Employer confidence in hiring at all-time high

But, staff shortages threaten to damage their optimism.

Employer confidence in their ability to recruit new staff and make investment decisions improved in the three months to June, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s JobsOutlook survey.

Confidence levels rose to a net rate of +33 – the highest ever recorded in the survey, which launched in 2016.

The survey also found business confidence in the UK economy rose six percentage points to +17 (net), the second rolling quarter in a row the barometer has been in positive territory.

Across Heads Resourcing Group of Executive Heads, Procurement Heads and ourselves at HR Heads, we have an all-time high level of live vacancies, however, the war on talent and the reasons for the talent shortage – as I discussed recently – are resulting in a highly competitive market where talent has huge leverage.

Kate Shoesmith, the REC’s Deputy CEO, said, “As restrictions have lifted over the past few months, we have seen employer confidence shoot upwards, and the confidence in hiring has reached a new record high.

“More importantly, this has translated into real-world recruitment activity, with more job adverts being posted and recruiters are working harder than ever to hire the right people for the right roles.

“But a number of factors, including the pandemic, are causing serious staff shortages now. Many hirers are seeing workers feel understandably more cautious about changing jobs after such an unpredictable 18 months.

“Businesses will have to think hard about their offer if they want to attract staff, not just in terms of pay but also benefits, working conditions, and work-life balance.”

With the economic outlook improving and restrictions being eased between April and June, more businesses are looking to bring in more temporary staff in the coming months to help them navigate the fluid nature of the pandemic. In the three months to June, hiring intentions for temporary agency workers in the short term (in the next three months) increased by four percentage points to a net: +28. 

Other key figures from the latest JobsOutlook survey include:

  • Employers’ intentions to hire permanent staff in both the short and medium term remained high at net: +23 and net: +26 respectively.
  • Demand for agency workers in the medium term (in the next 4-12 months) fell by eight percentage points, to net: +16.
  • In June, one third (33%) of all respondents said that they were struggling to hire new staff because workers are reluctant to change jobs, while one in four (26%) said it was because they couldn’t offer competitive salaries.

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