Last reviewed 20 June 2022

Reacting to the latest labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that record job vacancies and buoyant employment figures were defying the economy’s slowing growth.

“If judging the labour market on the record low unemployment figures then the picture is rosy,” CIPD labour market economist, Jonathan Boys, said. “However, despite unemployment continuing to fall, there are still fewer workers than pre-pandemic. At the same time demand for staff remains strong as employers continue to post a record 1.3 million vacancies.”

Given that the inability to recruit and retain staff has been holding some businesses back, he went on, it is important that businesses look at how they can take on people that have been economically inactive, as well as other key groups.

Mr Boys also noted that inflation is eroding some of the highest nominal pay rises in recent history and a clear gap between the private sector, where pay has risen by 8%, and the public sector where the equivalent figure is just 1.5%.

When including bonuses, he highlighted, real pay rose by 0.4% but without bonuses it fell by 2.2%.

As to what would tempt people back into the employment, Mr Boys pointed to CIPD research on older workers which shows clear preferences for flexible working, including home working arrangements.

“Such policies can be an important part of the reasonable adjustments needed to manage health conditions which older workers are more likely to have,” he concluded. “It’s vital that employers look at flexible options for older workers, so people can work in a way that is comfortable for as long as they wish to work.”

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

The pandemic initiated a shift in employees’ priorities, with many now focused on creating an effective work-life balance.

Whilst the offering of flexible working arrangements can positively support recruitment strategies, employers may also wish to consider their wider benefits packages.

Family-related leave (including the provision of grand-parental leave) can encourage older workers, as can enhanced holiday entitlements and dedicated wellbeing days or “duvet days”.