Job vacancies: record highs or figures falling?

What does the number of job vacancies tell us about the state of the employment market? Well, the answer could depend on your chosen source…

Two different news items published only a day apart suggest that:

a) Advertised job vacancies are falling and reflect a ‘cooling off’ period 

Source: Recruiting Times & Adzuna

Adzuna has been recording its own data since 2012. However, it will not have access to the same quantity of data as our next source.

That said, it’s still of national interest as it considers the UK as a whole. Perhaps most interestingly, these findings also report on competition levels; stating that application numbers have fallen to an all-time low since Adzuna’s records began 6 years ago.

b)  Job vacancies have reached a record high since 2001

Source: HR Review & the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Conversely, the ONS reports that job vacancy numbers have reached the highest level recorded in 17 years. Although these figures are taken from the August to October 2018 period; Adzuna’s refer to the ‘latest data’ which may well be exploring the past month.

This report also reflects a talent shortage, stating that ’employers across many sectors are continuing to experience fundamental challenges in finding the staff and skills that they need.’

What the REC has to say on this topic…

As you may well know, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation also conducts regular research.

Their latest press release explored October’s figures and found:

  • Staff appointment numbers rose at their fastest rate last month.
  • Job vacancies ‘expanded at the softest pace’ for almost two years in October, yet staff demand was ‘historically sharp’.
  • Overall candidate availability fell at its steepest rate in nine months.

Considering all these findings, it appears that there is greater consensus across the sources than it might have appeared at first glance.

Certainly, each agrees that businesses are facing skills shortages, with HR Review reporting that “employers can expect to face continued recruitment and retention pressures and need to prioritise workforce planning.”

Looking to overcome the skills shortage?

Training as an incentive

Why we all need to see training as an incentive at work…

Currently, HR Review reports that only 25% of HR professionals believe their employers provide a ‘learning culture’ for their staff. The remaining three quarters say:

  • They’re still working towards creating a learning environment (59%:).
  • Such a culture is completely absent (11%).
  • This isn’t considered a business priority (5%).

Yet these businesses may want to rethink things. After all…

Employees see training as an incentive to stay in their roles!

In fact, in an HR News post, we hear that 90% of UK employees consider training as ‘vital to furthering their career’.

  • 42% go as far as to say they ‘strongly agree’ with its importance.
  • 95% of respondents aged 55 and over deem this to be ‘crucial’.
  • Alongside this, 86% of people think that continued training will reduce staff turnover levels.

Time is the main barrier for team members choosing whether or not to attend a course. Many employees express worry about having to be away from their desks for too long.

Which takes us onto the question of training strategies…

It seems that out of those who actually offer staff training, many businesses are predominantly focusing their attention on:

  • Trainee level programmes (38%).
  • Coaching style training (35%).

Conversely, the following training types are considered to be ‘low priority’:

  • Online training courses (32%).
  • Onboarding initiatives (27%).
  • ‘Knowledge sharing’ (29%).

But are these businesses making a mistake? The article would suggest so. Referencing the continued focus on the ‘skills economy’ (and the fact 2/3 of employees have resigned due to the absence of training opportunities!), it calls for companies to prioritise ‘modern training practices’.

It’s not only the digital courses that are promoted within this, yet also the need to encourage knowledge sharing so that vital information isn’t lost when employees move on to other roles.

You may also see training as an incentive to attract new staff members in the first place. We can help you shout about the learning and development benefits offered to employees. For further support, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Related reading:

Too tired and stressed for work

Are we a nation of tired and stressed employees? Recent reports should come as a warning sign to professionals of every job level…

We learned that almost half of UK working adults fail to do anything to cope with their work-related stress. What’s more, professional services employees are the least likely to do anything to help themselves.

HR Review reports that a lack of time is the primary barrier for the majority of people (65%). Perhaps no surprises there!

Other barriers are said to include financial constraints and the fact few employers incorporate stress relief into their employee benefits.

How are other people reducing their stress?

  • Physical activity tops the list of popular activities for 44% of those surveyed.
  • In second place comes hobbies/personal interests (39%).
  • While others prefer to relax with family and friends (35%).

Another urgent health issue:

There’s another workplace wellness issue that’s affecting almost as many employees (46%)…and it’s fatigue. Fatigue enters the realms of ‘extreme tiredness’ which may have a physical and/or mental cause.

HR Magazine reveals that employees feeling too tired to work are:

  • Experiencing forgetfulness (37%).
  • Becoming ‘short-tempered with colleagues (30%).
  • And even falling asleep during the working day (22%). Most worryingly of all, 13% of workers have fallen asleep while driving.

