How to overcome
UK-wide recruitment

Employers around the world are continuing to struggle to fill open roles, and the United Kingdom is no exception, with Bloomberg reporting that almost a fifth of U.K. workers are expecting to leave their current jobs for new ones within the next 12 months — largely in the pursuit of better pay, flexible working conditions, and improved job satisfaction.

This desire for remote and flexible work is disrupting the job market, making it more challenging for employers to attract and retain top talent unless they embrace this new way of working.

We want to help U.K. employers gain a better understanding of the disruptions occurring in the labor market, so we surveyed more than 500 British employers to determine which industries and locations are hit hardest by The Great Resignation, the most difficult skills gaps to fill, and the strategies employers are using to overcome recruitment barriers.

82% of employers have been impacted by The Great Resignation in the past year

We analyzed which U.K. cities had the highest percentage of companies affected by the “great resignation,” and Sheffield, in Yorkshire, ranks in first place. 92% of the Sheffield employers surveyed said The Great Resignation had directly impacted their company.

Sheffield is followed closely by Plymouth and London, with 89% and 87% respectively. 

Although these three cities top the list with the highest proportion of employers facing difficulties due to The Great Resignation, the impacts seem widespread across the country, from Edinburgh in Scotland right down to Plymouth in the southwest of England.

The table below shows the top 10 U.K. cities with the highest percentage of employers affected by The Great Resignation.

Cities with the highest % of companies impacted by The Great Resignation

UK interactive map
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Plymouth, United Kingdom
Plymouth, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Brighton, United Kingdom
Brighton, United Kingdom
Southampton, United Kingdom
Southampton, United Kingdom
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Bristol, United Kingdom
Bristol, United Kingdom
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Sheffield, United Kingdom
RankCity% that said The Great Resignation has impacted their company*
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

92% of employers have struggled to fill job roles in the past year

Partly as a result of The Great Resignation, it has become increasingly challenging for employers attempting to recruit staff to fill internal skills gaps. With demand so high, employees hold the power and are in a strong position to be increasingly selective of which roles they accept. 

Our research found that 92% of U.K. employers have struggled to fill job roles in the past year and have used an average of nine recruiters to try and fill skills gaps within their companies.

The business areas U.K. employers are struggling the most to fill are software engineering, HR, and data analytics.

Companies finding it difficult to attract candidates with these types of specialist skills should reconsider how they can add value through employee benefit schemes and adapt existing packages to meet the demands of the candidates they are targeting. 

The table below shows the business areas or skills that employers have struggled to fill within the past year, ranked from the highest to lowest percentage.

The top 12 skills UK companies are struggling to recruit for

RankBusiness areas/skills% of employers that have struggled to fill roles within these areas in the past year*
1Software engineering27%
3Data analytics24%
4Customer experience23%
5Business operations23%
6Executive leadership23%
9Product management18%
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

The survey also explored which areas specific industries are struggling to recruit for the most. Almost every employer we surveyed in the U.K. logistics industry (96%) told us they’ve struggled to fill a job area in their company in the last year, with fintech businesses struggling to fill HR roles (42%) and healthcare industries struggling with customer experience roles (25%).

Industry% that have struggled to fill any job role (past year)Business area% that have struggled to hire for business area
Healthcare90%Customer experience25%
Logistics96%Data analytics50%
Marketing & Advertising91%Marketing45%
Technology94%Software engineering58%
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

Half of employers offer new training to existing employees to cope with recruitment struggles

Finding and keeping top talent is a fundamental priority for any growth-focused business. Traditionally, employers focus recruitment efforts within countries where they already own a local legal entity. But now, a global employment partner like Remote makes international recruitment so much faster, easier, and safer with employer of record services.

U.K. employers are finding creative solutions to overcome recruitment barriers. Half of the employers we surveyed (50%) are offering training to their existing employees, with more than a third offering referral schemes. 

Just one-third of the employers surveyed are recruiting candidates from further afield to keep recruitment struggles at bay. That means over 60% of the employers surveyed are missing out on the opportunity to cast their recruitment net wider and access an exponentially larger global talent marketplace.

The table below shows the tactics employers are using to overcome recruitment barriers, ranked from most to least popular. 

Ways employers have tried to overcome recruitment struggles% that said The Great Resignation has impacted their company
Offering training to existing employees50%
Offering a referral scheme to current employees35%
Recruiting outside of the city where you are based33%
Offering an apprentice program33%
Hiring external recruitment resource33%
Recruiting internationally33%
Proactively sourcing more diverse candidates33%
Outsourcing work to freelancers and contractors29%
Offering bursaries and scholarships in the underskilled areas26%
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

Hiring internationally can solve recruitment struggles

Hiring internationally to solve recruitment challenges is a strategy used by 33% of the employers we surveyed.

33% of employers recruit internationally to solve recruitment challenges.

The rising popularity of remote work and the technology that makes it possible means employers are now able to find high-quality candidates in all corners of the world. British employers no longer need to restrict themselves to talented professionals based in the U.K.. 

Huge swathes of highly skilled professionals are ready and willing to work remotely across similar time zones to the U.K. in the rest of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Asynchronous work practices can make it productive for U.K. employers to open up their recruitment pipeline to Asia, the Americas and the Pacific – a serious strategic asset for any organization aiming for 24-hour sales or customer support coverage.

