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“128-ish Days Later…”

Welcome to the latest Oakleaf update…a full 128-ish days after the Brexit vote! I thought I would start by giving you some facts and figures on the HR recruitment landscape as we see it, some 128 days on.  Chatting to colleagues in other firms, it feels like a fairly consistent picture. Over the last month, our new mandates are averaging 15% above the annual average YTD and total live vacancies are now on a par with the 3-month average prior to Brexit. The chart below compares our average monthly vacancies (by salary bracket) for the 3-month period post-Brexit to the 3 months prior. It’s interesting to note the marked swing to Perm from Temp/Interim in the £80-100k bracket and the growth of the senior (£100k plus) Temp/Interim market, post June 24th, and a noticeable growth of permanent hiring again.  Blue is up, red is down in the 3 months since the vote.



A recent headline in The Times Business resonated with me: “Business shrugs off Brexit to create 100,000 new jobs”.  The ONS said that the official data suggested “continuing confidence in the economy”. However, other experts warned of a looming squeeze on living standards as inflation threatens to overtake pay growth.  “There is no sign yet of major detrimental effects from the Brexit vote,” said John Hawksworth, Chief Economist at PwC, “but it will take time for companies to adjust their hiring plans, so we could see some further slowdown in jobs growth over the next year.”

Of particular note (given the “Midlands Brexit vote”), is the strong performance of our newest business in the Midlands region, under the excellent leadership of Sarah Westwood.  Our Autumn Report on Midlands HR, written by our own Rebecca Evans, can be found here.


We have also just released our financial results for the last fiscal year, ending 31st March 2016.  Here is our press release:

"We are pleased to report another set of strong financial results for the year. Despite the slow-down associated with market uncertainty prior to the General Election, our turnover rose by 11%, to £10,512,204, whilst Gross Profit rose by 9%.  Our temporary business particularly excelled, with temporary margin increasing by 19%.  Headcount rose by 18%.”  

The statement continues: “We delivered another excellent performance and have physically grown the business at the same time, taking an additional floor, of 3,000 square feet, in Norfolk House, Holborn.  Our growth strategy has been, and remains, clear: we continue to aggressively grow our core businesses, with clear and simple objectives and a fiercely customer-centric mentality.  We will hire only the best talent in the market.”

"Oakleaf Partnership has achieved some major milestones this year.” said Richard Colgan, Founder and Joint CEO, “In addition to our financial performance, we also had the honour of joining The Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For at number 15, with three stars for employee engagement (the highest possible award). I am delighted with our direction of travel and we will all be working hard to ensure we continue to out-perform our market.” 

What with the General Election last year, Brexit vote this year, Article 50 next year - if only we could have a year without any “distractions” -  it might actually benefit us all!


The Oakleaf Partnership HR Academy

We recently hosted the 3rd module of the current year in our offices.  With over 40 attendees (our best attended event yet), Claire Oscroft (EMEA HR Director at The Walt Disney Company) gave an excellent presentation on “Commerciality”.  This is what our own Georgina Knowles had to say about the evening:

“We established the OP Academy to support rising HR talent as they develop their career journey and this year the programme has consisted of four key modules, each with a specific developmental theme. The concept is to bring together top nascent HR talent with successful senior HR leaders in an informal social setting, enabling attendees to take ownership of their own career development inspired by hearing about the speaker’s career and experience. This is a truly unique and invaluable opportunity for attendees to network with talented peers and senior HR professionals – expanding their personal networks of like-minded, ambitious HR professionals and sharing knowledge, learning and best practice across industry."


The impressive Claire Oscroft, led discussions on why a strong understanding of the business is important; how to develop more commercial awareness; and how HR can have a greater impact on the business.

Here are some of the key themes, discussions & learnings that came out of a thoroughly, thought-provoking session:

So what does being commercial mean and why does HR need to be commercial?


 Commerciality can be thought of in four key ways:

  • Understanding your organisation
  • Knowing the financial performance
  • Understanding your customer needs
  • Being up to date with wider industry and competitor insight


High performing HR professionals should not only know HR but will also know (in great detail) the broader business, as well as the client group they support.

Essentially you should aim to be a business person who happens to work in HR. It is now more important than ever to show how HR adds value to the business and by understanding this you can future proof your career!  This means HR needs to focus on work that adds value to the bottom line and is aligned to the business strategy.

Claire gave some fantastic tips to us all about what little changes we can make to become more commercial which included reading financial reports and keeping up to date with industry trends and customer demands. When working on HR projects you should be able to clearly link the project objectives to the business strategy which means firstly getting to know the business strategy and asking lots questions. Claire also touched upon the importance of using metrics and the language of your client group to talk “business” to the business. One common message from all three sessions by the key speakers has been: bepassionate!  If you don’t enjoy what you do, why are you doing it?

The final module at the end of November will focus on “The Future of HR and Thought Leadership”.  For more information on how you or your team can get involved please do get in touch at:





More on Millennials!

Millennials (for those unique individuals who have spent a few years away from social media!) were typically born in 80’s and 90’s.  Much has been written about how to attract, retain and motivate them.  I am familiar with the challenges, having raised two of my own, and with 65% of my colleagues now falling into that bracket also!


