"Demand for staff reaches 21-month peak" according to the IHS Markit and REC, who have also reported that "temp billings rose at a steeper pace and recorded the strongest rate of growth since March 2015". All very positive to hear for our HR interim market and not surprising given that it typically thrives when there is change and uncertainly; the general election being the latest of course. Here our Oakleaf interim team offer some insight into the recruitment trends we have seen over the last quarter and our expectations for Q2.
The junior Financial Services market has been moving at pace, with plenty of Junior level support roles at the HR Administration/Assistant and Recruitment coordinator level, with fewer opportunities coming up at the £40-50k Advisory level. Asset management, Private Equity and smaller Financial Services businesses are where we are seeing the most movement and there are more fixed term contract opportunities over day rate roles at this level, typically maternity cover and replacement roles rather than it being an increased headcount. Interestingly we have also seen a real openness from clients to consider junior candidates without industry experience – wowing at interview has been the key factor for securing roles for the junior level candidates! There seems to be a shortage of Learning and Development opportunities across Financial and Professional services at all levels, with a lack of opportunities in the market since before Christmas. However, we are seeing an increase in exciting project roles in the regions with Transformation and Change Project based opportunities across insurance businesses. Commerce and Industry businesses saw similar trends across junior level support level hiring, but supported an increased workload across charity, transport & logistics and energy sectors. These roles have tended to start as day rate opportunities with the potential to become a longer-term FTCs. There has also been a high volume of Tech Recruiter roles – particularly around software engineering.
There is lots of positivity across the senior end of the market. Hiring seems quite diverse, with movement across Professional Services clients (accounting and legal firms), and banking and insurance businesses. The usual replacement hires and maternity covers are still coming through but interims are also being used to cover permanent hire notice periods. Hiring for HRBP roles has been more at the lower end – £65k - £75k / £400 - £450 per day across Banking, Asset Management and Wealth management firms. There has been a focus around SMR implementation, with Asset Management and HRBP roles tending to be a hybrid between HR generalist and working with Compliance to roll out SMR, developing Brexit strategies and addressing the HR risk agenda. The global Change/Transformation roles tend to be focused on off-shoring, TUPE and Merger and Acquisition activity within large global matrix environments.
Generalist hiring across Commerce and industry sectors was the quietest area across this space in Q1, with specialist roles across Talent, OD and people development being a big recruitment focus for businesses. Technology, media and FMCG have been busy, with lots of recruitment for new headcount to manage projects, especially around performance management. Organisations are overhauling processes and systems and understanding that standard annual appraisals really aren’t cutting it! The 6-12 month spike in hiring across energy, oil and gas organisations continued and the halt in hiring across the Public Sector has remained throughout Q1. The manufacturing industry also hired interims into their businesses, but with restricted budgets are looking to direct sourcing methods to bring in talent.
Early in Q1 we saw an abundance of systems related roles – with new budgets for the financial year we saw projects to lead on systems implementations, or roles supporting a project lead through various stages of testing or module implementation (Workday has continued to be the system of choice amongst a lot of clients). There was a huge influx of 6 month Reward Analyst roles paying between the £40-55k level, especially within the media and retail sectors, which have been to support ‘business as usual’ activities around salary benchmarking and job grading activity. We have seen an increase in HRMI Analyst roles to support projects around Transformation and Change from a reporting and insight perspective. We have also had some meaty project roles at the senior end of the market, one involving ‘Reward Communication’ and some in the benefits space, which have been to transform organisations benefits offering as well as several Head of Reward and Executive Compensation interim assignments to support permanent hiring processes. Top talent in the mid-level Advisor - £50-65k level continues to be a talent short market with a real lack of top talent being available in the market.
Payroll has seen huge movement across the retail industry and has remained a busy sector recruiting interim payroll support across all levels. Most interim roles across industries have been maternity cover FTCs rather than day rate roles, though the Financial Services industry has seen a rise in business looking for short term cover (3-4 months) at the Senior Payroll Manager level (£350 per day). ADP Freedom experience has been extremely sought after amongst interim candidates, with employers looking to bring in contractors with previous knowledge of this.
Across the Midlands, we are seeing a rise in the number of L&D positions, typically the mid-market £40-60k roles. L&D is often one of the first areas of HR to experience headcount reduction; now that businesses are in a better place financially companies are expanding their L&D functions once again. In the senior end of the market we have been seeing more Head of Level roles with these typically being maternity cover contracts and lots of “gap fill” contracts due to resignations – candidates are becoming more confident and lots of movement in the permanent senior market creating gaps for interims. There is a real shortage of available top talent in the market, especially amongst HRBP’s and career interim HR Advisors, with most immediately available HR Advisors preferring permanent opportunities. Available specialist Reward candidates are also lacking and we are seeing businesses being more open to taking HR generalists with knowledge of reward for pure Reward roles. The senior market also seems to be moving, with more roles on at £60k+ and clients understanding they will need to pay a day rate to secure good candidates and be competitive. In terms of the trends we are seeing across the market, the Apprenticeship Levy is a big one – businesses are creating new roles called ‘apprenticeship consultants’ and are looking to those from an L&D or recruitment background to take on project work around this.
As a whole, we have seen a real growth in the interim market across Q1. Hiring managers are more open to being educated around how they should use interim specialist skills to manage projects and support during permanent hiring, and understand they need to be competitive and act quickly to attract and secure talent. Employers are having to be more flexible when considering candidates for roles and are looking outside of their industry and sector to attract a more diverse and available shortlist for roles. Of course, any uncertainty and change in the political and economic landscape drives interim hiring as a solution for businesses until the future is clearer, so we expect this to continue into Q2 and throughout Brexit negotiations. Having said this, there seems to be more confidence in the permanent market which has driven an increase in the amount of interim support required to plug the gaps in teams. All in all, good news for us at Oakleaf!
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