When I originally planned to write this blog post looking back on 2021, I have to admit I thought things would be a bit more positive. But the discovery and spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has put us all on the back foot a bit as we head into the festive season. But there have been some positive developments this year so it’s still worth reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come.

New year, new vaccines

The year started with hope as the incredible effort by the NHS to get us all vaccinated started. Down here in Cornwall, it was as efficient as in much of the rest of the country and soon we were discussing Pfizer or Astra Zeneca, sharing stories of side effects and proudly holding our vaccination cards.

As we now know, many of us have now had or are about to receive our booster dose of the vaccine and so we end the year and begin 2022 once again in the midst of a vaccination drive.

Continuation of Furlough

As we described in our September blog which you can read here, we started 2021 with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in place and planned to end in March, then April and finally being extended until September.

Managing payroll schemes that were part of the CJRS has undoubtedly been one of my biggest challenges this year especially with those employers who chose to run under flexible furlough, but it has also been gratifying to be able to help my clients through extraordinary times. Businesses have survived and household incomes have been retained thanks to CJRS and so are in a better place than they might have been as we close the year.

I was also anticipating having to handle quite a few redundancy situations as the furlough scheme started to taper and finally came to an end in September but thankfully that hasn’t been the case so far.

Emerging from lockdown

Another significant impact of the pandemic for me this year has been supporting employers as their businesses reopened as we progressed along the road map out of lockdown.

For some, that meant bringing employees back off furlough and for others, it meant recruiting and training new team members. In the end, the final stage of lifting lockdown was delayed for four weeks but it ended just in time for us to have an incredible summer here in Cornwall – it was so busy and payroll preparation was non-stop! Yes there were a few traffic jams but it was good to see my hospitality clients busy again.

The Great Resignation

That’s quite a big fancy title for what, on the ground, is a simple case of extreme staff shortages. Hospitality has been particularly hard hit but many other industries such as construction and healthcare have had problems recruiting staff.

There are a number of factors at play, but some have attributed it to people using the lockdown to reassess their lives and choose a change of direction. The ONS reported this week that unemployment is down to 4.3% and there are a total of 1.22m job vacancies currently available. In November, 257,000 people were added to payrolls in the UK which certainly reflects how busy I’ve been with adding new staff to payroll schemes and preparing contracts of employment.

With such a tricky recruitment environment,  we dedicated our July blog to best recruitment practice which you can read here.

2021 for Pixie Payroll

As I mentioned before, there’s no doubt that 2021 has been another busy and challenging year for me as I’ve supported employers and employees through another year of the pandemic.

I have been very pleased to have added to my client base this year and it’s been so good to meet new clients and manage new payroll schemes. On a personal level, 2021 has also been an exciting year for our family as we welcomed my new grandson Oliver in August.

So as the festive season is nearly here, I’d like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for 2022.