However, not all employers are choosing to recruit internationally to ease the impact of The Great Resignation. 8% stated that this is because they don’t sponsor work permits, and a further 8% said they want employees to be able to travel into the office when needed. 

Remember, U.K. employers can still hire internationally and allow their employees to work abroad legally with the help of an employer of record like Remote

If your business operations allow for remote work, you don’t need to offer relocation packages and set up work visas and permits to bring foreign talent to you. Assuming your overseas candidates have the legal right to work in their home country, Remote makes it easy for you to hire and pay these team members in compliance with relevant labor laws through our fully owned local entities.

When recruiting, does your company consider international candidates?%
Yes, because we have a remote working policy40%
Yes, because we work with international clients36%
Yes, but they are offered a wage representative of where they live22%
Yes, but only if they have the right to work where we are based20%
No, because we don't sponsor work permits8%
No, because we want to ensure employees can come into the office when needed8%
No, but it is something we are considering6%
No, because we do not have a remote working policy5%
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

Almost half of employers (46%) are now open to negotiating salaries thanks to recruitment struggles

To remain competitive in today’s job market and fill skills needs, almost half of U.K. employers we surveyed said they’re become more open to negotiating salaries since The Great Resignation began.

There are some other key areas where employers are open to negotiate, including health benefits and annual leave. 

This new willingness to provide a more complete total rewards compensation package could also help retain existing team members and avoid further employee churn.

The table below shows the areas where employers have become more willing to negotiate with employees and candidates since The Great Resignation.

Area of negotiation% that said they have been more open to negotiating in the last year
Flexible working policy49%
Remote working policy46%
Annual leave43%
Training benefits43%
Health benefits42%
Home office allowance40%
*Figures rounded to the nearest %.

Unsurprisingly, remote working policy is one key area businesses are willing to consider, as this style of working has seen a huge uplift since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many industries and businesses, flexible working hours are already fully implemented into permanent working policy.

How can employers attract high-quality talent to fill the skills gaps?

Filling skills gaps with experienced employees and retaining existing talent can be challenging at any time, but it’s even more difficult when the job market is becoming more competitive.
So, where should employers start when seeking to attract the talent they need?

Be transparent with job advert specifications

Transparency is crucial for everyone involved in the recruitment process, especially prospective applicants. Unclear or inaccessible listings can cause confusion and deter candidates from applying.

It’s always best to lay out the responsibilities of the role in clear terms, including the level of experience required, any specific skills needed, and the reporting structure within the company. Instead of listing the salary as ‘competitive’, we would advise employers to clearly state a band of the salary being offered.

Our research found that 41% of employers don’t always put salary information on their job descriptions for every role and close to 50% don’t mention progression opportunities for each role.

In addition, employers can help their job ads stand out from competitors by outlining key benefits and perks for the employee. Even values-based benefits like flexible working hours, remote work provisions, and mental health support programs can separate your offer.

Employers Lack Transparency in Job Adverts

41% of employers don’t always put salary information on job descriptions for every role

47% of employers don’t mention progression opportunities for each role
Inaccessible language can cause confusion and deter candidates from applying

Evaluate existing benefits plans

One of the most important factors that candidates consider when applying for new roles is the benefits plan offered, and how much value it can add to their lives. If you choose to recruit internationally, these benefits must be relevant to the country the employee is based in.

We suggest that employers craft unique benefits packages tailored to the wants and needs of their workforce, taking into account geographical factors, differences in demographics and other influences.

In addition to benefits plans, employers should regularly review salaries to ensure they are always offering fair, competitive pay. Our survey revealed that 17% of UK employers don’t do salary benchmarking at all, however, the 80% that do, review this once every five months on average.

Download your 
Global Benefits Guide and attract top global talent

Remote's global HR experts share practical advice for building a locally relevant and globally compliant benefits program to help you attract and keep the world's best talent.

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Reconsider return to office policies

Employers who are still requiring their staff to visit the office regularly may wish to reconsider this strict stance. With remote work now a firm staple in many people’s working lives, those who benefit from the added flexibility it brings are unlikely to be willing to give it up - especially when there are other employers who are happy to allow remote working indefinitely, with no caveats.

Adopt inclusive hiring practices

Not only is exercising inclusive hiring practices the ethical way to operate, but it also stops employers from excluding portions of the talent pool who come from diverse backgrounds.

As a starting point, we suggest educating your recruitment team on how internal biases can affect the hiring process, including overt and unconscious bias, and also reviewing your live job adverts to ensure inclusive language is used.

Our research suggests that in order to plug skills gaps, employers need to take an employee-centric approach to recruiting for 2022 and beyond, adjusting their recruitment and retention strategies to demonstrate the value they can add to the lives of existing and potential candidates. This might include offering personalized training plans to help existing staff develop their skill sets, hiring internationally to access a wider pool of talent, or offering flexible working policies to suit the lifestyles of more diverse applicants, such as people with childcare responsibilities. 

To make it easier for employers to fill open roles, we have compiled specialist advice from Remote’s experts and employment professionals for every step of the remote hiring process — from checking your remote readiness to making offers and scaling your global team. Our guide to hiring remote employees includes practical tactics and strategies to help employers fill skills gaps with internationally sourced talent.