The Great Resignation – fact or fiction?

We really did hear it all last year.

From headlines suggesting “More people than EVER moving jobs!” to others telling us “Vacancies grow as employees stand firm!” it’s difficult to know what to believe.

So, what is happening in the recruitment world this 2022? Are we seeing mass people movement across sectors? Or are workers staying glued to the spot in case the pandemic takes hold again (perhaps for other reasons – dare we suggest they might actually enjoy what they do)?

Today, we’re taking a closer look at what is really happening in job land!

The Facts

They’re calling it the Great Resignation. It’s true, 2021 saw large numbers quitting their jobs – a record-breaking 4.5million people by November, according to a Guardian report. But what do the figures actually tell us about the employment situation and can we expect the same this year? And if people are moving on mass, why?

In an ongoing time of uncertainty, people look for stability wherever possible. While many might assume this is reason enough to stay in their current role, it all depends on that role. If you’re a full-time corporate worker expected at a desk between business core hours, juggling work and school closure-driven childcare, then perhaps it’s no wonder you fancy a sea change to a role more flexible. And that’s before we consider the millions of workers in retail, hospitality and leisure whose sectors were the worst hit during the pandemic – sure enough, we can forgive these folks for wanting to escape the sinking ship.

When you appreciate WHO is moving, it starts to make sense.

Check the data, and it certainly appears that resignations have skyrocketed in hospitality, leisure, and retail. We already know that businesses in these sectors struggled to survive pressure caused by the pandemic, with many going bust in 2020 and others left on tenterhooks after more lockdowns in 2021. Surely, where workers are sensing the writing on the wall, they help protect themselves by moving on before being forced to do so. Indeed, some will doubtless have grown so tired of the ‘on and off’ switch since March 2020 – working one minute and locked down the next – perhaps it was finally time to seek a new horizon beyond their sector.

Then, of course, there is healthcare. A sector with a workforce completely exhausted – or worse, unable to attend work thanks to testing positive frequently and isolating. Surely, even the hardiest and dedicated of workers must be thinking they’ve had enough. The figures would certainly agree. Although the dip last year does seem to be closing somewhat.

Resignations, yes. But not out of work.

One thing that’s hard to escape, pandemic or otherwise, and that’s the monthly bills. Unless you’ve a stash of cash somewhere – which isn’t that many of us – employment remains critical, and resigning from your job is seldom to sit and do nothing.

So, where are our masses of resigned types headed to? Suppose you’ve just left a struggling sector. In that case, it’s likely you’ve gone somewhere entirely new – unless you’ve found yourself a competitor willing to pay you slightly more (and even so, it still leaves you in a position somewhat precarious).

Just as some sectors have dipped, others have grown and given rise to new roles to fill for those out of work. Manufacturing and logistics are taking on more staff than ever to support the growth in online retail. IT services companies continue to expand, needing more staff to fulfil roles both technical and administrative – and while the former warrants specific skills, the latter requires less formal training, something ex-hospitality workers with customer service experience might suit.

Then there are those looking for something altogether different called ‘self-employment’. Because, as we have seen throughout the pandemic, some businesses forced into change have seen better results than beforehand, encouraging some PAYE workers to walk away from so-called stability towards entrepreneurial life. And why not? If it’s flexibility you’re wanting, you’ll certainly have it on tap by running your own show!

What can HR do to reduce movement?

If you’re tasked with keeping your workforce content, talk of mass resignation will worry you. As most HR professionals know, retention is key to stability and keeping recruitment costs down. Losing one staff member may well cause a ripple effect, with more following suit putting incredible pressure on those remaining and causing headaches for hiring managers too.

Nowadays, a wage alone is not enough to keep people happy in a job. Sure, financial stability matters, but other factors are creeping up the list of employee must-haves. If you’re going to retain your staff this year (and beyond), then you need to build a strategy to accommodate those needs – including the following fundamentals:


No doubt about it, flexible working is having a field day. Finally! While some corporate companies cottoned onto it years ago, it has become more prominent thanks to Covid and rules around social distancing. But it goes beyond corporate into all sectors, and if you want to impress your workforce, flexible working is key. Adapting quickly to the pandemic – not to mention the sacrifices made – says we can and will remain productive even when working flexibly, and you’ll get more out of your workforce by meeting them half-way.