Yet, despite the severity of the potential consequences, 86% of people do not feel their colleagues or management team will understand this issue. Furthermore, fewer than 10% would feel able to call in sick due to fatigue.

Drawing a connection…

While these could be two distinct issues, they may also be highly interlinked. After all, mental stress can lead to fatigue. Naturally, if workers are unable to do anything to relieve their stress, the problem can become more severe – and even create a culture of chronically tired and stressed employees.

How to help the tired and stressed!

We all need to do what we can to prioritise our stress management. We have a proactive guide, including support links, here (for employees of every working level).

Let’s not forget that employers and managers are also prone to becoming tired and stressed! While it can feel ‘professional’ to keep plugging away, there are two primary business costs. Productivity and financial. There’s a great piece about these over on Forbes.

Employers are additionally reminded of their duty to undertake work-related stress risk assessments (information can also be found here).

Whether it’s hiring some extra hands, opening up the conversation about fatigue, reducing the working day, increasing holiday allowance and/or banning work activity outside of office hours, there’s plenty that can be done to benefit all.

Working into older age: is it a choice?

Many of us will now be working into older age. Wondering why? The primary reason happens to be a half-decade first!

Earlier this year, we shared a LinkedIn post which predicts that 6 million of us will work right into our eighties. This is well beyond the current State Pension ages (and there’s a calculator on the website if you’re yet to know yours!).

So, why are we working into older age? Is it a choice or not?

More than two-fifths of employees say that this is a positive lifestyle choice – according to research on the reasons for working beyond 65 years of age.

This means that ‘choice’ has finally beaten a financial incentive for the first time in 50 years! Specifically:

  • 36% of people are likely to work beyond 65 years primarily due to their job enjoyment.
  • 1/4 of workers will make the choice based on non-monetary work benefits, such as social interactions.
  • However, 29% still say this is due to not being able to rely upon their pension alone.

The full findings list can be found on the HR Review website.

So where would you sit on this survey? As ever, we’d be interested to hear your thoughts via Twitter and LinkedIn.

And how will this shape the future of work?

This is such an interesting topic. It’s also one that we touch upon in our next HR Newsletter regarding the future workplace as a whole. Keep an eye on your inbox/let us know if you’d like to receive a copy!

The Appoint HR Newsletter is a quarterly resource especially created for business owners, HR managers and team leaders.

If you’re intrigued by shifting workplace trends, we’d also recommend you read this feature. It reports on the findings of a 10-year study into ‘alternative workplaces’…AKA the flexible working, remote working, shared offices and similar that really aren’t so alternative anymore!

New starter advice: for employees & managers

New starter advice for managers and employees…

Poor onboarding (or failing to create a positive new starter experience) is more of a problem than you might think. In fact, it’s said to be costing our national economy millions of pounds.

So where are things going so wrong?

This problem is far from a UK-only issue. Research conducted on 9,000 job-seekers from 11 countries; spanning four continents highlights just how vital the early job experience is to staff retention.

  • 91% of respondents (and remember that’s from 9,000 people!) would be open to leaving a role within the first month.
  • 93% would be willing to do so within their probation period.

And as for why, the reasons stated include:

  1. ‘Poor management’ (44%)
  2. The disparity between an advertised job and the realities of the role (44%)
  3. A ‘mismatch with corporate culture’ (38%)
  4. Poor onboarding efforts (36%)
  5. An alternative job offer (23%)

How to overcome a poor new starter experience…

As the new employee:

  • Firstly, make sure you’re doing all that you can to get the most out of your early experience. You’ll find a dedicated new starter advice PDF on our Downloads page (top right!).
  • Sometimes our nerves and the weight of our expectations can cloud our perceptions of the role itself. Focusing on our individual performance and seeing how we can achieve our early job aims can help to direct our focus of attention. Plus, if you do decide to leave the role, you know that you’ve at least put the effort in on your side!
  • In addition, be sure to communicate your concerns to your recruitment consultant. They may be better placed to suss out any issues that are affecting your onboarding experience. For instance, if the team are facing additional challenges that are diverting their time and resources.
  • They may additionally be able to obtain insights into any disparities that you have encountered. And, where appropriate, they may be able to discuss the alternative job offer that you’ve received.
  • If you’re certain that you cannot remain within the company, there’s all the more reason to have a chat with your consultant to ensure that you depart in a professional manner.

