It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead.
It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.
Here we speak to Mandy Watson, Founder and Co-Director of Ambitions Personnel.
2020 has been a challenging year. I don’t think that is an understatement, and I don’t believe that it will be a year easily forgotten in the minds of many.
Looking to the future, 2021 will likely be another turbulent year. We’re still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and although the end is in sight, there will be more hardships before we can all get back to living our lives the way that we want to. It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, and many businesses are looking to make next year one to remember for the right reasons.
We have seen many changes in the way people work in 2020. The shift to remote working was on an unprecedented scale, but will it become the norm? We’ve seen headlines suggesting that remote working could be here to stay, but also suggestions that those who work from home could be paid less than their office-based peers. It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds for remote work, but it’s certainly something that we should keep a keen eye on in 2021. Some will still want the working environment an office provides, others will want a flexible arrangement.
Some businesses continued operating well through what could have been an incredibly disruptive time. Those that were able to maintain a good level of productivity and customer service have performed well over this period, but what does that say for those who have struggled?
Next year, we can expect to see a widening gap between those who provide excellent customer service and those who don’t. There will be repercussions for those businesses who fail to put the customer first, and those that do will reap the rewards. 2020 saw a trend towards businesses who are more customer-centric, and we can certainly expect to see that trend continue into next year.
Another trend we can expect to see continue is the ever-growing rise of automation in almost every industry. For recruiters, more automation is needed, as there are still precious hours wasted on administrative tasks that could be easily automated. In this industry, where time is at an absolute premium, the more hours that can be spent doing productive work and finding placements for candidates, the better.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see automation replace the human elements of recruitment or the entirety of other industries, nor should it. The candidate experience should always be warm and welcoming, not cold and clinical. It is a balance that the industry will have to find, but we welcome it all the same.
There is a sense of optimism for the post-covid economic recovery. It will likely take years to recover the losses suffered over the last few months, but there is always recovery after a recession. The same applies for recruitment, and while we have seen historic unemployment since this pandemic began, we can be confident that there will be a recovery.
Recruiters can expect a steady influx of work as businesses begin to hire again while the economy recovers and grows. Job seekers who have perhaps struggled during this pandemic will see the number of vacancies slowly rise, and we can expect it to be a busy time again for hiring managers and HR. We’re all looking forward to those days when they arrive.
Of course, there is one lingering cloud of uncertainty on our horizon – Brexit. For recruiters who work with foreign workers, there will be struggles ahead as immigration and employment laws change. Businesses that have failed to prepare for Brexit, despite the many and varied campaigns to encourage them to do so, will struggle. Agricultural companies that rely on seasonal workers from the EU to pick the harvest will likely struggle the most, as will those families who used to rely on that sort of work every year. It’s worth remembering that workers in the EU are affected just as much as those businesses in the UK.
Every sector will be impacted by the UK’s break from the European Union; some are suggesting that the impact will be a short, sharp shock. Others say that we should prepare for years of complications and changes. Of course, there are the optimists who believe that everything will be fine and that the UK will prosper, but only time will tell which holds up to be accurate. We have to be prepared for any eventuality.
There is one thing for sure, and that is that 2021 will be a year that changes the UK and its recruitment industry in a big way. We’re looking forward to the challenges it will bring, and also life getting back to normal hopefully very soon.