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News & Views

Business confidence grows

Despite the current macroeconomic environment, 78% of UK business leaders are ‘somewhat to very confident’ about their growth prospects going into the first half of 2021, according to latest research C-suite research from specialist recruiter Robert Half (

The research, collected across six key international markets, found that growth sentiment is highest in Brazil (88%), followed by France and the UK (78%), Australia (77%), Germany (72%), and Belgium (69%).

Almost a quarter of companies surveyed (23%) say they are actually expanding their workforce and actively adding new positions, while only 8% of companies say they intend to freeze headcounts entirely, and an even smaller proportion (3%) plan on reducing workforce numbers during the first half of 2021.

“Our latest employment market data suggests a mixed commercial picture at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic cycle. The global shift to remote and hybrid working, as well as the pivot towards online and e-commerce revenue generation and data-driven operational and planning processes, are all influencing the hiring intentions and priorities that Robert Half is seeing at the start of the New Year,” says Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half.

“Early indications are that 2021 is going to be a year of recovery and rebuilding for both companies and individual workers alike.  As such, business agility, adaptability, risk management and forward planning propensities continue to be top priorities for many companies. These same attributes are also likely to be hallmarks of the evolving future of work in the longer term.”

Perhaps surprisingly given the impact of COVID-19 at present, the general economic climate (36%) and expanding business opportunities (34%) were cited amongst the top influences on 2021 growth prospects, in addition to the pace of digitization and adoption of new technologies (30%).

“During what remains a volatile business environment in which change remains the only constant, many companies are struggling to find the talent they need to support new business priorities sparked by the pandemic,” continues Weston.  “Professionals with in-demand skills know they still have options and employers must offer competitive salaries and benefits to retain key personnel, as well as attract and secure top candidates during this calendar year – and beyond.”

In the survey, manufacturing, logistics and pharmaceuticals were cited as the top sectors currently driving demand for new hires in the UK, followed by financial services, and IT services.
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