Predictions for the future: 5 employment trends to be aware of in 2019

By Matt Weston 4th December 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to consider what’s on the horizon for the year ahead.

Many different factors will impact the employment market in 2019. From a political point of view, the past 12 months have been dominated by the Government’s Brexit negotiations. A key element to emerge from this will be access to talent while the UK grapples with its current skills shortage.

Businesses need to prepare their organisations for the impact a final deal will have on their long-term plans, but securing the right talent to support those plans is a more burning issue and needs to be addressed.

Webinar: 5 strategies to combat the UK’s hiring challenges in 2019

The digitisation effect

Despite earlier predictions that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will steal our jobs, the latest reports show that they will have the opposite effect. 

PwC has reported that AI will be all about displacement, not replacement, of traditional jobs. It predicted that around seven million UK jobs in sectors such as manufacturing and transport could be displaced by AI between 2017 and 2037. But it also said that about 7.2 million new jobs could be created, notably in sectors like health and science - meaning a net growth in jobs of about 200,000. The one thing that is clear is that the evolution of the workplace is here.

However, the UK talent market is already experiencing a lack of digital skills needed to help businesses adapt to digitisation, AI and automation. All the indicators show that demand for skilled professionals in finance, technology, marketing and business support will continue to grow in line with the sharpening focus on productivity, digitisation and automation.

The impact of your employer brand

Finding candidates is the first step in winning the war for talent. But persuading in-demand professionals to join your firm over another is just as much of a challenge. 

Every company’s reputation is already out there for all to see, and social media sites such as Glassdoor serve to provide feedback from current and past employees to help prospective clients to do their homework before an interview is even in their diary.

It is increasingly important to candidates that they find roles with organisations that provide a collaborative, flexible workplace that also makes them feel invested in the success of their team. Recently, the British Chamber of Commerce has cited a link between flexibility and increased productivity levels which can only be a good thing for business.

Streamlining your time to hire

Demand for the best professionals with the most relevant skills will continue to grow in the year ahead - and acting more quickly to secure chosen candidates must be high on businesses’ agendas. 
In our research with jobseekers, we found almost a quarter claim to receive more than one job offer, while 57% have accepted a second-choice role when their preferred employer took too long to contact them.

Calling on the professional gig economy

Having identified and communicated the unique selling points of your business, as well as addressing the lags in your hiring process, it’s worth thinking about flexible recruitment strategies. What we’re calling the professional gig economy is well underway, with over 15% of the UK workforce now classed as self-employed.

As it gains momentum, this trend opens a wealth of new strategic staffing possibilities for businesses. Organisations are beginning to rely more heavily on flexible recruitment models as a means of balancing economic uncertainty and lack of available talent.

Focus on retention

Once you have attracted and secured the right people, the next challenge is to ensure they stay. According to our research, almost one in four people would consider leaving their current job if an equivalent job with a better remuneration package came along, so it’s worth consulting our 2019 Salary Guide to check you’re still offering competitive rates of pay.

Retention strategies for the coming year should aim to focus more on the human-first approach, beginning with leadership techniques. Our research found that employees were most happy at work when they felt a sense of appreciation, pride in their organisation and when they were treated with fairness and respect.

Another reason for candidates to leave their roles is that an employer is unable to provide a clear development path, including training. Our research found that three-quarters of candidates are more likely to quit their jobs if this is the case compared with three years ago.

Time for change

It’s difficult to know exactly how political and economic events will play out in 2019. But whatever happens, the digitisation agenda means employers have no choice but to hire the right people at the right time to transform and automate business processes.

The good news is that there are already tried and tested ways of ensuring that you both attract and retain the people you need. 


Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK

Matt has worked for Robert Half for more than 18 years; he began his career as a recruitment consultant for Robert Half Finance and Accounting in 1999. Matt quickly excelled as a top consultant and earned a number of prestigious awards including being recognised four times as Robert Half’s worldwide number one consultant. With extensive experience in financial recruitment in the UK, Matt is a familiar industry figure and a valuable spokesperson on current trends affecting the market. 

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