Four-in-five UK businesses are confident about their growth prospects for H1 2021

Four in five UK businesses (78%) are ‘somewhat to very confident’ about their growth prospects for the first half of 2021, according to the latest C-suite research from specialist recruiter Robert Half UK.

  • Despite the current macroeconomic environment, 78% of UK business leaders are ‘somewhat to very confident’ about their growth prospects going into the first half of 2021
  • Almost a quarter of companies surveyed (23%) are actually expanding their workforce and actively adding new positions
  • Manufacturing, logistics and pharmaceuticals are the top sectors currently driving demand for new hires in the UK 

London, Tuesday 8 January: Four in five UK businesses (78%) are ‘somewhat to very confident’ about their growth prospects for the first half of 2021, according to the latest C-suite research from specialist recruiter Robert Half UK1.

The research, collected across six key international markets, found that growth sentiment is highest in Brazil (88%), followed by France and the UK (78%), Australia (77%), Germany (72%), and Belgium (69%).

Perhaps surprisingly given the impact of COVID-19 at present, the general economic climate (36%) and expanding business opportunities (34%) were cited amongst the top influences on 2021 growth prospects, in addition to the pace of digitisation and adoption of new technologies (30%).

Hiring trends in 2021

While continued pandemic-induced market turbulence sees two thirds (66%) of international businesses planning to maintain headcounts2 (compared to 76% in the UK) in H1, almost a quarter of those surveyed (23%) will be expanding their workforces and actively adding new positions.

Only 8% of companies intend to freeze headcounts entirely and an even smaller proportion (3%) plan on reducing workforce numbers during the first half of 2021.

With this in mind, the top five sectors currently driving demand for talent in the UK according to Robert Half include:

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Logistics
  3. Pharmaceuticals
  4. Financial Services 
  5. IT Services

The top priority hires for the first half of 2021, across the technology sector, finance & accounting and general office roles, are:

For CIOs/CTOs For CFOs For General Hiring Managers
Cloud Engineers Financial Analysts Sales
Network/Systems Managers Financial Planners Customer Service
Analytics & Security Specialists Accounts Managers E-Commerce/Digital Marketing Specialists
DevOps Managers Risk/Compliance Roles Communications (Internal & External)
Database Administrators Tax Managers Business Managers










Commenting, Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half, said: “Our latest employment market data suggests a mixed commercial picture at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic cycle. The global shift to remote and hybrid working, as well as the pivot towards online and e-commerce revenue generation and data-driven operational and planning processes, are all influencing the hiring intentions and priorities that Robert Half is seeing at the start of the New Year.

“Early indications are that 2021 is going to be a year of recovery and rebuilding for both companies and individual workers alike. As such, business agility, adaptability, risk management and forward planning propensities continue to be top priorities for many companies. These same attributes are also likely to be hallmarks of the evolving future of work in the longer term.

“During what remains a volatile business environment in which change remains the only constant, many companies are struggling to find the talent they need to support new business priorities sparked by the pandemic. Professionals with in-demand skills know they still have options and employers must offer competitive salaries and benefits to retain key personnel, as well as attract and secure top candidates during this calendar year – and beyond.”


Notes to Editors

Additional Information & Resources

Robert Half understands that it takes time and effort to evaluate the best talent strategy for different businesses. For further independent advice to assist with your recruitment and workforce planning efforts, visit

For the latest salary and benefits information here in the UK, access the Robert Half Salary Guide, containing information for more than 250 positions spanning Accounting, Finance, Technology, Admin & HR, and Marketing fields.

About Robert Half

Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers hiring and job search services at

1Robert Half commissioned research from 1,800 executives using an online data collection methodology during November 2020. This was comprised of 300 interviews each in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Respondents included General Managers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers with hiring responsibilities across small (50-249 employees), medium (250-499) and large (500+ employees) from private, publicly listed, and public sector businesses across the six markets.
2Only filling vacated positions over coming months due to voluntary quits or involuntary terminations.