As the employer:

  • Many of the reasons for leaving can also fall under the umbrella of poor onboarding efforts, or reason 4. For instance, the failure to assign your new starter a manager/dedicated point of contact; not providing early access to this contact, and a lack of discussion regarding the company culture/efforts to ascertain the employee’s expectations regarding this. The good news? All onboarding elements can be overcome!
  • We have a separate tips post at the ready for you (scroll to the final section).
  • We’d recommend incorporating these tips into a prevention strategy. Effectively onboarding each new starter should be an integral part of all future recruitment efforts. For further advice on staff attraction, onboarding and retention, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Training for the future: what’s needed?

What training is required to secure future work? And what’s stopping employees from pursuing further education right now? 

Training for the future

If you’ve already visited the website this week, the future of work may be on your mind! We now return to this topic, having read HR Review’s post on preparing ‘for the jobs of the future‘.

The article describes a ‘tension’ that exists between the needs of future work and the training offered to employees to cope with this. In other words, will there be enough people with a solid understanding of smart technology?

HR Review highlights businesses’ responsibility to ensure employees receive ample training. And how this training must go beyond the traditional degree route and into the direction of lifelong learning.

91% of workers, job hunters and students surveyed support this notion. Yet many fear employers will still place too much value on traditional education systems. Therefore, business owners, managers and HR professionals may need to put their heads together to establish new approaches to staff attraction, selection and development.

Unable to afford adult education

Over on HR News, further education is also being discussed. This time exploring the barriers preventing British adults from pursuing further education.

The top reasons include:

  • The cost (35%)
  • Lack of time (19%)
  • Lack of need (18%)
  • Low motivation (17%)
  • Low energy (17%)

Due to these barriers, only 27% of people are likely to pursue adult learning.

Worrying stats when you consider how fundamental the ability to develop new skills will be to the sustainability of future work.

Does this mean that businesses will need to do more to ensure staff receive regular training? Or do workers need to prioritise their continued professional development? Perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Let us know your thoughts via Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn. 

What’s your purpose at work?

How often do you consider the purpose or meaning of your work? The latest career news suggests this topic is growing in importance for many employees. Some of the findings may also surprise…

Far from any career-hopping stereotypes, millennials are looking for meaning:

The first news item that we’d like to discuss today comes from the Independent. For reference, this article classifies millennials as those born from 1980 to 1999.

Using research from education charity Teach First, we’re told:

  • Millennials aren’t really switching and swapping between careers as casually as the media might suggest!
  • More than 1/2 of millennials have actually opted to stay in the same career sector for fear of starting from scratch – or the possibility that a new route ‘will not work out’.
  • Only 19% of respondents would choose a high salary over personal fulfilment.
  • And, right at the crux of today’s conversation, this group is primarily seeking ‘greater meaning’, social impact, and a role that ‘will make a difference to other peoples’ lives’.

Managers would accept a pay cut for a sense of purpose:

Our second news item appeared in HR Review. In a separate survey focusing specifically on managers of unspecified age (so, this may also include some millennial workers), we hear:

  • Over 1/4 of British managers would take a pay cut to join a company with a greater purpose than making a profit.
  • 32% of people would leave their current role if they could not see evidence of this.
  • While 53% would resign if they realised the business’s values didn’t match their own.
  • All companies looking to recruit and retain talent should consider ‘the importance of having a defined company purpose that marries commercial success with social progress’.
  • Purpose-led employees are found to be ‘more positive, more engaged and have greater career confidence’.

In some ways, this shouldn’t surprise…

Purpose is proven to support our mental and physical health.  The sense of purpose lends us all some extra motivation. Including the motivation to stay well enough to hop up on a Monday morning and head to work. It also reduces stress and (rather helpfully!) minimises the risk of premature death.

Is finding a greater sense of meaning or purpose part of that niggle that something’s not right in your work? You may find our FAQ on ‘what next’ for your career a helpful read.

Are working parents under too much pressure?

Why are working parents facing so much pressure? We review findings from The Modern Families Index 2018…

Working parents ‘obliged’ to overwork

The study – published by Working Families and Bright Horizons (as discussed in HR Review)– shows:

Many parents feel it is necessary to work beyond their contractual arrangements, due to high workloads or perceived expectations.

  • 39% of parents are unable to put their children to bed on a regular basis due to work
  • 42% are not around to assist their children with homework
  • 28% say they argue with their partners about their job
  • 1 in 3 feels ‘burnt out’ all/most of the time. More than 50% directly attribute this to their work.

What does an average working week look like?

