Posted by: Simon Hunt

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Oakleaf Partnership Market Insight – Increasing Momentum in the Commerce & Industry, Not for Profit and UK Wide sectors

In Oakleaf's first HR job market report of 2021 I shared a sense of optimism and hope given the early signal indicators we had experienced across the breadth of Oakleaf's service lines. Now in the continued face of Covid exhaustion and the new syndrome they are calling “parental fatigue”, there is a real sense of excitement keeping us energised and oh boy do we need it! I am delighted to say that that hope is being being backed up with some brilliant data. Oakleaf are now up 30% in new jobs since the start of January, jobs across the HR profession are increasing at their fastest rate in more than 12 months and there are some fantastic HR opportunities out there at all levels and in all areas of the HR function.

(Source: Vacancysoft)

There seems to be a little reticence in some of the more junior markets where candidates are hesitating about whether now is the right time to move. This of course is understandable. We are getting some great opportunities with outstanding organisations who are in growth mode, resilient to the current economic climate and moving to these organisations realistically presents little risk, so I would urge individuals to certainly be open to considering greater levels of due diligence when considering moves.

The Oakleaf team (with the help of Nina Berezowski /Avenue B coaching) have kicked off the new year with an internal programme called “Putting the WE into Wellbeing” in an effort to support our staff with the challenges we all face currently. It is a 9 week programme that has got off to a flying start and we have had some great feedback and learns from it already. We understand we might be slightly late to the table with this, equally there seem to be quite a few companies that have not yet responded either – it is certainly still relevant and if your organisations have not done something then I would urge you to do so – it is not too late!

In this Insight, we hear from Amy Morris giving us insight into our broader commerce and not for profit sectors and Rebecca Lancelles-Foskett providing insight into the wider UK market…

Commerce & Industry and Not for Profit Insight

Amy Morris Profile Image

As I write this, we are in the middle of Storm Darcy, with travel warnings flashing across our news updates…at least its not COVID? Over the last 3 months we have seen a new president take office, it would be remiss of me not to mention the world first female vice president, lock down 3.0, home schooling V2 and of course the huge excitement of vaccines being given across the UK and world. As a world we certainty have seen a lot of change!

On a microlevel this has been reflected in the Commerce and Industry and Not for Profit teams at OP. We have seen an injection of energy in the market, with clients becoming more confident in making change happen. Whilst this is showing in different ways in our senior / mid markets there is undoubtedly a shift in appetite to hire new talent.

(Source: Vacancysoft)

Our senior market has seen a surge in Talent, Learning, Organisational Development, ED&I and M&A opportunities. A turbulent 2020 has increased the desire to invest both in their business streams and their people. Whilst we are yet to see a big uptake in organizational design roles in our private sector clients, the Not for Profit sector, particular Education and Membership bodies are starting to hire these skills as they realign their services to fit the ‘new world.’ The generalist/HRBP roles that we are seeing are typically in start up or growth organizations. If Covid has done anything for the HR market it has completely exposed the need to have HR as part of the commercial senior team steering the business through change.

Our mid markets have seen a real growth in the £40,000 - £55,000 bracket. These roles have mainly been generalist although this is where we have seen the highest volume of recruiter roles. Whilst it’s not uncommon for this level to be focused on execution we have seen an increase in project or standalone experience being requested. There has been a shift in this market however, whilst the confidence has increased across our client population, candidates are still nervous of looking. We are making most of our placements and success here from the passive market.

Unfortunately, our consumer clients are still finding this market tough. Whilst there are undoubtedly some green shoots coming through with the larger retailers building talent pools for the future and some exciting M&A activity, our non-food related high street clients have certainly had to get creative! Charities have followed a similar struggle with funding being harder and harder to obtain. We are feeling the impact with less permanent roles on the market and more FTC opportunities, giving more flexibility as the year progresses.

