Employment Trends of 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to consider what the year taught us about employment trends in the UK.

Many different factors impacted the employment market in 2019. From a political point of view, the past 12 months have been dominated by the Government’s Brexit negotiations. A key element to emerge from this has been the willingness of UK companies to still grow, develop and invest while the UK grapples with knowing it’s overall direction.

One company that made a major investment in the UK this year is Newpoint Capital Ltd. The London based firm invested heavily in the City of London with a move to purpose built new offices as part of an overall expansion of their UK, European and African sectors from their Head Office here in London. CEO Keith Beekmeyer said: ‘We recognise that this may have seemed like a difficult year from the outside looking in, however, we’ve continued to grow and develop and we’re not alone in choosing to base that growth here in London.’

Businesses may still need to prepare their organisations for the impact a final deal will have on their long-term plans but securing the right talent to support those plans is a more burning issue and needs to be addressed. In employment trend terms, much of the predictions of 2018 have held true for this year’s businesses.

Predictions from last year that have indeed had an effect on recruitment, employment and retention this year include: –

  1. The digitisation effect

Despite earlier predictions (scare tactics?) that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics would steal our jobs, the latest reports show that they are having the opposite effect.

Rather, it’s now apparent that AI will be all about displacement, not replacement, of traditional jobs. It’s predicted that around seven million UK jobs in sectors such as manufacturing and transport could be displaced by AI between 2017 and 2037. But it also seems that about 7.2 million new jobs could be created, notably in sectors like health and science – meaning a net growth in jobs of about 200,000. The one thing that is clear is that the evolution of the workplace is here.

However, the UK talent market is already experiencing a lack of digital skills needed to help businesses adapt to digitisation, AI and automation. All the indicators show that demand for skilled professionals in finance, technology, marketing and business support will continue to grow in line with the sharpening focus on productivity, digitisation and automation.

  1. The impact of your employer brand

Finding candidates is the first step in winning the war for talent. But persuading in-demand professionals to join your firm over another is just as much of a challenge.

Every company’s reputation is already out there for all to see, and social media sites such as Glassdoor serve to provide feedback from current and past employees to help prospective clients to do their homework before an interview is even in their diary.

It is increasingly important to candidates that they find roles with organisations that provide a collaborative, flexible workplace that also makes them feel invested in the success of their team. Recently, the British Chamber of Commerce has cited a link between flexibility and increased productivity levels which can only be a good thing for business.

  1. Streamlining your time to hire

Demand for the best professionals with the most relevant skills continued to grow this year – and acting more quickly to secure chosen candidates must be high on businesses’ agendas.

There’s several evidentiary articles pointing to candidates now not waiting to hear from their first choice job offer, but accepting a different job instead when their first choice job took too long to decide. Employers need to understand that today’s graduates live in an instant, fast paced world, and they need to adjust their hiring times accordingly to avoid losing out on the best candidates.

  1. Calling on the professional gig economy

Having identified and communicated the unique selling points of your business, as well as addressing the lags in your hiring process, it’s worth thinking about flexible recruitment strategies. What we’re calling the professional gig economy is well underway, with over 15% of the UK workforce now classed as self-employed.

As it gains momentum, this trend opens a wealth of new strategic staffing possibilities for businesses. Organisations are beginning to rely more heavily on flexible recruitment models as a means of balancing economic uncertainty and lack of available talent.

  1. Focus on retention

Once you have attracted and secured the right people, the next challenge is to ensure they stay. According to several research sources, almost one in four people would consider leaving their current job if an equivalent job with a better remuneration package came along, and would also be influenced to leave for a job with better benefits, more flexible hours and/or working practices etc.

Retention strategies as companies approach 2020 should aim to focus more on the human-first approach, beginning with leadership techniques. The same research as noted above found that employees were most happy at work when they felt a sense of appreciation, pride in their organisation and when they were treated with fairness and respect.

Another reason for candidates to leave their roles is that an employer is unable to provide a clear development path, including training. As many as three-quarters of candidates are more likely to quit their jobs if this is the case, compared with three years ago.

  1. Wages and Salaries

Pay expectations for this last 12 months grew slightly among both private and public sector employers. Expectations remain higher within the private sector, increasing from 2% three months ago to 2.5% this quarter. Public sector expectations rose from 1% to 1.5%. The overall basic pay expectations for all employers remains unchanged at 2%.

However, the share of employers that expect basic pay to increase by 3% or more has increased compared with the same period last year. More than one in three (36%) employers expect their basic pay award to increase by at least 3% in the year ahead, which compares with 28% of employers in the same period last year.

Additionally, significant sectors of the labour market − such as construction, retail and hospitality − are signalling that continuing recruitment and retention pressures are putting upward pressure on salaries for the majority of staff.

Overall, there is a fairly simple summary to this: look after your staff, hire and recruit with care – and with speed – and make sure you’re prepared to keep up-to-date with offering tempting benefits and flexibility packages. All of those things combined should help to keep you and your staff – and by osmosis your company – on the path to success.