Brands ramp up recruitment plans but ‘roadblocks’ remain

Brands are returning to the recruitment market, but skills shortages and inflationary wage demands are holding up the traffic.

Brands are showing increasingly robust recruitment plans, building on renewed confidence revealed in the final quarter of 2022.

According to IPA Bellwether data gathered exclusively for Marketing Week, a net balance of 16.7% of companies expect to increase employment levels over the next three months. The figures represent the first quarter of 2023 and show an increase from a net balance of 13.6% in the previous quarter.

Nearly a third (32.2%) of companies predict a growing workforce in the near future, compared to 15.7% that expect a cut in staff numbers. The figures represent the most positive outlook for employment growth in the last year.

How can marketers handle the ‘inherent tensions’ in recruitment?

Following staff shortages and recruitment challenges in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, companies have maintained a “resilient” attitude to recruitment – despite a tight labour market and inflationary pressure on pay – says the IPA.

The renewed confidence shown by the latest figures suggests pressures may be easing, though respondents to the IPA Bellwether report cite skills shortages and wage demands as possible “roadblocks” to hiring.

The trend is reflected in wider figures. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows around 220,000 more people were seeking work in the UK in the three months to the end of February than in the three months before. The figures appear to represent more people returning to the jobs market, possibly driven by cost of living challenges and by strong demand from employers.

While confidence to recruit is increasing, it is still at an historically low level. A year ago, in the first quarter of 2022, a net balance of 31.6% of companies expected to increase employee numbers, while the number expecting payrolls to fall was just 7.1%.

“The latest results signal the best outlook for employment growth since Q2 2022,” says the IPA Bellwether report.