Sixty per cent of small businesses (SMEs) are planning to recruit more staff over the coming months as we emerge from lockdown.


Research by the new bank Recognise, found 62 per cent of SMEs said they would be employing more staff as restrictions are lifted and business gets back to normal.

More than a third of SME firms surveyed (37 per cent) said they would be recruiting more full-time staff, while 15 per cent said they would be employing more part-time workers and 18 per cent of respondents said they would be hiring more temporary and seasonal workers.

One downbeat side to the news is that some employers are struggling to hire staff amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the pandemic and Brexit, industry figures reveal.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco there had been a sharp decline in the numbers of EU workers, fuelling the risk of labour shortages.

Separate figures from Adzuna showed rapid growth in hiring, with almost 1m vacancies listed on the jobs website, up 18 per cent on six weeks ago amid a rise in jobs in hotels, restaurants and in the events and leisure sector. But it warned there had been a steep decline in overseas jobseeker interest.

The jobs website, which is tracked by Government officials for early warning signs from the labour market, said the decline was being led in particular by overseas interest in typically lower-paid service-led sectors, while some towns and cities have up to 20 jobs on offer per jobseeker. According to the research, Maidstone in Kent is the hardest place to hire, followed by Manchester, Cambridge and Oxford.

Further research from the Recognise survey found less than one in five of SMEs surveyed (18 per cent) said they would be cutting staff numbers in the coming months, with just eight per cent saying they would be laying off full-time workers and seven per cent saying they would reduce the number of part-time employees. Just under a quarter of smaller firms (24 per cent) Recognise surveyed said they would be keeping employee numbers the same.

While employment plans were consistent across most UK industry sectors, there were some stand-out areas where small and medium sized businesses are clearly gearing up for an increase in trade as restrictions are relaxed over the next two months. Recognise found:

• 72 per cent of SMEs in the financial services and insurance sector said they would be recruiting, with more than half of the roles (53 per cent) in full-time positions
• 65 per cent of all small and medium sized retailers said they would employ more people, with over a third (35 per cent) in full-time roles

The survey also found that only nine per cent of all the SME businesses surveyed still have staff on furlough.

Recognise currently has dedicated relationship managers in London, Midlands, Manchester and Leeds, with more coming on stream soon.

The bank’s research and analysis was carried out in May 2021 amongst a nationally representative sample of 500 senior decision makers in British SMEs by 3Gem.

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