There are myriad surveys on millennials, but the below summary gives some key accumulated findings:

  • 90% want rapid career progression
  • 50% want global opportunities
  • 70% feel employers should provide clear promotion and bonus guidelines


Top 3 reasons millennials change jobs:

  • 25%: for a bigger salary / bonus
  • 25%: for a more fulfilling role
  • 20%: for career development opportunities


How to attract millennials:

  • Clear path for progression in place
  • Remuneration strategy should align with expectations
  • Utilise technology channels to engage
  • Personalised training in place
  • Regular ongoing feedback to feel valued


Our very own Alice Hamp gives her thoughts here:

Alice Hamp on Millennials from Oakleaf Partnership on Vimeo.



The Founder's Mentality



I’ve recently had a little time out for a bit of a knee repair operation, so I actually had some decent reading and thinking time.

During my convalescence I read an excellent book called “The Founder's Mentality – How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth”.  It’s by Chris Zook and James Allen, two Partners from Bain & Co.  Their decade long, global research found that when companies fail to achieve their growth targets, 90% of the time the root cause is internal, not external.


Embedding (or restoring) a “Founder's Mentality” across the business is key to restoring speed, focus and connection to customers.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to share some soundbites with you:

  • Growth creates complexity and complexity is the silent killer of growth. As you grow, complexity sets in rewarding the masters of internal politics and process.
  • The curse of the matrix: departmental priorities can blur the sense of collective purpose. The notion that there are those who sell and those who support those who sell gets lost in a sea of competing interests.


Beware the Energy Vampires!  They:

  • Schedule lots of meetings and you hate it when they appear in your calendar. (It was estimated in one global organisation that 300,000 hours per annum were spent preparing for the weekly executive meeting!). 
  • Fire off missives that force your people to stop serving the customer and instead respond to yet another information/data request.


As Warren Bennis* put it:

“Troubled organisations tend to be over managed but under led…”

  • You need a clear mission and purpose and a relentless obsession with the front line.
  • The founder mentality creates deep feelings of personal responsibility and emotional engagement.
  • Create a culture of shared obsession with the customer – an “insurgency mentality and front line obsession” – a constant source of competitive advantage.
* Warren Gamaliel Bennis (March 8, 1925 – July 31, 2014) was an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies

Our Own Purpose...

As I reflected on purpose, I also thought back to a superb breakfast event I attended at The Globe Theatre, hosted by Blackbridge Communications (  The talk was on “Bringing Your Vision, Mission and Purpose to Life”.  There was quite a bit of debate around “Purpose” which resonated with me, so I embarked on a journey to establish our own purpose here at Oakleaf Partnership.  On the recommendation of Andrew Fox at HSBC, I watched an excellent presentation given by Simon Sinek (The Three Golden Circles: WHY?  HOW? WHAT?) – it’s on TED Talks and well worth a watch.

I then facilitated an internal Friday afternoon “Innovation Workshop” (in teams, and competitive, obviously!) and, after a lot of hard work, here is our Purpose, which is a blend of the teams’ work:
















I’m incredibly proud of this: it’s “owned” by our people and a totally true reflection of what we aspire to be and do. I hope this reflects in what our clients are saying about us!  You can find out here:  SEPTEMBER CLIENT TESTIMONIALS


A Land Down Under…

Tim Henry, Partner at Peoplecorp in Australia writes:

“It’s hard to believe that just over a year has passed since our inaugural Australian & Kiwi Oakleaf/Peoplecorp event in London. It was great to meet many of you at that time and fantastic to see how the group has grown over this past year.

The clocks have changed here in Sydney, the evenings are getting lighter and summer is well and truly on its way.  We have seen our job numbers continue to increase over the past 12 months and we are coming off the back of our most successful quarter in the company's history.

We'd encourage you to give us plenty of notice if you do have plans to return.  Whilst business is generally good, job searches back in Sydney can often take a bit longer than in London simply due to the size of the market. In the meantime keep in touch with what we are up to by subscribing to our monthly newsletter here -  If you happen to be passing through Sydney over the summer for a visit, we'd love to catch up for a coffee to give you a more detailed overview of the market.”


Drive Forward!!!

On Thursday 13th October 2016, as part of our CSR programme, seven of our consultants volunteered to partner with the Drive Forward Foundation for an afternoon. Jade Sweeney, Senior Consultant with our Reward practice, writes:


“Drive Forward are a truly amazing charity which supports young care leavers to find their way in the world. Our involvement was to encourage the care leavers to get back into the workplace and help them realise their potential. Our contribution was to support with a fun and interactive “HR Speed Dating” event.

This event allowed experienced recruitment consultants at Oakleaf Partnership to offer advice on CV formats, interview techniques, career decisions, advice on how to sell their existing knowledge and skills, and overall help them realise their capability and potential. We got to know the Drive Forward participants, conduct a short speed interview with them and give them feedback/answer any questions they had. The Oakleaf team felt that they were all able to add a lot of value, and thoroughly enjoyed supporting the charity. We saw a genuine change in the candidates’ confidence and employment outlook from then they started the session to when it ended. We felt inspired to continue the relationship with Drive Forward and look forward to the next event.

 I would highly recommend supporting this charity and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get involved.”















And Finally...

I recently attended a client “pitch” for a piece of senior HR search work.  One of the gathered assembled actually said to me:

“But you don’t get fired for buying IBM, do you?”. 



I hope you have enjoyed my latest missive and, as year-end approaches at pace, I am delighted to report a positive sentiment in the HR market, across the majority of sectors and increasing movement which I feel will be sustained into Q1 next year.  What lies beyond is anyone’s guess but I am hoping common sense and logic will win over emotion and sentiment!




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