  • Parents contracted to 35-36 hours of work a week are actually undertaking an additional 40% more hours. A third of this group is working one extra day (7 hours) each week.
  • Parents with a 25 hour a week contract are working 34% more hours weekly. 30% of this group could actually be classified as full-time employees, working a total of 35 hours!
  • Not all of these hours are paid, costing households an average of £1,927 (for part-time workers) to £2,429 (for full-time workers) each year.

For more stats on the effects on parents’ health habits, and the impact flexible working has on these findings, it’s worth reading the full HR Review article.

The piece suggests parents are ‘deliberately stalling and downshifting their careers’ in an attempt to limit the effects on modern family life.

What can we do to help?

This situation is part of a cultural pattern that, sadly, is unlikely to disappear overnight. Much of the power to change this currently lies with employers. We’d recommend all local businesses read the short report on the Working Families website. And if you only read one page of this, make it Page 6.

In times of a skills shortage, it’s vital that businesses are in the position to attract quality applicants. This will naturally include many of the 11 million+ working parents throughout the UK.

As for working parents, we recommend reviewing your working arrangements to ensure they’re the most appropriate fit for your current needs. If it’s time for a change, be sure to find a trusted REC-registered recruitment agency who will truly understand your needs.

For further recruitment advice and support, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Excellent news for permanent jobs!

It’s been another fantastic period for permanent jobs, with UK placements reaching a 3-month peak…

The data (from the ‘IHS Markit & REC Report on Jobs’ – as reported by HR Review) demonstrates continued employer demand. Temporary job placements have also increased through this period. All very promising for the health and growth of the economy.

Findings suggest:

  • Increased demand has driven up average starting salaries for Permanent workers
  • The average hourly rate for Temporary workers has also increased
  • However, longer-term salary growth figures are as yet unknown
  • Demand is greater in the private sector at this time
  • Accountancy/Financial and IT placements have seen the biggest growth


While the Southern region has also experienced growth, this has only been deemed ‘modest’.

Furthermore, the Skills Shortage remains the primary theme of recruitment challenges in 2017. In fact, the REC is calling on the government to put this at the heart of their ‘New Year’s resolutions!’

Here in Bath:

We’re fortunate to support some thriving businesses – including those in the growing finance and financial services sector (alongside other commercial office industries). You’ll see we’re currently recruiting for a variety of administrative, finance, and technical jobs – alongside temporary Christmas work opportunities in Bath and surrounding.

Demand for candidates remains strong. You can read our advice piece on how to use the Skills Shortage to your advantage, whether you’re an employer or job-seeker.

Looking for further advice? We’re here to discuss your recruitment needs and welcome new CVs.

Millennials choose SME employers

Why do millennials choose SME employers over their larger counterparts? Exploring the latest stats and what these mean for Bath…

Almost half (47%) of millennials say SME businesses represent their ideal employer size. Conversely, just 19% favour a larger employer, according to research shared by HR Review.

What is an SME business?

‘SME’ stands for Small to Medium Enterprises – with such businesses employing anywhere from 1 to 249 staff members.

‘Millennials’ (also known as ‘Generation Y’) commonly refers to anyone born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s.

So, what’s the attraction of an SME?

The research explores both respondents’ working values and expectations in relation to businesses of different sizes. The findings show:

  • Flexible working hours is the most desired working benefit among millennials. Furthermore, it’s one that 43% believe to be a characteristic of SMEs.
  • This was followed by career progression, higher salaries, and friendlier working cultures. Again, each of these being benefits perceived more likely within an SME.

You can find the full stats on HR Review.

What does this mean for Bath?

As discussed in our Career Change special, SME business dominates the South-West. The 2016 ONS stats say 103,370 companies employed 0-4 people. Clearly, vastly more than the region’s 505 employing more than 250 last year.

Once again, we must consider the meaning of such stats. This research is based on people’s values and perceptions, rather than employers’ specific offerings. Not all SME businesses are in the position to provide each of the most desired benefits, after all.

Yet this doesn’t mean that these results are not of value to local job-seekers or employers…

  • As an employer: you’re receiving an insight into (some of!) a generation’s core values. This becomes valuable when tailoring an attractive and competitive recruitment offering – something we can help you achieve.
  • As a job-seeker: firstly you can feel confident that there are many SME opportunities throughout the region. Visit our latest jobs listings for more. Yet it’s also a great reminder to consider your working values. What do you most need from your next role; what will allow you to truly commit to a permanent position? Your Recruitment Consultant will be able to advise on what is most realistic at this time and any recruiting clients you are most suited to.

For further advice on your recruitment plans, please call the office on 01225 313130.