Your staff deserve to feel valued and it starts with their development.

It might well have dropped off the radar because of the pandemic, but ongoing training is essential from new starts to seasoned veterans. Assess your entire team for skills relevant to their role; if any are lacking, arrange training to bridge the gap. Make sure you have a visible, long-term training strategy that covers each role company-wide so your teams know what to expect and when. By demonstrating your commitment to their development, you are more likely to receive their commitment in return.


It’s time to face it; your people are tired – in some cases, exhausted. Covid has caused fatigue across the nation to a degree we’re only really appreciating now, and employers have to take this seriously if they want to optimise workplace wellbeing.

We mean more than a massage on the company (however well your staff might receive this!). Wellbeing needs to become a part of who you are through a wellness strategy. This can include drop-in sessions covering mindfulness techniques, work-based fitness classes or support towards gym membership, and designated times for breaks. Also, swap unhealthy snacks for fresh fruit bowls and make sure water stations are plentiful.

Assign a leader as your wellbeing officer to ensure team members stay well.

Benefits to your staff are ten-fold – and for your company, it’s a happier, healthier productive workforce, day in and day out. Care for your individuals, and they’re less likely to leave!

In need of some HR advice? Wherever you are in the UK, you can arrange a chat with one of our friendly professional HR advisors at any time.

Call us on 0330 0881857 or email enquiries@optimal-hr.co.uk

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In!

The new ‘Digital right to work check’ – everything you need to know

The process of running essential pre-employment checks is all set to become much quicker and simpler this year, with the launch of the digital right to work (RTW) check.

From April 6th, 2022, UK businesses can access the online system to assess whether their prospective recruits have the correct credentials to work in the UK.

It follows a campaign led by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) to make digital assessment the default process over the pre-Covid method, which involved physically handling a candidate’s documents to ascertain their work validity.

 Out with the old, in with the new

When the Covid pandemic took hold, digital means for checking an employee’s right to work quickly replaced the original method for gathering and analysing physical documents. Initially, this was considered only a temporary measure, yet when the virus showed no sign of moving on, the REC pushed the case to make it a permanent fixture.

And with the growth in hybrid and work-from-home models gaining pace throughout the pandemic, with more staff than ever before working remotely, the system could not have arrived at a better time.

This will appear a positive leap forward for many professionals working in recruitment with the system tipped to reduce the time and cost of hiring significantly. Indeed, when many have raised their concerns about the current difficulty in hiring – the complexities of a reduced talent pool due to Brexit and the current reluctance of workers to move jobs – anything to help improve the hiring process is bound to be well received.

Progress comes at a price

It is not without criticism, of course, with some commercial business owners concerned about the ongoing cost of implementing and using the system. When many already feel stretched by the impact of the pandemic, too – plus the inflation and National Insurance – and having to fund new technology is a bitter pill to swallow.

It is a point heard in full by the REC, who has stressed the cruciality of making the system accessible to all manner of companies – not only large entities – and kept at the same low price-point for everyone. Hopefully, the hundreds of thousands of checks made each day in the UK are sufficient to warrant its costs keeping to a minimum.

More than likely, the many smaller firms who use a temporary workforce over permanent recruits will benefit from the time saved processing documents digitally over physically, justifying the system’s initial outlay.

The system will apply to checks on UK citizens only, and employers will have the freedom to use various online resources to assess applicants currently based overseas.

You can read more about this story on the REC website

In need of some HR advice? Wherever you are in the UK, you can arrange a chat with one of our friendly professional HR advisors at any time.

Call us on 0330 0881857 or email enquiries@optimal-hr.co.uk

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In!

The Do’s And Don’ts On Withdrawing An Offer Of Work

Ahh. The relief when you’re recruiting and you finally have that ‘YES!’ feeling about a candidate – particularly when you’ve been trying to fill the vacancy for some time and constantly coming up with square pegs for a round hole.

Yet, before you go rushing toward the paperwork preparation – or even provide a verbal offer to the candidate – it’s time to stop for a second. There are several things to consider before you hand over an employment contract; at least, if you’re wanting to ensure the hiring process runs smoothly with both parties – employer and employee – clear on the expectations moving forward.

Our HR specialists are often asked about the protocol when making an offer of employment and whether it can later be withdrawn. The answer is simple: it depends on how your offer was structured in the first place. Time for a reminder, then, of the key considerations when you’re hiring someone new into your organisation and best practice for a written offer of employment.