In contrast to this it feels like our TMT and Industry and Science markets are stepping out into recovery mode. Funding across the Technology and Digital space is growing with some organisations, particularly those focused on remote working, reaping the rewards of the new environment we are in. Engineering, particularly those with a global footprint, are back up and running with a real enthusiasm to shift the dial on their people processes. It has been refreshing being able to speak to them about ED&I, Wellbeing, Talent and Culture.

For more insight into the Commerce and Industry HR market, please contact Amy Morris


UK Wide Insight

Midlands and North

In the three months since my last nationwide market update, some might say that not much has changed as we continue to be in a national lockdown, however I disagree, much has changed! Never before have we really understood the true meaning of “resilience”.

Parents continue to juggle careers and home schooling, people continue to change their home lives to accommodate being inside 24/7 and are adapting to continuous change in their organisations and their jobs. Much has moved forward since March 2020 and we are seeing this every day when speaking to HR professionals across the UK. HR teams are under a huge amount of pressure to set new HR plans for the new financial year, to retain top talent and look after the wellbeing of their employees which is a huge undertaking when in lockdown and in a state of limbo.


(Source: Vacancysoft)

Our Regions business has seen a steady increase in permanent opportunities across our key hubs – Birmingham, Manchester, Reading and Northampton. There has been an appetite for strategic HR Business Partners, Employee Relations and Senior Shared Services professionals. HR Operations and Shared Services have been interesting areas to recruit in. Organisations are looking to improve and build capability across their operations and delivery functions, primarily payroll and benefits. With the majority of people working at home, businesses are seeking new and creative ways to incentivise their staff. This has been centred around pay and benefits. I think we will continue to see this trend through the coming months as organisations place increasing emphasis on their systems and internal structures to accommodate these new ways of working.

A growing trend we are keeping a close eye on as we move out of lockdowns and high infection rates is the move to hire in multiple locations. 40% of the roles across our regional business can be based in multiple cities such as London, Birmingham, Reading, Bristol, Manchester or Leeds. This is fantastic to see as a nationwide business, as it opens up talent pools, allows candidates to cut back on commuting times and brings new appetite to different geographies across the UK. More candidates are relocating to be closer to family members or wanting more space. The variety of roles in different parts of the UK is allowing this to happen. Let’s see if this trend continues as we start to see a light to life after lockdown.

If you would like to speak to us more on market trends or permanent / interim opportunities across the Midlands and North, please get in touch with Rebecca Lancelles-Foskett


Thames Valley and South West

Zoe Bradley

Despite the current situation we find ourselves in, markets in the Thames Valley and South West remain pretty resilient. We are seeing a steady increase in the number of Senior HR Director posts, particularly in the pharmaceuticals sector. The more specialist payroll and reward roles remain in high demand with an increase of opportunities in the past few weeks. Many technology and pharmaceutical organisations are predicting ambitious growth over the next two years and have secured private equity backing. Across our key hubs in the Thames Valley and South West regions, we are seeing an uplift in the number of candidates who want to relocate, live outside of London and ideally work outside of the city too.  More HR professionals are wanting to drive to work and will consider other locations over travelling into Central London which is a significant move from 18 months ago.

Leading Berkshire employers such as Microsoft, Vodafone and GSK are still recruiting. Salaries for roles remain competitive although there has been a decline in the number of interim and temporary vacancies in comparison to November last year. The competition for roles on a permanent and interim basis is fierce and to attract and retain excellent talent remains a constant challenge. Many HR professionals are being asked to attract top talent to their businesses but with tight or limited budget and this is proving to be very difficult when hiring in Reward and Payroll especially.

If you would like to speak further to our lead consultant in the Thames Valley area please get in touch with Zoe

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The Commerce and Industry team at Oakleaf seem to have experienced a tale of two halves.

Simon Hunt, Amy Morris and Rebecca Lancelles-Foskett review the broader Commerce & Industry and UK wide HR markets since September.

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