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HR Soft Skills in Demand in 2021/2022

Most human resources skills fall into the category of soft skills due to how much of the job deals with person-to-person interaction. These skills are in high demand because every HR professional needs them regardless of their role. The challenges that have been set upon many HR professionals during the pandemic has surged the demand for these 5 key soft skills by employers during 2021 leading the way for recruitment expectations in 2022. Innovation This can be a difficult skill to cultivate because it requires working in an environment that allows you to innovate. With many organisations now with a hybrid working pattern, which may be predominantly remote, it’s important to ensure that creative thinking and planning is included to ensure your organisation encourages innovation. Think about your personal life and the ways you’ve innovated in your daily life or hobbies. Showing a recruiter how your brain works and innovates off the job is just as valuable as demonstrating your qualifications on paper.  Discussing your experiences where you innovated something to provide a better solution is key. Did you suggest new training procedures to increased employee engagement? Or maybe you devised a better system for tracking annual leave? Talk about those successes and wins in both your CV and further discussion during the interview. Fostering Cultural Intelligence and Diversity Having cultural intelligence and awareness beyond your own is highly attractive to employers, particularly with those who work cross border. Moreover, cultural intelligence is also important while communicating with individuals belonging to other sectors within the same company.  It allows easy communication across sectors, necessary for a company to run smoothly. Cultural intelligence makes it easier for employees to interact with individuals and corporate customers, gain their trust, and have an advantage over their competition. Cultural intelligence helps bridge the gap between outsourced divisions, local customers, and colleagues. It leads to an in-depth understanding of the working pattern in various parts of the globe and ergonomically adapts to those patterns. It is instrumental in creating awareness of the emerging markets and management styles, making cultural intelligence and diversity a soft skill frequently sought after in candidates.  Emotional Intelligence This is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you are able to think empathetically about the people around you and the interpersonal relationships that develop in the workplace. This is another soft skill that has taken on new meaning for 2021. Stress, grief, and frustration are abundant as we continue to work through the pandemic and onwards. From new work-from-home challenges to lost loved ones or other pandemic issues, having the ability to read the emotions of your co-workers and respond with compassion is essential.  During the interview, don’t forget to highlight how you have developed your EI, perhaps if you’re comfortable doing so, highlighting some of the personal events and how it has helped you develop a deeper EI quota. Decision Making As you get further into your career path, there will be more emphasis on the management part of human resources management. Leaders are expected to make tough decisions at every turn and it’s no different for those who work in HR. Being able to decide which candidate to hire, how to handle an internal conflict, or even how to communicate tough news all circle back to strong decision-making skills. When highlighting your career experience, talk about a time you had to make a tough decision at work. Show how you were a leader and decision-maker in your previous positions and be ready to discuss it during an interview. Flexibility Moving to a partial or complete work-from-home environment was a big leap of faith for many employers. Would their teams be legitimately productive away from their office? Without the natural structure that a day at the office provides, flexibility became a soft skill that quickly rose to the top of many recruiters' priority lists. Flexibility is the ability to adapt and respond to the changing environment and to constructively create opportunities for change through active participation. It is a core competency required of an HR professional, now more than ever. Flexibility is required with time, finances, workload, as well as understanding and the ability to demonstrate this key trait, is not only attractive to the employer, but to the employees, the HR professionals are recruiting. To conclude, there are many soft skills that are immeasurable to the success of an HR department and organisation. The key oversight for many employers is to only focus on the technical competencies of their employees, however, soft skills are taking up vital space in organisational functions. Think of your soft skills as your accessories. Alone will not qualify you for a job, but when paired with solid credentials, they will complement your hard skills and can make you a much more attractive candidate.  For more information on this article or to speak to our specialist recruitment consultants about your next HR role in the charity sector, contact


A National Insurance Contributions 'Holiday' for Employed Veterans from 2021/2022