Conditional work offers

This type of offer is exactly as it sounds: an offer, but with some conditions attached. It’s more than fair to provide a conditional offer to your new employee, and we would encourage that this becomes standard to your hiring process. Here are a few conditions to consider including along with your offer of employment:

References – it is very much expected for a recruit to provide two references – at least one from a former employer – before you take them on, giving you confirmation they are who they say they are and have the skills necessary to fulfil the role on offer. A personal reference is also useful when it comes to accessing a candidate’s character.

DBS checks – if the position involves working with vulnerable or younger people then this type of tick in a box is often compulsory to the role, and something you have likely already checked during the early stages of the recruitment process. Still, it is a good idea to include it as part of your final stage checks in case you need a backup.

Medical checks – does your vacancy warrant a level of fitness to perform the role effectively? Or, is the role a senior one within the company? Either way, you might want to consider including medical checks as a condition to prevent hiring someone physically or mentally unable to fulfil the role’s tasks.

Proof of qualifications – this is fundamental to many positions, particularly where you are hiring for a senior or mid-entry level role where often the expectation and salary are based on the skills and experience a candidate brings to the table.

Proof of right to work – people applying for work in the UK should be in the correct legal position to do so, which means having British citizenship or a visa allowing them to reside and work in the UK (since Brexit, which took effect on January 1, 2021, the latter now applies to any new EU citizens arriving into the UK to work).

Unconditional work offers

If you made an offer without conditions then you are still entitled to withdraw your offer but only before your new hire has accepted the contract.

Once an offer of employment is accepted, your proposed hire can claim ‘breach of contract’ if you later withdraw. A claim can include their seeking losses incurred for resigning from their current role, with damages or compensation to match your company’s standard notice period (typically, at least one month’s pay – three months for senior roles). Depending on the reason you give for the withdrawal, a candidate may also look to seek compensation based on discrimination if they feel inequality has come into play.

It’s best not to leave things to chance when recruiting new hires. Make sure all parties know where they stand from the outset to avoid a potentially sticky situation later on.

In need of some HR advice? Wherever you are in the UK, you can arrange a chat with one of our friendly professional HR advisors at any time.

Call us on 0330 0881857 or email enquiries@optimal-hr.co.uk

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In!

Recruiting in the Health & Social Care sector: the ‘must-know’ fundamentals


There is nothing like a global pandemic to create employee churn. Unfortunately, in many cases since March 2020, this has been less a personal decision to move on and more an industry downturn causing mass redundancy. Yet as some sectors have had little choice but to take a rest for now – tourism clearly at the front of the pack here – others have seen a sharp rise in recruitment during COVID 19, the healthcare industry among them.

It’s no surprise demand in health & social care has risen significantly, with patient numbers increasing in public and private hospitals, health centres and care homes. Health & Social care providers are having to up their recruitment game, not only to hire more medical staff but to fill administrative vacancies too. It’s a field where many who’ve found themselves out of work since the pandemic took hold are now seeking employment – yes, to find another job and also, one they feel plays a part in the national effort to fight COVID.

Now, anyone who’s new to the health & social care sector might think it’s a simple transition to make from, say, a city-based office reception role into one within a doctor’s surgery or hospital. While many of the required practical skills are the same, the process for hiring is much more stringent. It’s why many organisations – including the UK’s largest health care employer, the NHS – use specialist recruiters to attract new talent and fill vacancies, from surgeons to support staff, removing the headache of having to manage the process themselves.

Whether you’re a health or social care organisation looking to recruit in 2021, or an individual looking to begin your career in this sector, here are your ‘must-knows’ – from the HR advisors in the know!

Disclosure and Barring Service – or, DBS

Background checks are essential when recruiting for health & social care vacancies – and not just for those professionals who’ll be managing patients directly. Anyone in the sector not tasked with administering patient care, such as a surgery receptionist, still requires a DBS certificate due to their coming into regular contact with patients and their data. There are several types available – Basic, Standard and Enhanced – with the correct one per role dependent on its responsibilities and proximity to patients. While you can acquire a Basic DBS online, both the Standard and Enhanced DBS certificates come through a specialist who understands the process and correct certification in each circumstance. It is the responsibility of an authorised DBS certificate provider to remain knowledgeable on the specific DBS requirements to the healthcare industry so that you don’t have to.

