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Office design: a response to the UK recruitment crisis

Right now, the UK is in the midst of a recruitment crisis – thousands of job vacancies without candidates to fill them. Employers are having to work harder than ever to attract and retain talent – but are they putting too much emphasis on the wrong tactics? Could the working environment now sway more effectively than traditional benefits for the job-hunters of today?

Records show that the current UK employment market is more candidate-driven than it has been for the last 50 years.

There is an abundance of new roles on offer but not enough applicants to fill them, which means employees have the pick of the bunch and can therefore afford to be considerably more selective when it comes to choosing their employers and the companies they work for.

In this article, we take a look at what trends the statistics are demonstrating at the moment and what this means for companies who are having to go above and beyond to attract and retain the best talent in their industries.

Outside of obvious tactics like increased salaries and employee benefits, we explore how office design and workplace fit out considerations can play a huge role in making a company more appealing than its competitors in terms of recruitment.

What the statistics are saying right now

According to research carried out by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), the UK is currently experiencing record highs in the number of vacancies on the job market. The trend is mirrored in the graduate jobs arena too, with the number of graduate vacancies now 20% higher than they were pre-COVID.

The Office For National Statistics (ONS) estimates that in September 2021, the number of available jobs rocketed by almost 1.2 million, rising to a record high.

Two women passing a CV clipboard to each other during a job interview

So, it’s clear to see that there is a concerning misalignment between job vacancies and employees taking up these new job roles. However, what we’re most interested in here is why this trajectory is happening; what are candidates now looking for from prospective employers?

Aside from the rise in people wanting to change their career paths post-pandemic, the new era of remote working is having a significant impact on the recruitment landscape. Employees are now looking for companies that will provide this increased flexibility and with more remote opportunities on the market, fewer candidates are now willing to travel or relocate for work.

According to the Hays Salary & Recruitment Trends 2022 guide:

  • 65% of employees would consider changing jobs if another organisation were to offer them more flexibility.
  • 48% of professionals are planning a career change in the near future, with almost half (46%) of those looking for a greater mix of hybrid working.

So, despite UK salaries increasing by almost 3% in 2021 and 61% of employers saying they plan to further increase pay in 2022, it seems money isn’t everything to the candidates of today. In fact, things like flexibility and inclusivity are continually climbing the ranks of priority.


In our own Inclusive Workplaces: The Future of Office Design & Culture report, we found that:

  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of people want to work for an inclusive company.
  • Inclusive design (25%) is now a higher employment priority than private healthcare (15%).
  • Nearly 60% would consider leaving a job due to a lack of inclusive company culture or facilities.

Download the full report here >>

Why office design is a vital tool in the UK recruitment crisis

The numbers above tell us everything we need to know: if employers are going to attract candidates to their open roles and retain them within their workforce, the working environment is essential.

Employees want flexibility, hybrid working and an inclusive place to work, where they feel that they belong to something, can participate equally and where they can exercise more autonomous choice and control around where, when and how they work.

Those are the types of factors that elevate an office from a place of work to a destination of choice and why companies now need to see office design, fit out, furniture and technology as invaluable pawns in these extremely competitive conditions.

The statistics are there in black and white – if a company isn’t willing to facilitate things like hybrid working and inclusive workspace design, employees will look elsewhere.

For more knowledge-sharing, head to our blog post on why 2022 is the perfect time to refurbish your office

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