The 2019 Conservative Party Manifesto stated: We will reduce National Insurance contributions for employers if they employ ex-Service personnel. Consultation In July 2020, HMRC published a Consultation entitled ‘Supporting veterans transition to civilian life through employment’.  This 25-page document is very interesting about an employer’s Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) ‘holiday’.  The pertinent points were confirmed at Spring Budget 2020 (point 2.179 is the most informative).  The Condoc outlines the three key issues: How to define a veteran for the purpose of the relief The types of qualifying employment and the length of time it applies to The most effective way to administer this relief and how employers can claim it Responses On 11 January 2021, HMRC published its Responses document.  This confirms:  It will apply to employers who employ veterans of the Armed Services, as per a definition already contained in the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and Northern Irish equivalent The NICs holiday will apply to all veterans of the Armed Forces entering ‘civilian employment’ and will not be dependent on the date that they left.  The NICs legislation defining civilian employment will be expanded to include overseas employment and be an employment that is not part of HM Armed Forces   The holiday will not be extended to support employers’ people who have served in the Reserve Forces The holiday will apply to employers every time in a veteran’s lifetime when they enter civilian employment after leaving service.  So, an employer of a veteran who left service, entered civilian employment, re-joined service, left and entered civilian employment again will be able to benefit.  This is quite different from the position outlined by HMRC in the original consultation The qualifying veterans will not exclude employed directors of Single Director Companies, ‘deemed employees’ under the off-payroll reforms and users of Personal and Managed Service Companies. It will be a 12-month employer National Insurance Contributions ‘relief’, applying to earnings up to and including the new Veterans Upper Secondary Threshold (VUST) in the pay reference period (£50,270 per annum in 2021/22, to be confirmed) It will be effective April 2021 – for tax year 2021/22, however, this will not be through the payroll until tax year 2022/23 when it will be through RTI.  ‘Transitional administrative arrangements will be in place for tax year 2021/22.  This means that employers employing a qualifying veteran in civilian employment will have to pay the employer’s NICs and reclaim the monies Employers who employed a veteran before 06 April 2021 and they are in the first 12 months of civilian employees will be able to reclaim a pro-rated amount of employer’s NICs.  Employers will calculate eligibility by counting from the veteran’s first day of civilian employment, regardless of whether that employment is with them or a previous employer Legislation Primary legislation in the form of the National Insurance Contributions Bill (Regulations 6 and 7) will introduce a zero-rate of secondary Class 1 National Insurance Contributions for veterans with effect from 6 April 2021.  This will amend: The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and The Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 It will also allow the new Upper Secondary Threshold to be created, catering for veterans entering civilian employment (Regulation 8). Note that this only applies for the tax years 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24.  However, the Bill allows for this to be extended by further tax years.  Guidance There is a ‘technical overview’ of this legislation, published on 11 January 2021. As regards guidance on how employers will manually make the reclaim in tax year 2021/22, the Responses document says: ‘HMRC will publish guidance before April 2021 that sets out the information and records an employer will need to maintain for qualifying employments relating to the 2021 to 2022 tax year to claim the relief.’ This published guidance came in the form of a Policy Paper dated 10 February 2021 which simply said that an employer will need to keep the following records: Information showing that the individual is a qualifying veteran’ – see Regulation 7 of the Bill entitled ‘veteran conditions’ The start date of the veteran’s first civilian employment I assume that the employer will also want to keep details of the associated Secondary Class 1 Employers National Insurance contributions in the period until April 2022. Making the Reclaim In that regard, on 03 August 2021, HMRC produced guidance for software developers that will soon be replicated on the Gov.UK ‘Real Time Information support for software developers’.  However, it is interesting and important for employers to note how the reclaim will be effected.  There are two points worth noting: The reclaim will not be available in-year through software for tax year 2021/22.  The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) have described this as ‘unfortunate’ meaning that a claim after the end of the tax year will affect the cash-flow of employers A new threshold is introduced called the Veterans Upper Secondary Threshold (VUST).  The purpose of this is similar to the UST (Upper Secondary Threshold for those under 21) and the AUST (Apprentice Upper Secondary Threshold for apprentice under 25).  The NICs Bill will prescribe that employer’s NICs are at 0% up to and including this threshold, however, the value of the VUST need not necessarily be the same as the value of the ST (Secondary Threshold), UST or AUST So, HMRC’s guidance indicates that the value of the ST, UST, AUST and VUST will be aligned at £50,270 per annum – though we must wait for associated legislation to confirm this. Tax Year 2021/22 As above, for qualifying veterans, employers will need to pay the Secondary Class 1 NICs and make a reclaim after the end of the tax year However, HMRC has requested that payroll software is updated before April 2022 to allow employers to make a reclaim via an amended Full Payment Submission (FPS).  This is not a legislative requirement but HMRC’s request to ‘provide a smooth customer journey’ Where payroll software is not updated, HMRC will provide reclaim guidance before April 2022 Employers should make the reclaim under NI category letter V.  There is no equivalent veteran’s NI letter for a mariner (letters Q, T and W) or others (letters B, C and J).  Where these letters may apply, an RTI amendment cannot be made and reclaim will be a manual process by contacting HMRC at the end of the tax year Tax Year 2022/23 Employers will be able to perform calculations in-year (through software) Qualifying employees (ex-veterans in civilian employment as per Regulation 7 of the above Bill) must be placed on NI category letter V Software will ensure that earnings up to and including the VUST will be free from Secondary NICs As above, there is only one NI letter, so any employee that would normally be on another letter Remember We are talking about a 12-month NICs holiday for employers on earnings up to and including the VUST.  This 12-month holiday begins on the day that the ex-veteran first enters civilian employment.  So, an issue will be accurate record-keeping, as outlined in HMRC’s Policy Paper dated 10 February 2021 (Example 3): A veteran C leaves HM Armed Forces on 01 August 2021, commencing civilian employment with Employer A on 30 August 2021 Record-keeping (possibly payroll software functionality) for Employer A will record that 30 August 2021 is the start of the 12-month qualifying period Veteran C leaves Employer A and commences with Employer B on 30 November 2021 Employer B will need to establish and record that Veteran C’s first day of civilian employment was 30 August 2021 Employer B can place Veteran C on category letter V until 29 August 2022 All employers will want to ensure that their software is updated for 2022/23.  However, employers that have employed qualifying veterans with the 12 months end date in the 2021/22 tax year will need to query whether there will be functionality to make a FPS adjustment in April 2022. There is a lot of employers and software developers to get their head around here. This article is written by Ian Holloway, a highly respected payroll practitioner, writer, advisor and trainer at i-Realise. Ian has worked in the payroll profession for over 30 years.  He has developed exceptional 360-degree insight into payroll’s challenges and the impact of relevant legislation – having worked for both in-house payroll teams, software providers and as a payroll lecturer, writer and government advisor. ​ For more advice or a quick discussion on how I can help with your Payroll Recruitment needs, please contact me at or call 07793 077 421


Are Payroll Professionals Now Seen as More Than Just the People Who ‘Push the Pay Button’?

