Just Can't Get the Staff - The Great Resignation of 2021

While the causes might still be up for a bit of heated debate, there’s no doubt that we’re facing an acute skills and worker shortage which is threatening the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic. With job vacancies across all sectors being at their highest level since records began in 2001, we look at what’s happening and why.

What on earth is going on?

Just as many industries are ramping up their labour needs as we head into the festive season; employers say that they are experiencing extreme skills shortages and struggling to fill roles. Having already faced petrol shortages (due in part to a lack of drivers), bare shelves in supermarkets are also becoming an increasingly common sight for consumers.

British farmers are also reported to be reducing production for next year, having this year thrown “an unprecedented amount” of food into landfill, due to the lack of workers required to harvest and process the food.

But it’s not just food supply and drivers that are struggling. A recent survey by the British Chamber of Commerce suggests that there are also extreme labour shortages in hospitality, catering, manufacturing, and warehouse staff.

But even if we can get back on track in the short term, the labour shortages we are facing now will have repercussions into next year and beyond, as industry attempts to bring balance back into labour supply and demand.

Where have all the workers gone?

Regardless of which political side of the fence you sit, Brexit and the pandemic have clearly created the perfect conditions for a national labour shortage.

A recent ONS survey estimates that more than a million foreign born people have left the UK in the last year, whether due to the tighter immigration rules imposed by Brexit or the pandemic. And while industries are placing pressure on the government to bring in emergency measures to allow and attract more workers to come back, either temporarily or permanently, the government has yet to announce any changes to policy.

“The Great Resignation”

As well as Brexit, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to make people rethink their life choices. Being hailed as “The Great Resignation”, 791,000 people swapped jobs between April and June this year alone, the highest level in over ten years. Whether due to wanting a slower or more relaxed pace of life or looking for a career which better aligns with their values, people are less concerned about job security than ever before. And as rows over pay and conditions in several sectors continue, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain staff.

But despite the lack of workers, demand for labour is continuing to rise. 80% of businesses report that they intend to hire more staff in the next 12 months, many of whom are turning to temporary workers to fill skills gaps. And as we head into the winter months, and the possibility of the government “Plan B” on the horizon, remote working will continue to feature heavily in the employment equation.

How can we prepare ourselves?

While no one could have been fully prepared for the impact of the pandemic, it has taught us that we all need to do our best to plan for our future needs, so that we can continue to meet our business goals and thrive despite the uncertainty.

JMK offers a useful forecaster tool which will help you predict your next 12 months of turnover, gross profit, cash flow, the number of contractors required to reach your goals, cost of sale, VAT, and contractor pay.

This vital information will help you plan for a successful future for your business and will help alleviate some of the pressure of operating, and recruiting, in this uncertain climate.

JMK are here to support you, talk to us today about how we can help.


Since 2002, JMK have been compliantly consolidating back-office, accountancy and payroll functions. 

We have evolved to provide a range of expert services; such as Back Office Support (BOS) or Funding, becoming a leading provider to the contracting industry.

We know every agency is different in some shape or form, even if only by a little, but important bit. Combining our knowledge and experience of multiple sectors enables JMK to support you all from recruiters and payroll, through to finance, compliance and management.

With JMK as your trusted partner, even the smallest team can process the largest payroll, regardless of payroll type.

Have a look at the wide range of services our Back Office Support (BOS) or Funding can provide to you and your business, it is far more than just payroll and finance.

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