Mandatory eLearning for Health & Social care Workers

Over the years, it has become apparent a collection of skills is necessary across the health & social care landscape, regardless of the setting – from dental surgeries to private practices. In 2020, the Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF) was developed by Skills for Health UK to ensure a unified approach to training within the healthcare sector. It provides health & social care workers with 11 e-Assessments covering topics viewed as mandatory to the industry, regardless of role, providing a consistent knowledge base across the industry while improving inter-sector mobility. Mandatory eLearning topics include:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Equality, diversity and human rights
  • Fire safety
  • Health, safety and welfare
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Information governance and data security
  • Moving and handing
  • Preventing radicalisation
  • Resuscitation
  • Safeguarding adults
  • Safeguarding children

All mandatory courses are obtained through an authorised HR specialist to ensure a level playing field regarding the course content, delivery and testing. Coursework and exams are delivered and taken online, and each one CPD-accredited for consistency.

You can see this a multi-step approach to recruiting, with many boxes to tick before you can even begin the interview stage! It’s no wonder health & social care organisations turn to outsourced HR advisors for their people-hiring to make things simple, taking care of everything from CV handling to pre-screening of applicants, and supporting with the certification process.

When you’re next recruiting staff into your health or social care organisation, arrange a chat with one of our team at Optimal for some professional, independent HR advice.

In need of some HR advice? Wherever you are in the UK, you can arrange a chat with one of our friendly professional HR advisors at any time.

Call us on 01422 897152 or email enquiries@optimal-hr.co.uk

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In!

Is a poor recruitment process damaging your brand?

Research into the experiences of job seekers has shown the damage that can be caused to a brand by negative processes such as failing to give feedback and not acknowledging receiving an application.

Reed UK found major discrepancies between the expectations of candidates and how companies had been handling the recruitment process. 69% of applicants expected feedback if they were unsuccessful and only 8% reported consistently receiving feedback. More shockingly, 35% said they had rarely or never received any comment or feedback on their application.

The damage this could do to a brand becomes evident on Reed’s next finding. 73% of job seekers said they would be less likely to use the products or services of a company which had given them a poor experience. In younger candidates, 50% said they would even share a negative experience with others.

Three-quarters of job seekers expected to receive a simple confirmation that their application had been received, with this number rising to 84% for higher earning candidates. In the digital age we live in, 39% said they expected to receive confirmation within 24 hours.

Mel Stead, Managing Director of Optimal PBS Recruitment, said “This is only bad news for brands who fail to meet the simplest of expectations. With a vast majority of people saying they would be less likely to use a company after having a bad experience in the recruitment process, it is clear the damage this could do to a company of any size. This highlights the importance of businesses having a great hiring process, whether they do it internally or externally.”

To speak to Mel Stead about how improving the hiring process can help your business, please call her on 07764 244 813 or email mel@optimal-hr.co.uk

Recruitment trends through the seasons

To get hired, you want to think like a recruiter and figure out when demand for new hires is at its greatest. It’s easiest to think of hiring in seasons…

The new year is always a busy time for recruiting, largely due to new budgets starting. During winter your staff are less likely to take time off as they’re just coming out of the Christmas and New Year break. This can have the benefit of speeding up the hiring process as well.

At the executive level, January through to June is a great time for recruiting. While hiring at these higher levels can happen at any time, senior job searches have seasons where things become more active, and January through to June is this time for senior roles.

In the Spring, recruiters tend to hunt out the next round of university graduates. Companies will start looking for these people in the Spring to ensure all roles have been fulfilled by early June.

In the hottest months, you can actually expect a slowdown with more people taking annual leave for holidays and some offices shifting to a more relaxed schedule.

This doesn’t mean you should never look for a job change in the summer and instead means you can simply expect that it will move at a slower pace. With recruiters Summer holidays and more relaxed work schedules, job searches can tend to drag on, especially with high level roles that require several people in an organisation to conduct interviews.

Once the leaves start to fall, recruitment and hiring picks up again to fill any vacant roles before the next Christmas and New Year break rolls around. As we said at the start, it is not uncommon for people to recruit in this time to use up budgets before they run out.

