Is the Southwest employment market in recovery? King Recruit is committed to bringing you the results from around the region across multiple sectors.

2020 has been an uncertain year for businesses and the impact has been devastating for many. That being said, there are a vast number of businesses who have survived and even thrived by pivoting their products or services

and offering up what consumers are currently craving.

Hopeful as ever, we wanted to find out if our clients believe the Southwest employment market is in fact, recovering.

The results are encouraging…..

Hiring new starters:

A whopping 68% of businesses surveyed said they are still hiring, compared to 18% who have put hiring on hold.


When asked what percentage of their workforce has been made redundant, the highest figure reported was 5%. And of those having been made redundant, the salary bracket was £30k+ in most cases.


Among the answers for which skills will be a priority for hiring in 2021, customer focussed answers were most common, including communication, ‘get stuck in’ mentality, business development, sales, interpersonal skills, and client delivery.

Other skills reported as a priority were creative design, digital marketing, engineering, data analysis, marketing, publishing, construction, and international trade.

Current workforce priorities:

Encouragingly, 59% reported prioritising hiring new people as a result of growth, and a further 59% are also up-skilling and cross-skilling the workforce. 14% selected hiring due to reorganisation or redundancies and 36% are including succession planning as a priority. Just 5% reported they would prioritise hiring new leaders.

Business performance:

We’re delighted to hear that 36% of those surveyed had done better than predicted despite the crisis and 27% had done as forecasted or were on track to make a profit. 18% said cashflow is tight but we’ve survived. 5% remained the same having neither having grown nor contracted and only 5% said they were concerned about 2021. Sadly, 9% reported a loss, however, that is encouraging to hear when paired with the other results.

Workforce morale:

Times have been tough for everyone, in one way or another and the assumption may be that employees have become demotivated or that there has been a marked decrease in productivity. The results show this isn’t the case, with 27% reporting their workforce to be highly motivated and engaged, going over and above the call of duty (50%) or comfortable with the new norm (55%). Only 5% reported a workforce where motivation and work rate could be improved or a team requiring tighter management and coaching due to working from home. 14% said their workforce would rather return to the office than work from home.

Having asked, “What is your business perspective on the outlook for 2021 and what advice, if any would you give to other business owners or business leaders in the South West?” we were provided with some great answers.

“Survive this time and learn from it to thrive in the future”

“Adapt and overcome”

“Change brings opportunity. Focus on the positives and be brave. We’ve rebranded, expanded, pivoted to key digital areas and focused our offering right into building digital communities for tech and infrastructure brands.”

“Good opportunities for smaller companies to take a lead over their larger competitors due to being quicker to react and with fewer overheads”

“We have a positive outlook for growth in 2021 although we recognise there will still be challenges ahead”

‘’Cautiously optimistic, but plenty of challenges ahead. Brexit is looming alongside the continued pandemic challenges is a concern. It’s been a time to take a good look at the business and adapt around the changes, which has brought new opportunities. We, and probably all businesses, need to be adaptable’’

“2021 is likely to be heavily disrupted. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a complete write-off, however, it does mean that we will need to challenge ourselves more than ever before; more creative, more agile and hungrier to succeed.”


We would like to thank all of the businesses who took part in the survey which gathered data from businesses across the South West and across a range of sectors, including: engineering, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, manufacturing, IT technology, marketing, financial services, grocery retail/wholesale, commercial property, construction, recruitment, insurance, publishing/media, software, contact centre performance improvement specialists, and B2B membership organisation.



King Recruit is an independently minded recruitment and search agency, covering Exeter and the whole of the South West. For ambitious companies and professionals alike – the core of our mission is to help drive your success.

If you’d like to speak to King Recruit by video or telephone interview advice, please call us on 01392 790725 or email to arrange a convenient time.

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