Collaborative Post

UK recruitment trends 2021


By John Moran

The coronavirus pandemic took employers by surprise and this past year has all been about adapting to survive. Job losses and furlough have been par for the course but as the economy sets itself to reopen, many businesses are starting to recruit. But the recruitment landscape in the UK is far different to what it was 12 to 18 months ago.

COVID-19 seems set to be the biggest disruptor to the UK labour market in recent memory. Whilst adapting was hard, this last year has exposed many to a way of working that they will have never even considered. As recruitment restarts, employers need to be aware of the trends that will affect their business. To remain competitive in the ‘new normal’ economy, you need to be prepared.

Hybrid Working

In recent weeks everyone from business leaders to the Prime Minister has been declaring that the UK workforce is rearing to get back to work. For some industries, where in-person contact is vital, like hospitality and retail, this is definitely true. However, for office-based employees, the story is completely different. Some reports go as far as suggesting that around half of UK office workers would consider resigning if forced to go back to the office full time.

This isn’t to say they don’t want to work, it’s just that the pandemic has made them realise there is a better way. UK employees now value the flexibility of a hybrid work model in giving them a better job and life satisfaction.

Put simply, hybrid work models incorporate a flexible mix of remote and in-office working. Some have suggested scheduled days for working remotely or in office, whilst others have allowed their employees to take the lead and determine what is right for them. How this works in practice is down to you but this is a trend that’s here to stay. Recognising this early could ensure you have access to the best talent available to help grow your business.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

We live in a time of growing awareness of the systemic injustices in society. The average person on the street is far more informed about global social issues such as modern slavery, animal cruelty and climate change. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that how a business conducts itself in the public forum is becoming a top priority for job-seekers.

While it’s important to attract talent, it’s equally as important to the retention and satisfaction of existing employees. A report from Qualtrics found that nearly 60% of employees are more motivated at work because of their organisations CSR initiatives. 82% of employees also felt proud to be associated with their employer because of their social initiatives. Having a proud and motivated workforce engaged with your business is fundamental for success.

Growing Requirement for Digital Skills


A recent report from the Learning and Work Institute highlighted that 92% of employers consider basic digital skills a prerequisite for their current roles. The same report also showed that 76% of business believed that not having employees with an appropriate digital skillset would affect their growth and profitability. To counter this, many employers are now factoring in on-the-job training for the skills they need. But this isn’t practical for every business.

The growing digital skills shortage is becoming a big concern for the UK economy. As the way we do business grows ever more digital, basic digital skills are now just as essential as basic numeracy or literacy. Until these skills are valued in the national curriculum alongside maths and English, this skills shortage is going to remain a problem.

Background Screening

Background screening is becoming far more common in the UK. While we still check our staff far less than our US counterparts (around 95% of all US employees are background checked) the number of UK employers incorporating screening into their recruitment is growing. With employment fraud growing over the past year, many employers are starting to consider the value of pre-employment screening.

There is a range of different checks available for employers. These can range from DBS Checks (formerly CRB Checks) which show someone’s criminal record history, all the way to, adverse financial or media checks. While not all checks are useful for all levels of recruit, background screening is particularly useful when recruiting senior management or C-level candidates.