Pre-pandemic, Payroll professionals were seen as ‘the people who pay us’, they push the ‘big red button ’and your staff are magically paid. However, during the last 18 months, they are now seen as more of a source of knowledge and insight in the business. We recently polled my several thousand connections and it shows that Payroll Professionals are now more sought after than the HR teams, and even more so than the leadership when it comes to advice on pay.   Over the years, both payroll and pensions professionals have seen significant changes affecting the way they do their jobs, but the last 18 months in particular, with the pandemic catalysing the changing perceptions of the profession. Here are the three main reasons why: Trust Ken Pullar, Chief Executive at the CIPP mentions, ‘to be successful in any profession it is also important, to be honest, and to have integrity, particularly within payroll, says Pullar. “You are the one person within the organisation who has access to every single employee’s personal data and details of their pay, and potentially other financial information depending on the benefits package offered,” he explains. “Everything within your role is entrusted to you in confidence, and it is essential for your success and for the wellbeing of the organisation's employees that you do not break that confidence.”  Payroll professionals are entrusted with an organisation’s biggest expenditure, and quite often left to their own devices to ensure that everyone is paid accurately and on time. “Every so often there are cases within the media about payrollers, I won’t call them professionals, who have defrauded an organisation through ‘ghost’ employees,” says Pullar. “As a payroll professional, you should have the integrity to ensure that this does not happen within your organisation.” Knowledge With payroll becoming much more than salary, and more about overall reward strategies, especially with legislation such as gender pay gap reporting and GDPR impacting on payroll, it is more important than ever that professionals constantly refresh their knowledge and skills. Their insight and knowledge is pivotal in business operations and should not be overlooked. Equally as important as it is for the Payroll employee to stay up-to-date, is the need for employers and organisations not to overlook the need for further training and development of their payroll teams. Less competent teams can put a business at risk for fines and penalties. Diligence Payroll can be very rewarding, but it can also be frustrating because when someone’s pay is calculated incorrectly, it does not matter how the information was received or from whom, payroll will always be held accountable and will be expected to resolve any discrepancies, With the many changes in legislation, with the introduction of furlough, and questions of how it will affect pay and remuneration, it is critical that Payroll professionals remain diligent with the entire payroll process.  Being in the Payroll recruitment profession for many years, I am aware of the many respectable attributes that Payroll professionals have, which often go unseen by employers, but the last year or so have elevated the fact that those in the profession are tech-savvy, deadline-driven, self-aware and flexible to change, and from my Poll and my experience, I am glad to see the perceptions are changing. For more information about this article or to discuss your Payroll recruitment needs, please contact Ray Moore on 07725 970 360 or email


Too Hot to Work?

Every year we get periods of extreme temperatures.  Although 2021 is not a ‘normal’ year as far as workplaces are concerned, an employer has the same obligations towards staff welfare. The question all employers should be considering (and employees will be asking) is: Is it too hot to work? So, we have to consider whether there is a maximum working temperature.  This being a temperature above which it is not acceptable for employers to expect employees to work (and employees should expect to have to work in). As usual, I head straight for the legislation which, as you would expect, differs depending on whether you are in Great Britain or Northern Ireland: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 in Great Britain, and The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 However, in both pieces of legislation, it is Regulation 7 that says: During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable. So, what does reasonable actually mean?  The next step is to look at the guidance on this legislation, found in the relevant Approved Codes of Practice on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Executive (Northern Ireland) (HSENI) Websites.  Whilst the Websites may be different, the guidance is the same:  ‘The temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius’ In short, the legislation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland only covers minimum working temperatures.   However, the above guidelines then point to the HSE Website that describes ‘thermal comfort’.  This is defined as ‘a person’s state of mind in terms of whether they feel too hot or too cold’.  It used to say that an accepted zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK lies between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F), with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities towards the higher end.  Now, more emphasis seems to be on the employer’s responsibility for managing thermal comfort, as per the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and 2000 Northern Ireland equivalent.  So, in light of the obligations under these Regulations, I thought I would point employers to some guidance, particularly relevant at this time – note that thermal comfort is the same UK-wide, so the links to the HSE Website in Great Britain apply equally in Northern Ireland: What is thermal comfort? What are the six factors of determining thermal comfort? Measuring thermal comfort Controlling thermal comfort On the last link, look at eth bottom for the handy ‘Thermal Comfort Checklist’ that can be downloaded in order to carry out thermal comfort risk assessments.  Also note that the Management Regulations apply to some self-employed – so, employers should think of their responsibility as being to workers rather than just employees. It is really important that employers are aware of thermal comfort and consult with employees or their representatives to establish ways of coping with high temperatures.  After all, failure to do so is against the Management Regulations.  This article is written by Ian Holloway, a highly respected payroll practitioner, writer, advisor and trainer at i-Realise. Ian has worked in the payroll profession for over 30 years.  He has developed exceptional 360-degree insight into payroll’s challenges and the impact of relevant legislation – having worked for both in-house payroll teams, software providers and as a payroll lecturer, writer and government advisor. ​For more information on this article or to speak to our specialist recruitment consultants about your next HR role in the charity sector, contact Charlotte Dunkerton on 020 7269 6342 or


How Has The Pandemic Changed Recruitment Agencies - What Agency Recruiters Are Looking for in Their Next Move

