Rise in recruitment trends but worker productivity remains a concern

The recent BDO’s Business Trends report shows that firms continue to have high expectations for hiring this year and the trend is expected to grow. A reading of 100 in the BDO’s employment index indicates jobs growth ‘above the long-term trend’. The reading for March 2015 was 113, which follows on from an equally high reading for the preceding month at 113.1. The report suggests that the two months’ strong data means employer’s hiring intentions are now “sky high”.

However, this news comes at a time when new figures from the ONS show that UK productivity growth has been weakest since the Second World War, with a 0.2 per cent decrease in productivity in the third quarter of the financial year, leaving output per hour worked little changed on the previous year and slightly lower than in 2007, before the UK’s longest and deepest modern recession. With workers producing less than they did in 2007, Britain’s productivity gap with its major economic rivals, such as the US, Germany and France, has widened. Peter Hemington, Partner at BDO said:  “While it is encouraging to see strong business confidence, the UK’s continuing poor labour productivity performance is a very significant concern.”

UK workers expect to work beyond retirement age

Research findings from Canada Life Insurance group show that around three in five (61 per cent) of UK employees will work beyond the retirement age of 65, up from 32 per cent in 2012. Almost nine in ten respondents (88 per cent) cited financial worries as the reason they are likely to work beyond 65 while a third (32 per cent) said their pension savings will not be sufficient to fund retirement. As Paul Avis, marketing director of Canada Life Group explained: “The recent recession has no doubt taken a toll as employees accept that their current savings and pensions are unlikely to cover the cost of retirement, but improvements in health also mean that people are able to work longer.”

The survey also found that 69 per cent those aged between 21 and 30 believed they will work after 65 compared to those aged 50 to 60. Canada Life believes that the younger generation has been particularly hard hit by the recession and that employers need to be prudent in how they offer suitable benefits and flexibility to support the entire workforce.

Flexible working on the rise amongst UK firms

A study by the recruitment company Robert Half has revealed that remote working in the UK has increased by more than a third (37 per cent) in the last three years. Public sector employees were most likely to work flexibly, with a 47 per cent increase in remote working.

 The bi-annual survey of more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives showed that 60 per cent of HR directors believe that giving employees the option to choose their working arrangements could boost their productivity. More than half of the respondents said that giving them greater autonomy would increase creativity amongst their staff while 45 per cent said it would make employees easier to manage. Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half, said: “Employees can work just as effectively remotely, especially now that advancements in technology have enabled us to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions in the office.” However, he also suggests that before implementing a flexible working initiative, companies should ensure that they have proper structures in place “so that benefits for employees are balanced with business needs.”