Professional Hiring Index January 2013 | Robert Half

The Professional Hiring Index for the first half of 2013 looks at hiring trends and business confidence for the UK. 

  • 24% of senior directors say they will add new job positions in first half of the year
  • Only 9% of UK organisations predict job cuts between January and July 2013, compared to 21% in the same period in 2012
  • Majority (88%) find it difficult to recruit skilled professionals
  • Salaries frozen by 65% of companies; bonuses remain static for 42%

London, 24 January 2013 – UK directors predict an increase in the creation of new permanent roles in the first half of the year according to the latest Robert Half Professional Hiring Index (the ‘Index’). Nearly one in four (24%) directors say they plan to expand their operations by adding additional headcount and half (50%) plan to recruit staff to fill vacated positions when they arise.

More welcome news comes with the slowdown in redundancies within businesses when compared to the same time 12 months ago. Just 9% of directors said that they foresee a reduction in roles over the next six months: a significant drop on the 21%of directors predicting redundancies at the beginning of 2012. 

This optimism is reflected in businesses confidence in the country’s growth and their own companies’ successes.  Almost two thirds of UK directors(64%) feel more confident in the country’s economic growth over the next year than they did last year, up five points from the same survey 12 months ago, while more than three quarters(77%)say that they are more confident in their own company’s prospects looking forward, also up five points.

As the job market changes gear, directors report growing fears about losing top performers.  A large majority (80%) say they are concerned about losing their best staff, compared to 72% of directors a year ago.  An even higher proportion (88%)stated that they find it either very (27%) or somewhat (61%) challenging to find skilled professionals today.

Yet despite those concerns, directors report that both salaries and bonuses will remain static for the next six months. Almost two thirds (65%) of directors said that salaries will be frozen until at least July, with less than a third (31%) saying that they will increase salaries and just 3 stating that they would decrease salaries. 

Just 14% of UK directors said they expect bonuses to increase over the next six months, while 42% said they would remain static. Nearly a third (29%) said that no bonuses would be paid by their organisations. This rises to 49% for public sector organisations, but shrinks to 21% for private companies. Encouragingly, however, more than half (51%) of public sector organisations continue to offer bonuses to employees despite budget cuts throughout the sector.

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK said:“Our research shows some notable trends in the UK employment marketplace.  There are genuine signs of increased optimism, with lower predictions on redundancies and higher predictions on new roles.  Yet while company executives are even more concerned about finding and retaining the best people than they were a year ago, the majority of companies are as yet unable to adjust remuneration on a widespread scale, including salaries and bonuses.

“We believe that companies need to find new incentives to attract and keep the best people while the economy continues to recover, and these may include more flexible working arrangements, extra holiday and greater responsibilities and challenges within roles.  2013 may also be the year when directors are forced to look at awarding payrises and bonuses to selected people in order to retain them.”

Regional findings

Directors in London and the South East are most likely to add new positions to their organisations, finds the Index, with 28% reporting an increase in roles compared to the Midlands (24%), the North and Scotland (22%) and the South West and Wales(20%). 

UK Directors were asked, “What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professionals in the first half of 2013? Their responses: 



North & Scotland


London & South East

South West & Wales

Expanding – adding new positions






Maintaining – only filling vacated positions






Freezing – not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones






Reducing – eliminating positions












*calculations don’t add up to 100% due to rounding.

The ability to find skilled professionals is uniform across the regions, although the proportion of directors reporting that it is ‘very challenging’ to identify the right people is higher in the South West and Wales (35%) than in London and the South East (28%), the North and Scotland (24%) and the Midlands (21%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, directors in London and the South East lead the way in economic confidence, with 69% saying they are confident in the country’s growth over the next 12 months. This compares to lower levels of confidence in the Midlands and the North and Scotland (both 62%) and the South West and Wales (56%).

Accounting and finance hiring

Demand for accounting and finance professionals will outpace demand for all other professional roles, finds the research.  Directors predict an increase in new positions of 28%, compared to the average 24% across accounting and finance, financial services, IT and other professional occupations.  The London and the South East region is leading the charge, with 40% of companies saying that they will add new positions to their organisations.  Demand for good people is making it difficult for 92% of companies to find skilled professionals.

Financial services hiring

The requirement for financial services professionals will run at a higher level than average, with 31% of directors reporting that they will add new roles to their organisations.  The highest demand will be for professionals with accounting and finance skills within the financial services industry, topping the list of desirable roles for 66% of directors.  More than half (56%) will look for operations support.   

Technology hiring

Hiring for new roles in technology positions is slightly below the average, with 23%of organisations establishing new roles. More than three quarters of directors (78%)say that it is difficult to find the right people, while 71% say that they are concerned about losing their best people.  The main demand in technology hiring is for experts in software development, cited by 15% of directors; applications development(12%); and security (11%).

Hiring for other professional occupations

New roles in other professional occupations will continue the general trend with 22%of directors reporting a rise in new professional roles over the next six months, while 19% say they will add new roles in administration and support. Key office support roles will include project administrative support (cited by 44%) and logistic support (42%) on the professional level side and sales assistance (19%) on the administrative level side.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

About the Survey

 The bi-annual Robert Half Professional Hiring Index was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 600 interviews with senior executives from companies across the UK, in areas of HR, financial services, finance and accounting and technology with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.  The survey was conducted in December 2012.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and