After a very strange 18 months in recruitment, the industry that seemed to be struggling last year has bounced back with an absolute bang and the number of roles and demand out there for experienced recruiters, in what has always been a very candidate short market, is higher than ever! Most agencies have always mixed up hiring new and junior consultants along with making experienced hires (some agencies and industries have only hired juniors to train up) but the effects of the pandemic seem to have changed that significantly. Yes, there are still some agencies out there hiring grads and candidates with no recruitment experience (although these seem to be the agencies who are telling their staff that they must be in the office 5 days a week and have not offered any flexibility through the pandemic) but the majority of role out there are for experienced recruiters. The cause of this shift in hiring patterns? Simply put – a pandemic and flexible working! Whilst working from home, not being in the office to train develop and listen to newer and inexperienced recruiters on the phones being able to coach and nurture them has become much harder. Also, most agency recruiters are busier than ever, with more jobs than ever, and the need for employers is someone who can hit the ground running. Due to this, good agency recruiters are being headhunted and approached more than ever – in fact, one person I approached recently had been approached 11 times in 1 week!  Recruiters are notoriously the worst for taking their own advice – they always encourage candidates to have that career conversation with them, but never want to have it themselves. Is it because they truly are happy, or is it that when you are approached that many times all roles sound the same? Or another reason altogether? What do recruiters want? I recently conducted a poll to my Linkedin connections. The result showed there has been a shift in what recruiters are looking for when they do make that move. Recruitment has traditionally been an industry where you are in the office 5 days a week and working longer hours than most (when else are you going to speak to candidates who work but before and after working hours!?) but if the pandemic has taught us anything its that it doesn’t have to be this way. In my poll, 44% of recruiters said the most important thing they will be looking for in their next recruitment role is flexibility. From an industry that has not been known for flexibility, this is a huge shift! In fact, the majority of conversations I have been having since earlier this year is that people have not felt comfortable being told they have to be in the office every day for long hours and would prefer the work-life balance that has and will continue to be the new norm. Interestingly, a lot of recruiters got into the industry for a quick career progression route in a way that was clear cut and set out from day 1, only 19% stated clear career progression would be important when looking for their next move, while 35% would be looking at the salary, commission and benefits package on offer. Of course, the ideal is to have a mix of all of the above, but in a sales and target driven environment like recruitment, it's interesting to see the shift towards flexibility rather than it being all about money and promotions. As a recruiter reading this – what’s the most important thing to you and will you be looking for in your next role? If you want to find out more about how we are doing things differently at Pro and how we just might hit the mark on your list of what you want out of your next role over, speak to Loren on 07539 888 231 or email


Working From Home: Benefits to an Employer

With working patterns being disrupted, ‘the norm’ is looking very different to how it was 18 months ago. As the UK slowly eases back into the new realities of work, it’s an interesting time to explore the reason why remote working not only benefits the employee but widely has a beneficial impact for many organisations and employers. I recently surveyed my Linkedin contacts to discover their perceptions of workload whilst working from home: With 80% saying they felt they worked harder from home, as the effects of reducing the office culture are clearly taking a toll, with some of the conversations I have had including the issues below: 1 Blurred Lines between work and home life Burnout is real. It is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It’s important to be wary of this and ensure your teams realise when it is time to just switch off from work. 2 Lack of Social Contact This can be an issue if you work from home alone, without other people around the employee, be it housemates or family. It’s key to ensure that you as an employer are understanding of this situation and offer ways to support social interaction, be it through virtual team meetings to help map out the day or week of work, regular conversations over the phone or even face to face catch ups when restrictions permit. 3. Lack of Resources Do your teams have the tools and resources they need to fulfil their roles day-to-day? If you plan on switching to a hybrid model whereby your team is expected to work from home in the week, it’s essential they have the tech resources they need to complete their work. Do they need that second screen? DO they have sufficient tech tools? A review with your employees should help you distinguish what they need to support them when working from home. However, there are clearly benefits to your business which are, but not restricted to: 1 Productivity Working in the office can sometimes be distracting, busy and loud. which can lead to a lack of productivity and concentration issues for some of your employees. Employees working from home also benefit from the extra time in the morning avoiding their commute and being able to start the day fresh without the hassle of public transport. If employees are on-boarded with the right skills of how to work from home, then they are likely to be very efficient and productive. We at Pro have seen a huge uplift in productivity whilst we continue to review and ensure we provide our teams with the tools they need to succeed. 2 Improved Employee Retention and Attraction Even if an employee’s personal circumstances change, being address, Covid restrictions and self-isolation, working from home allow your employees to still focus and carry out their duties whilst working wherever they feel most comfortable. Being flexible in remote working opportunities is a great way for employers to retain staff, reduce employee turnover and ultimately save money on hiring in the long-term.  Remote working in the UK has shown to statistically be favoured by employees, being one of the most important company benefits for 19% of employees, who say that if they were torn between two roles, 1 in 5 individuals would accept the remote working jobs over office-based jobs. 3 Financial Benefits Fewer overheads, less need for costs in the office such as kitchen facilities, furniture or utilities. Without completely eliminating all costs, remote working can offer a reduction in the cost for the less necessary resources and allow you as an employer to focus on providing better tools and advance your technologies. 4 Improved Employee Wellbeing Having a flexible schedule can be beneficial to your employees for many reasons, including reducing stress and increasing happiness. Those who have children are able to take them to school or even have the evening meal with them, others who live further away from the office are able to benefit from the extra time and money saved in their commutes.  Mental health is currently the leading cause of sickness absence from work and costs the UK employers an average of £1300 per employee. Taking time off from work, or having the flexibility to work remotely is a great way to boost the work/life balance for employees which will lead to better mental well-being in the workplace. Here we see that the benefits do outweigh the disadvantages, however, as employers it is important that you manage your duty of care to ensure that those who may need that extra support whilst working from home are provided for. with 80% suggesting that they work longer hours whilst working from home, it's key that you as an employer review this before your staff experience burnout. For more information on this article or to speak to our specialist recruitment consultants about your next HR role in the charity sector, contact Charlotte Dunkerton on 020 7269 6342 or


