More small businesses looking to recruit as confidence returns to UK – but employers need to embrace flexibility, says leading HR expert

  • Survey indicates that some 57% of SMEs plan to recruit this year
  • Smaller business employers show concern over flexible working
  • The HR Dept grows alongside its SME clients, adding 10 new offices this year
  • Satisfaction rates with The HR Dept’s service increase to 9.3/10

A nationwide survey of SME employers by employment specialist The HR Dept has found that over half are currently looking to recruit in the next six months, signalling further confidence from the UK’s small businesses that economic growth is being maintained.

The findings from The HR Dept, whose 57 offices provide HR advice and support to thousands of employers across the UK and Ireland, show that almost 56.7% of the 687 businesses who responded to the question on recruitment, expected to grow their workforce in the next six months – up from 48.8 in 2013.

Only a very small percentage (4.7 per cent) of respondents anticipate making further redundancies.

Encouragingly, demand for HR expertise and support in recruitment is also on the increase, with use of The HR Dept’s recruitment services up 15.9 per cent this year, signalling that employers are becoming more anxious to ensure that appointments are successful.

Meanwhile, alongside growing in direct response to the upturn in the UK’s economic fortunes, The HR Dept is also benefitting from increasingly happy clients and winning business on recommendation.  The business scored 9.3 out of 10 for overall satisfaction among survey respondents, up from 9.2 last year.  Over half (56 per cent) awarded 10 out of 10 (up from 50 per cent in 2013) with the company scoring highly on advice, responsiveness and knowledge. Likelihood to recommend the HR Dept remained constant at 9.5 out of 10.

Commenting on the survey findings, Sue Tumelty, Founder and Managing Director of The HR Dept says: “Our survey clearly shows rising confidence in the economy among small employers who are intent on growing their businesses.  It is good to see that those businesses are also investing in the advice and support to help them make the right people choices: certainly there is more caution about ensuring the recruitment strategy is right and investing in appointments wisely.

One issue that came to the fore in this year’s survey was flexible working, available to all employees to request from 30 June, in line with the Government being keen to remove the assumption that flexible working only applies to mothers or carers and make workplaces “fit for the 21st century”.

“We found that 31 per cent of employers who have staff on flexible working arrangements were concerned about extending the option to more workers, whilst 25 per cent of employers with no staff on flexible working were also concerned by the changes in the law.” says Sue Tumelty, Founder and Managing Director of The HR Dept.  “More positively, 22 per cent of employers who don’t have staff on flexible working were unconcerned by the changes and 22 per cent felt it was fairer if all staff could apply for flexible working.

“It is inevitable that these changes – which aren’t binding on employers to provide flexible working as long as there is a sound reason- will cause concern, but we are working hard with the companies that we advise to show how the changes can actually be beneficial if handled correctly. They allow companies to retain skilled, experienced staff who may simply want a change in their hours – and with skills the main concern of all employers at the moment, this has to be a beneficial shift in emphasis.

“With our creative advice and support, we can help employers gain the best of both worlds – motivated staff working to hours that can actually benefit them as much as the employee.”

The online survey of 1523 businesses was carried out by The HR Dept, the UK’s largest outsourced HR company with 57 offices across the UK and Ireland covering 63 territories and supporting thousands of smaller employer clients, as part of its annual customer satisfaction work. The company has expanded by a further 10 UK offices this year,  each run under license by experienced HR professionals, with all offices working as a team.

“We have certainly grown in direct response to the upturn in the UK’s economic fortunes and have seen a change in the types of services clients want us to work with them on, moving from redundancies and restructures to more recruitment and training. We are constantly evolving to meet clients’ needs. “says Sue Tumelty.  “We have also seen a real “like for like” growth in numbers of new clients showing that more and more SMEs are pleased to have an outsourced specialist on hand  to take on the burden of HR – allowing them to get on with running their businesses”


Notes to Editors:

The HR Dept is the UK’s leading outsourced HR company, with 57 offices across the UK and Ireland, 10 of whom have opened in the last 12 months.  It works with thousands of smaller employers – from micro businesses taking on their first member of staff to organisations with several hundred employees – delivering the support and advice that a large organisation would receive from its HR department.

Since 2006, The HR Dept has issued an annual customer satisfaction survey, drawing on the experience of customers to refine its service and helping to understand the aspects of HR with which employers are most concerned.

The survey was carried out among The HR Dept’s clients in Spring 2014, with 726 responses received – a response rate of 48.6 per cent.

Business Development Director Gemma Tumelty will be available for interview on these survey findings from Monday 21 July 2014.

More information  on The HR Dept can be found

Media contacts:

Gemma Tumelty, HR Dept Ltd:  0845 180 1120/07980 003154

Tony Watts, Crackerjac PR: 01454 801144/07738 167788

Jacqui Southway, Crackerjac PR:  01454 801144/07747 804703

Date of issue: 16 July 2014 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Preventing People Problems

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Office Address: CENTRAL OFFICE, The HR Dept. Ltd, First Floor, 3 Brook Office Park, Emersons Green, Bristol, BS16 7FL | VAT Number: GB821928327 | Registration Number: 04479417

Copyright © 2007 - 2019 The HR Dept Ltd. HR DEPT is a registered trademark belonging to The HR Dept Limited.