For many roles there are equal opportunities for recruitment twelve months of the year but some fields naturally see more movement at certain times of the year.

Recruiting through Brexit

With Brexit on hold as a result of the general election scheduled for this week, we take a moment to look at how it could affect the recruitment industry.

Lowered interest from Europe

Since the referendum result in 2017, overseas talent has displayed a diminished interest in working in the UK. As the negotiations have gone on, recruiters have reported less interest from international candidates seeking jobs in the UK. Recruiters surveyed by LinkedIn said they are seeing a decrease of 37% from Italy, 35% from France, 35% from Germany, 32% from the Netherlands, 29% from Spain and 33% from other countries in the EU 27 during Q1 2018.

Upskilling UK employees

While Britain’s’ time in the EU has resulted in talent coming to us from across the EU, the loss of these workers could increase internal training opportunities. To tackle the potential skills’ gap, almost half of British companies surveyed said they would train and upskill existing employees to fill gaps in their workforce. This would see salaries of these employees increasing and ultimately improve their job security for the future.

Future workers’ rights

It is understood that existing EU legislation relating to workers’ rights will be converted into British law to ensure the legislation remains the same after Britain leaves the EU. It is however expected overtime that these rights will be altered but to what extent depends on many factors, not least which party is in power. In the short-term it is unlikely any party would want to alter the rights of workers by repealing any of the more popular EU directives.

Post Brexit optimism

While the Brexit deal and ultimately if Brexit will even happen remains uncertain, Optimal PBS Recruitment has seen no shortage of new jobs and many companies looking to expand their workforce since the vote to leave. At this point it is fair to say the outlook can change radically from day to day, the recruitment industry’s overall view remains positive with 71% of talent professionals feeling ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident about their ability to recruit the right talent at this time.

To discuss how Brexit could affect your business, contact Optimal PBS Recruitment today by calling 01422 897 673 or emailing recruitment@optimal-hr.co.uk

Are your gaming skills on your CV?

Are your gaming skills transferable?  One start-up believes these skills are completely transferable to the workplace.

It would seem unthinkable to many to tell a prospective employer that you are a hardcore gamer, and many recruiters would agree.  Bus Game academy, a start-up based in London suggests that many of the skills required to be a good gamer transfer well into the workplace and they suggest this is backed up by hard data.

If you enjoy unusual puzzle games like Portal or tower defence games like Defense Grid? The team has found that IT workers play those more than average.

But if you prefer Civilization, Total War, or X-Com, where strategy and resource management are key, then you might have more in common with managers.

As an employer, would you hire a hardcore gamer for their gaming skills?

Read the article published by BBC News at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49317440

Why Is Onboarding So Important

What is it?

When we talk about onboarding, we mean the process of integrating a new employee into the business.

For some businesses, the main aim when recruiting a new employee is to see a return on investment as quickly as possible. With this in mind, some employers may cover basic Health and Safety items and then leave the new employee at their desk, to commence work. Although this may seem like a quick win, it’s not.

During an employee’s first day the focus should be on settling them in and making them feel comfortable and welcome. There are always some first-day nerves and if not put at ease these can lead to doubts… Have I made the right decision? Should I have accepted the other offer? Was I better off in my old position? I think we’ve all heard a story of someone who went for lunch on their first day and never returned!

Why is it so important?

As we enter 2019, we are seeing an employment market where employees have more control than ever before. Roles are more readily available and employees expect more than ever before. Statistics show that 20% of turnover happens in the first 45days of employment.  Which shows employers need to get this right at the start before the employee makes the decision to leave.

*On average it can cost around £11,000 to replace an employee earning the UK average of £27,721 and you don’t want that money to have gone to waste.

*Source: https://businessadvice.co.uk/hr/recruitment/revealed-the-secret-costs-of-replacing-your-staff/

What should the Aims and Objectives be?

The main aim is for the employee to leave after their first day happy that they made the right decision and eager to return the following day.

The objectives will differ slightly depending on the role and level the employee is starting within the business. However, the core objectives will remain the same.

At Optimal PBS we offer a free consultation to discuss your induction procedure and assess if you could benefit from enhancement. Don’t worry if you don’t currently have a process, we can work with you to design the best options for your business.

We know one size doesn’t fit all and that’s why we work with our clients to ensure the work we provide is bespoke to your requirements.