Office Flexibility: Listen to your Employees

With the recent announcement of the delay of ‘Freedom Day’ to the 19th of July, when the Government have planned to lift work from home rules, along with the easing of all lockdown and social distancing, there is a lot of talk about the new normal and making permanent changes to the way we work. If we have learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s that most people have successfully been able to WFH, have an improved work/life balance and business performance has not been affected So what are peoples true thoughts on returning to the office? Last week it was announced that a Goldman Sachs boss has described homeworking as an aberration and that they will all be expected to return to the office in June (when the original easing of lockdown was originally expected) and  JP Morgan announced they’d be coming back but on a rotational model so 50% of employees are in at any one time. Since January, I have spoken to a large number of recruiters that have been back in the office five days a week, with no flexibility or home working, and have been commuting in for months, some even when London was in Tier 4 restrictions. These have mainly been from smaller firms, although ever some of the bigger firms and global powerhouses are insisting on a certain number of days in the office every week, although there does seem to be a little more flexibility to WFH and support from their employers. It’s really tricky in recruitment, as a lot of the role is about the culture, office environment, and colleagues. In fact, in a recent poll I’d conducted on LinkedIn, 44% of recruiters are looking for good culture and flexibility in the workplace. It is really about what is working for your employees and how to get the best out of them rather than insisting on the long hours in the office traditionally associated with recruitment. Here at Pro-Recruitment Group, we are still working from home (and have been since October last year when we went into Tier 4) and our productivity has doubled. We have had some absolute record performances and Personal Bests and the success our teams are having is across the board. This has shown us that WFH really has been good for us and our employees. We will allow this to shape our future of work, and the general office working pattern going forward. I recently posted a poll on LinkedIn asking what would employees feel comfortable with/want to do if THEY could CHOOSE their office working pattern, rather than being told what it will be from their employer. Only 7% of people wanted to be back in the office five days a week and 16% wanted to WFH five days per week. The resounding response was 74% of people would like to split going back to the office/WFH on a two-day three-day split (either way). Speaking to many of my colleagues, so many feel this way, whilst working from home gives the flexibility and work/life balance and saves time and money on a commute. It is also great to see your colleagues/friends and comrades at work to still give you that boost and human interaction. The hybrid model has been adapted into our working patterns for good! A lot of the comments on the post were rather than prescribing a few days in the office and some at home, giving employees the opportunity to choose their own office working pattern and give complete fluidity. Whilst this can work for some, depending on office size/meetings and diary commitments may make this a bit tricky. Here at Pro, we have recently downsized our office to accommodate a more flexible and agile workspace for our employees, and whilst the office is open (and has remained open throughout the pandemic) for people who cannot or do not want to WFH, we will not be asking or telling staff to return until the government guidelines change after July 19th. From July each team will have one day per week in the office (as this is what was requested by the teams), and the remaining four days can be from home or the office, whichever suits each person best. Some people will be in more, some less, but it's about giving our staff the flexibility to do what works for them. Our teams have worked so hard and performed so well through the challenges of the pandemic that we know they can be trusted and relied on to work in the way that suits them best. We will be reassessing priorities and what is happening in the world and with our teams again in another six months or so, coupled with engagement surveys and feedback to find out what people actually WANT to do! If you want to find out more about how we are approaching and going about work in a post-Covid world and want to be given more flexibility then contact Loren on 07539 888 231 for an informal chat or virtual coffee to find out more.


3 Ways to Celebrate Pride in the Workplace

There are several reasons to celebrate Pride Month in your workplace. From increasing inclusivity to retaining talented LGBTQ+ employees, progressive companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets due to the benefits of diversity, found in research by Harvard Business Review. As an employer and recruitment service, we are committed to ensuring representation of people from all backgrounds regardless of their gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, disability status, or any other aspect which makes them unique. As we celebrate Pride month, here are 3 things to ensure your business is involved, not just for the month, but to forge it into your operations and workplace ethos going forward. Evaluate Your Discrimination & Diversity Policies A diverse workplace is an eclectic mix of people with different experiences and identities.  To reduce the impact of implicit bias on your hiring process, evaluate the success of your diversity initiative and improve where necessary, this may involve internal HR reviews, including the question in exit interviews. At Pro, we have a strict and efficient discrimination policy in place as part of our internal recruitment policy as well as ensuring that clients and candidates we work with also share the same ethos. Provide Continuous Training A point that’s often missed in diversity initiatives in the workplace is that it’s not about the act of celebrating or acknowledging various groups – it’s about understanding why. Involve guest events, host webinars and create lunch and learn sessions. From a work perspective, we want our colleagues to understand each other – and this is where companies have part of the responsibility in emphasising inclusion, this is why it is ingrained in training throughout the careers of our teams, from understanding the use of language to highlighting improvements for our clients. Understand As the graphic below illustrates, sexual orientation, biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression are separate and distinct parts of your identity. Understanding these concepts is key to understanding LGBTQ issues and priorities. In a workplace, it’s important to foster care, unity and understanding. Providing a supportive culture that is free from judgement is essential in ensuring a harmonious and efficient team. As recruiters, it is our responsibility to help forge a fairer working environment for all.  Creating an environment that allows people to be their full, unadulterated selves! It’s great to see a group of people who have historically been marginalised (and often still are today) just take a moment to celebrate their culture and community, and to be able to join in and support this month, but our initiative is to educate and ensure the clients, candidates and colleagues we work with understand the “why?”. For more information about this article or ideas on how you could be supporting Pride and diversity in the workplace, speak to Pro-HR's Charlotte Dunkerton on 07920 515 759 or email


