UK Recruitment Index 2016

Riding the waves

Key findings

  • 79% of recruitment firms reported an increasing net fee income – the second highest since 2013. However, the proportion of businesses reporting static income has also increased from a year ago, suggesting the pace of growth is slowing down.
  • ONS reports a 14% increase in the number of recruitment businesses between 2014 and 2015, highlighting the perception that strong demand for talent is attracting new businesses into the market.
  • The main issue impacting the growth of the UK recruitment businesses has remained access to talent with 61% of respondents citing increasing headcount as their main challenge.
  • Demand for talent was very strong in London where 72% of recruitment businesses in London rated demand for talent as strong or very strong. Other UK regions with relatively strong demand included the South East, West Midlands and the North West.
  • Churn is impacting productivity in the recruitment sector.
  • External factors such as Brexit, technology and broader talent trends are likely to create some opportunities for recruitment firms and those that convert these into business successes are the ones that are likely to ‘ride the waves’ and grow in the long term

The full report, including the full suite of questions and analysis, is available to survey participants only. For further information, or to express interest to participate in next year’s survey, please email

About the Index

Now in its fourth year The UK Recruitment Index provides a highly regarded source of financial and operational metrics that enable recruitment companies to measure and benchmark themselves against industry averages.  

The 2016 results indicate overall continued growth in the UK recruitment sector. While the majority of recruitment firms report increasing net fee income, the pace of growth seems to have slowed as more businesses report static income. 

This year we have broadened our analysis to provide insight into talent and the issues affecting demand for it.  This year’s survey shows that the demand for talent was strong in 2015. And, in the first half of 2016, prior to the UK referendum on EU membership, recruiters expected the appetite to invest in talent to remain robust. However, since the UK voted to leave the EU on 23rd June the extent to which businesses continue to invest in talent remains uncertain.  

With the external environment changing, companies must innovate and convert these changing conditions to business successes to ‘ride the waves’ and continue to grow in the long term. 

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