. The UK healthcare industry leads with 89 percent of recruiters planning to hire in the year ahead. The majority of HR and recruitment professionals in the manufacturing (77 percent), technology (69 percent) and retail (69 percent) are also expecting to fill either new positions or replace jobs lost during the pandemic.
The future also looks positive for the leisure and hospitality industry, with 59 percent of recruiters expecting to fill new positions in the trade.
Commenting on the research, Derek Jenkins, Managing Director Monster in the UK and Ireland, said: “There is no doubt that the hiring outlook varies by industry and that UK recruiters are the most nervous of job freezes, but what is clear is that many industries continue to move forward and grow, which will no doubt lead to a continued demand for reskilling in the future.”
Confidence in Talent
Although fewer hires are predicted in the year ahead compared to other countries, confidence remains high for finding the right candidates to fill open positions. In fact, almost all recruitment professionals (94 percent) are positive they will be able to find the best talent for roles.
This shows a positive outlook, however the ability to find and identify suitable, high quality candidates quickly will still be one of the biggest challenges for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals in the year ahead.
One third of employers agree the skills gap has increased compared to one year ago, with the most prominent types of skills gaps being critical thinking (33 percent), communication (26 percent) and dedication (20 percent).
Identifying quality candidate matches quickly (42 percent), effectively screening and assessing candidates’ pre-interview (42 percent) and effectively assessing candidates in interviews (46 percent), are all concerns. A third of recruiters (33 percent) anticipate that filtering through an increased number of applications for roles and anticipate finding candidates with the required skills will also be a major challenge in 2021.
Britain is leading the way when it comes to virtual onboarding; 74 percent are already are using virtual technology for at least half of all candidate interviewing and new-hire onboarding.
Over 15 percent of UK recruiters have gone fully virtual in their recruitment processes. This compares to less than 10 percent in Europe.
Despite these advancements, some participants believe tech can prevent them from finding the perfect candidate fit for roles. In fact, a third of recruiters are concerned about virtual recruiting, while half of participants believe this method makes it difficult to truly show candidates the company values and culture. Over 60 percent also feel an online process makes it harder to ensure candidates align with these values.
This is echoed in the consumer research; over a third of UK candidates felt that virtual hiring makes it difficult for them to assess how a company’s values and culture aligned with their own.
Evolving to Support New Candidate Priorities
In a post-COVID-19 world, businesses will need to adapt to the demands of today’s candidates. Most recruiters (77 percent) expect candidates to place increased importance on workplace safety when considering a new role.
Derek Jenkins said: “Our research shows that UK workers are struggling with job-related anxiety (35 percent) and headaches from too much screen time (14 percent). UK workers are more likely than in any other country to suffer with depression (19 percent). Over 40 percent of British women and nearly 30 percent of men experience job-related anxiety. It’s therefore more important than ever that businesses reassess their employee wellbeing policies.”
Many British companies are already considering updating policies to support workers in the future. Nearly 40 percent will update their health protocols, while one in ten businesses will update retirement plan options, paid volunteer days and paid family leave.
Almost half of businesses are now more open to remote working and flexible work schedules. One third are working towards reducing workplace footprint due to fewer employees working on-site. This aligns with the needs of UK employees; 42 percent want their employer to offer a more flexible work environment, while one in ten employees wants their employer to reduce workplace footprint.
Although many are already making changes to accommodate the expectations of candidates in a post-COVID-19 world, almost a third (28 percent) of recruiters are concerned about the new work/life balance expectations of workers. A third (33 percent) worry how to determine candidate work from home productivity potential.
While nearly 40 percent of recruiters and decision makers credit the industry for adapting well in response to the pandemic, 29 percent believe that the human resources, talent acquisition and recruiting industry still has a lot to learn to be successful in the future.
Diversity and Inclusion
The research revealed that, according to recruiters, candidates in the UK feel most strongly about the importance of a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Despite a stronger emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, globally over half of respondents have not, nor are they planning to update their DEI strategies. This is in stark contrast to candidates’ desire for employers to offer diversity training (35 percent), build a diverse workforce (34 percent), create elements of an inclusive work environment and workspace (29 percent), and encourage employee resource groups (20 percent).
Derek Jenkins concludes: “There are certainly lessons to be learnt from the dramatic shift in the ‘new normal’. We hope that by investigating the biggest challenges and plans for the industry in 2021 and sharing these insights alongside candidate research, we can further support businesses and recruiters as we move into a new era for the industry.
“Despite the hurdles, the state of the recruiter remains strong. Monster has released the findings of the research in a report, which we hope will help job seekers and employers face future challenges together.”