Introducing: Charlotte Dunkerton - Pro-HR

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Charlotte Dunkerton to our Not-For-Profit recruitment team.  She will be managing our HR permanent division into the NFP, charity and third sector space. Charlotte has a wealth of recruitment experience including HR and charity sector experience and will bring lots of expertise to our current client and candidate base as well as her own network built over many years 2021 has been a great year so far. As we ease back into normality from the recent pandemic, demand is very high for experienced HR professionals. If you are looking for an HR role or need to add talent to your team, do reach out to Charlotte. Charlotte specialises in placing HR professionals into permanent roles in the Not-for-Profit sector. This includes:  HR Directors OD HR Consultants Change and transformation  L&D Head of HR HR Managers HR Officers and Advisers Charlotte is a fantastic addition to our team, and already a well-valued member of the Pro-Group team. I am delighted that our Charities and NFP division continues to offer our clients and candidates HR recruitment services. Please do not hesitate to contact Charlotte on +44(0)20 7269 63542 or email to discuss our latest opportunities and recruitment needs. Finally, due to the demand, we are still adding to our team and are interested in speaking to any experienced recruiters with either interim HR or finance experience, please do give me a call if you are looking for your next step in your recruitment career.


Should Covid Vaccinations be Mandatory Before Returning to the Office?

At the time of writing, over 24m of the UK population have already received their first COVID vaccination and Boris has pledged to all adults in the UK being offered their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July. As a result, there is already a debate happening about whether employers can, or should, insist on employees being vaccinated. One of the knottiest questions is whether inoculations should be mandatory for staff before returning to work. Understandably, employers will see the vaccine as a means of protecting the health and safety of staff as it could help make the workplace more secure and give employees (and customers/clients) greater confidence about returning to work.  Not knowing which way the wider UK workforce would sway on the knotty question, I ran a poll to my Linkedin Network which closed at the start of March, and here is what I found. Things remain very undecided. Requiring an entire workforce to be vaccinated will be difficult to achieve from both a legal and employee relations perspective. The government is not currently introducing legislation to make the vaccination compulsory and therefore it will be for individuals to decide whether to or not to be vaccinated. The NHS is issuing ‘vaccine cards’ recording which vaccination an individual has received and reminding those receiving the vaccine to present for their second dose and medical records will, of course, record if someone has received the vaccine. However, whether the government will choose to issue vaccine passports or certificates is a difficult issue as it presents a number of novel, ethical issues.  Ongoing consultation with employees will be key to implementing any policies on Covid vaccination, and indeed on Coronavirus-related employment matters more generally. Here are a few things to bear in mind as part of this: Have an Open Approach  to Flexible Working Requests In the past, many employers were resistant to introducing flexible working for fear that it would lead to reduced productivity. With the pandemic, many employers will hopefully now have more trust in their employees and see that working from home or working flexible hours is the ‘new way of working’ and a very feasible option. It’s very likely that employers will receive a high number of flexible working requests when things return to “normal” so it would be sensible to consider how they might deal with these. Bear in mind that, given many employees have worked from home for the best part of a year, employers probably won’t be able to rely on blanket arguments that “home working doesn’t work” to turn down a request. At Pro, we’ve seen productivity increase, relationships are work are now even tighter as we continue to speak with our colleagues daily on Microsoft Teams. Counter any Misinformation Many employees may be sceptical of the vaccine, we live in an age where social media can cause misinformed judgements, so it’s important to make sure you, as an employer, are kept up-to-date with the correct information provided by the NHS and advise that your teams refer back to local GP who would be much better placed at providing information which may be sensitive to discuss in the workplace. Future Business Planning Consulting with your teams and colleagues should always be seen as a valuable opportunity. A discussion about appetite or concerns for the vaccine is naturally linked to questions about returning to normality and future work patterns. What do employees like about “the new normal” that they want to keep? Consider whether you want to return to the workplace as before, or whether this is a time to reimagine office life and adjust working practices and use of space as a result?  At Pro, we continue to build our future based on the opinions of our teams, using surveys and providing open forums for your teams to share opinions will build trust and develop a future of happy, retained, and ambitious employees who want to succeed with the growth of your business. So to conclude, employees and employers are very split in and amongst the debate of “Should COVID vaccines be mandatory before returning to the office? “ but it is certainly sensible to start thinking about what approach you might take, remembering that continued consultation with your teams will be key. If you would like more advice about returning to the office or the new working landscape, please do get in touch. I'd love to hear your thoughts, you can contact me on 020 7269 6351 or


The Rise of Interim and Consultancy Recruitment

According to ONS, there are currently over 1.4million temporary, interim or contract workers in the UK. Firms are now looking to hire temporary, interim and consultancy workers as business activity recovers.  Growth in Demand Short term demand for staff to complete operational tasks has been high and we’ve found organisations are more likely to hire interim and consultancy workers than permanent staff over the next six months as the demand for agency workers over the next year is likely to remain high. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s latest Jobs Outlook report, Temporary staff are becoming increasingly important to businesses as they try to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of uncertainty, interim and consultancy work can be a real asset to both employers and workers – it allows firms to create jobs when the future outlook is unclear, and gives people a chance to get back into work, earn money quickly, and progress into a permanent position. REC research shows that interim and consultancy work is not only important for employers, but for workers as well. Two in five (39%) people in Britain have done temporary, contract or freelance work during their lives, and the majority do this by choice. One in three (36%) chose to do this to find work quickly, while three in ten (28%) used temporary work to earn money quickly. Many also use temporary work as a stepping stone and progress into permanent positions – two in three (68%) of those who have done interim and consultancy work in the past are now in a permanent role. An equally important incentive driving the number of interim and consultancy workers is the opportunity for organisations to ‘try before they buy’. In other words, rather than spending weeks or even months on the hiring process to later discover that the employee is not the right fit for the company, UK firms are hiring temp workers to evaluate the workers’ performance, attitude to work and their overall suitability for the role in question, without the financial burden of a permanent job offer. This proves equally beneficial for temp workers who can assess the company and job role before they decide whether the job is right for them. Join Us Here at Pro-Group, we have a strong Interim and Contract offering, and looking to build and develop our offering. We have long-standing relationships with companies across our key sectors - Tax, Finance, HR and Marketing, Communications and Fundraising - and the interim and consultancy market is stronger than ever.  You will be joining a passionate and diverse team who work closely together to ensure they can deliver results and act as an extension to the client’s own recruitment processes.   Our story is simple, “We want to establish a company that truly valued, respected and looked after its employees. After all, not only are we in a ‘people’ industry, but we strongly believe that happy employees make for a successful company. Our staff are our number one asset!” - Pat Keogh, Chairman at Pro-Group.   Autonomous recruiting brings big rewards If you’re looking to take control of your own work, or if you are an experienced recruiter looking to start in a new sector then we can offer you the opportunity to really put your own stamp on the role and business as a whole. We do not demand pointless and unachievable KPIs but work with you as an individual to set personalised objectives and the ability to manage your workload and desk in a way that works for you.  We offer a market leading commissionsion structure, it’s rewarded to you quarterly, offering you the opportunity to earn up to 40% of your billings with plenty of fantastic benefits to suit, including mortgage savings schemes, private medical insurance as well as training and a market-leading technology suite to help you achieve.  As an SME, the management structure is flat which is very different to what I am used to having worked for larger organisations, but I see this as a massive benefit. Your voice is heard, listened to and the owners sit on the floor with you. I have also seen massive and progressive changes in Pro-Group in my few years with the company. If I need a new job-board - no problem as long as I can show a business case for it. Want to set up a new division? Again no problem, just present a business case and you will be backed. No red tape or layers of management to convince. If you have a vision and plan, it will be backed. How we’re adapting to the Pandemic Due to Covid19, every employee at Pro-Group is working 100% remotely, and we have ensured that they have the equipment and IT infrastructure and systems to be able to do this.   We are adapting quickly and in response to Government Guidelines and our main priority is to keep all of our employees safe and well. At the moment we are not sure when (or even if) there will be a full return to the office and are regularly reviewing the guidelines, taking feedback from our employees and have fully embraced a true flexible working approach.  We are able to interview virtually and for new joiners to Pro-Group, we have implemented a remote onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition to join the Pro-Family. If you are interested and would like to find out more about joining Pro-Group, please do get in touch. Let’s have an informal discrete discussion, you can contact me on 020 7269 6351 or


Market Update from Pro-Group: Pat Keogh - Chairman January 2021

Hello, a quick update on the recruitment market from me, Pat Keogh, Chairman of the Pro-Recruitment Group. January 2021 We've been asked recently by a number of candidates "What's the state of the Market like?", and if you know us, we cover the Tax, Legal, Finance, Marketing & HR sectors. All five sectors are really strong, and we've been really pleased with the number of new vacancies registered by the organisations we work with. Surprisingly, 2020 was a very good year for a number of our clients, especially the professional services firms, law firms and accountancy firms. Even a lot of our Not-For-Profit sectors and tax commerce and industry surprisingly had a really good year. And that's been reflected by their levels of recruitment. We have a large number of vacancies we are looking to fill. It's really a character of the market, and that might be a surprise to a lot of people, but candidates and those now looking for new opportunities now have a really good choice of roles out there, clients are really keen to recruit and some have really aggressive growth plans. Many organisations are seeing this time as a good opportunity to grow their business and grow their headcount. If you are looking and considering moving, it's definitely worth exploring the market. Do call us, do explore our website and you will be really surprised to see the number of vacancies out there. Come and speak to us. We will give you good solid advice. We will always give you the best advice as to your career options. Ot's definitely a good market, so definitely give one of our team a call.


900km run for CALM charity

With the impact of the pandemic this year taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, myself and 8 others at Pro-Recruitment Group have decided to raise money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) a small but growing charity, to support their campaigns, increase awareness, and offer our support. ​ Sadly, suicide rates have increased dramatically in both male and female in 2020, with Male suicide rate being at the highest for two decades. CALM is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. CALM runs a free and confidential helpline 0800 58 58 58 and webchat 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems, as well as help from other organisations.  CALM has experienced a record surge in demand for our helpline recently… 37% more daily calls in the first week of the Spring lockdown, to be precise. That’s why, during this second lockdown, myself, Rebecca English, Jennifer Nelson, Kevin Racher, Ashleigh Polakiewicz, Dominic Watt, Chris Davey, Tom Eagle and George Tatnell are aiming to run 100km each during a 30 day period to raise money and awareness for CALM, and hopefully improving our own mental wellbeing at the same time! With fundraising events being cancelled due to the pandemic, this charity needs our help more than ever - help fund CALM's life-saving helpline and webchat. Just £8 pays for a call that could turn someone’s life around. We understand that times are tough, however if you would like to donate, please visit our JustGiving funding page, where any donation is extremely appreciated. Stay tuned to socials for updates on our progress!               


Pat Keogh - Pro Group - October 2020 Update

Here is a quick update on the markets we cover from Pro-Recruitment Group's Managing Director, Pat Keogh. It's no surprise that all five of our markets, tax, legal, finance, marketing and HR slowed down earlier this year, but we were really encouraged when we brought everyone back fully in September, there were clear signs and green shoots across all five divisions. It was slightly stunted when we had to go back to a work-from-home strategy, but we are hoping that will lift soon. That said, all markets are still responding well. A lot of organisations are taking the opportunity to obnboard remotely. There are a few clients who are more gung-ho than others, and some a recruiting in serious numbers, which is pleasing to see. On the candidate side, unfortunately there are a lot who are now immediately available, through no fault of thier own, but due to current market conditions. There are plenty of skilled professionals who are immediately available, so its a great time to recruit if that is your strategy. We are producing a monthly market-tracker which will allow us to keep you informed of recruiting trends, covering professionals seeking new roles and opportunities available on the market. Do sign up to receive our newsletters. We haven't seen a single market without an increase, understandably it has been relatively flat market since March, but more recently we are seeing monthly increases in jobs being registered with us, which is very encouraging. The approach we have taken as a business is that we are looking to help kick-start the economy. Of course, whilst balancing the safety of our teams and those around us. We are currently working remotely, whilst allowing those who prefer to safely come into the office the opportunity to do so. This is paramount in us ensuring we are servicing all of our clients and candidates alike. I hope this gives you a bit of an insight into where the market is at. Feel free to pick up the phone to me directly, I am more than happy to share market intel and looking to share this information as regularly as we can. We are always here and our lines of communications are always here to help you with your reruitment needs. For now, stay safe and speak soon!


The Unique Challenges and Rewards of Working in Charity HR

Neither employment law nor candidate’s needs and expectations change from sector to sector, yet working in an HR role for a charity does come with certain challenges specific to the charity and non-profit world. Despite the challenges that come along with HR work in the third sector, there are various rewards including work-life balance, autonomy in your role and job satisfaction which undoubtedly make charity HR a career path worth considering. Our specialist charity and Not-For-Profit recruiters have provided insight into the key challenges and rewards that come with working in a charity HR role.   The Challenges of Charity HR Funding & Resourcing Priorities It is not surprising that funding is one of the key challenges faced by HR professionals in the charity sector. Charities are accountable to their funders and often need to be more transparent than private sector companies, and it is important to make beneficiaries feel confident that their donations are being spent wisely and the charity’s budget is being maximised. With Not-For-Profit organisations often under the spotlight about budget spend on administration and overheads, HR professionals can find themselves having to justify spending charity budget on systems or people-related initiatives. The spending of donations on every job advert, new product, training day or induction may need justifying, and getting the message across that HR initiatives are actually highly cost-effective and will deliver savings for the charity in the long run can be a challenge. Recruitment Some HR professionals find it very easy to fill vacancies within charities, often with people who are passionate about the cause and mission of the charity and who are keen to get involved and make a difference. However, recruiting within the third sector does come with its challenges. Frontline staff, particularly staff or volunteers working with vulnerable individuals or children need to be strictly vetted. Additionally, salaries are generally lower in the charity sector which makes recruiting the right people tricky when the best talent could get higher salaries elsewhere or in the corporate sector, particularly with back-office roles like finance, legal or marketing. The key to overcoming this challenge is to develop a creative approach which focuses on building the charity’s brand and cause and highlighting non-financial benefits like flexible working, good work-life balance, learning and development opportunities, and the chance to make a real contribution. Commercial Drive More and more charities are having to take a more commercial approach in their work and charging for services that may have been previously free. This can lead to unrest among employees, particularly if they feel these changes are counter to their values, and charity HR professionals can find themselves having to work hard to communicate the necessity for commerciality to staff members, to keep up staff morale. Ethical Issues There are pressures on charities to be more transparent than ever regarding their policies and practices. Charity HR staff are faced with the challenge of finding the right balance between fulfilling the charity’s aims and making difficult people-related decisions. In other words, balancing a fair, practical and consistent method for effectively managing employees without compromising the atmosphere of passionate care which is often at the heart of the working environments of many charities. It is also very important that HR policies reflect a charity’s mission. For example, a mental health charity should undoubtedly have an excellent internal support structure and resources available for employees, and a children’s charity should have flexible working opportunities and childcare available for working parents, and policies such as these will need to be drawn out and implemented by the charity’s HR department.   The Rewards of Charity HR Making a Difference Many HR professionals who end up working in the third sector do so because they have a commitment or draw to a particular cause. But regardless of this, working for a non-profit organisation can provide a great sense of job satisfaction and a feeling of making a difference in society, and therefore employees are often people who are very passionate and value-driven - which only makes the day-to-day experience of a charity HR professional an enjoyable and fulfilling one as well. Autonomy & Progression As of October 2018, there were 168,186 registered charities in the UK, and the majority of these organisations aren't able to go out to an agency for HR - everything needs to be done in-house. This means that teams are smaller - you may have a team of 3 or 4 instead of a department of 20 in a larger organisation, which in turn means that an HR charity role involves wearing lots of different hats and taking on a generalist role as opposed to a role focusing on one specialist branch of HR. This grants you autonomy in your role, more opportunity to implement change, and the chance to broaden your experience and skill set as an HR professional, and you may find there is a shorter route to progress within the organisation. Other Benefits Charity roles can sometimes be overlooked by HR professionals but no longer is the charity sector seen as the ‘poor cousin’. In reality, third sector organisations can be equally exciting and fast-paced as the commercial sector and also come with benefits like a better work-life balance and the opportunity to utilise your HR skills and experience in an organisation that is contributing towards a cause you are passionate about.   For more information on this article or to speak to our specialist recruitment consultants about your next HR role in the charity sector, contact Charlotte Dunkerton on 020 7269 6342 or



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