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Charandeep Chana

Turning attrition into attraction: CIOs discuss their talent challenges

By | CIO, Investigo Executive, Latest News, News

Tech surplus, talent shortage

In the digital-first world, CIOs are pivotal in overseeing their organisation’s adoption of new technologies and driving innovation to pave the way for a successful digital future. To deliver your corporate objectives, it’s crucial to have in place the right talent behind the tech.

But finding – and keeping – great people is harder than ever. For the tech leaders who came together at a recent Investigo Executive technology leadership event, one word stood out when discussing their biggest frustrations and challenges: attrition.

They’re not alone. Last year, a survey from Gartner revealed that talent shortages are the biggest barrier to emerging technologies adoption. With new technologies emerging faster than we can count them, it’ll only get harder finding the tech wizards we need to keep us ahead of the curve. Our innovation leaders talked about their attrition challenges in detail and exchanged a few tips for seeking and securing tech talent.

Hybrid working opens (and closes) doors

While hybrid working theoretically gives organisations a wider range of people to choose from, it also means talent has a wider range of employers to choose from. Geographical boundaries don’t count for a lot in the metaphysical world, and the skill sets companies need aren’t always on the digital doorstep. “Companies that offer true flexibility and look beyond their usual hunting ground will win,” said Investigo Executive Director Natalie Whittlesey. “We’re seeing clients offer a ‘work anywhere’ approach, and writing this into contracts as a benefit. You want to work on a beach for a month? Go ahead!”

The art of seduction

It seems the grass is always greener when it comes to career development. While a value retailer based in in the North of England has lost out on talent who can get more money working from home for a big company based in London, other CIOs have seen people lured away by start-up equity.

Several of the leaders who attended the event were still seeing a traditional middle management mindset towards hybrid working; one of, ‘if you’re not seen, you’re not working.’ In recognising that the working world has changed for good, companies need to provide meaningful performance metrics that tie into each individual employee’s ways of working. Hybrid working is only a part of that. “The ability to work remotely doesn’t make your organisation more attractive – it just puts you on the same playing field as your competitors,” said Anna-Marie McGraw, Associate Partner within Investigo Executive’s Interim Practice.

So how can CIOs approach these talent challenges? Here are the key tips our innovation leaders exchanged during the discussion.

David versus Goliath

In a hybrid world we can’t all compete with the biggest global organisations, with their significantly greater profile and resources, but we can stand out in the sphere in which we operate. It’s important to play to your strengths and show what makes you different from the local competition.

This is where an effective employer value proposition (EVP) is so important. What’s good about working for your company? Are you making assumptions about what your employees value about your business, or do you truly know? Are there some common themes, or are a range of things valued depending on the individual? You might be surprised when you actually ask the question.

Engage with your people through pulse surveys and focus groups to understand their specific expectations from an employer, and use their feedback as the basis to provide the things they’re looking for. You can also take an external view and ask your network, or recruitment partners, to tell you how you’re perceived in the market. Talent acquisition experts can support you with your employer branding and show how your people strategy compares to your competitors’.

Lay your pipeline

If the talent isn’t there now, why not indulge in a bit of talent acquisition alchemy? Unearth potential talent. Cultivate it. Nurture it. Interface with local schools, colleges, and universities. Hiring apprentices, hosting career days and sponsoring hackathons are great ways to engage young talent.

To help secure talent for the future, many companies are forming relationships with universities and colleges. “Yes, inexperienced talent may move on once they’ve gained valuable skills, but if your culture is attractive and your company rewards fairly, they just might stay, too,” said Matt Smith, the IN Group’s Chief Revenue Officer.

Nurture your relationships

Always remain on the lookout for good people via your network. Adopting a collaborative approach, and regularly engaging with people in your network, means you’re always learning about what’s going on in your industry, and always front-of-mind for potential talent. So when that one impactful person who can make a massive difference comes onto the market, you’re giving yourself a real chance of being their next destination. It’s this collaborative approach that forms the basis of everything we do at Investigo Executive.

If you’d like to discuss your talent challenges in more detail or you’d like more advice on finding the right tech talent to drive your business forward, please contact Natalie Whittlesey. She’d love to hear from you.

C-Suite Tech Leader Event

By | Events, Latest News, News

We were delighted to hold a C-Suite Tech leader lunch event yesterday at Global‘s wonderful offices in Leicester Square. Presented by David Henderson, Chief Technology and Product Officer for Global, this intimate event discussed how we can put data at the heart of new product development, and gave a group of technology leaders from our network the opportunity to discuss their data journey with their peers.

Many thanks to David for a fascinating discussion, to the Global team for hosting and to those that attended! We’ll be sharing the insights from the roundtable in the very soon, and we very much look forward to hosting our next lunch in September.


Talent Trends Insight 2022

By | Latest News, News

Welcome to our Talent Trends report January 2022.

​Rarely have consecutive years started with such different mindsets. 2021 may have begun with uncertainty, but it ended up being an extremely positive year for our industry and for the Investigo Group – in fact, our best ever year.

​As we begin 2022, the market has returned with a vengeance and the demand from our clients has dramatically increased. If our focus a year ago was on how we could continue to adapt and embed the lessons of the pandemic, our thoughts now turn to growth and to how else we can support our clients to give them the best chance of success.

​In fact, it’s been such a positive year that career transience has become increasingly common. We’re already in the midst of the Great Resignation, with the UK experiencing the highest quit rate since the financial crisis. For organisations across the market, this presents both challenges – not least in standing out to potential new talent and keeping the talent they already have – but opportunities.

​After virtually two full years of widespread remote working, we’re more often than not remembering to unmute ourselves before speaking on those Microsoft Teams calls. But being more accustomed to a new mode of communication doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re connecting. After all, we each have different preferred methods and frequencies of communicating and it’s important that business leaders get to know their people’s preferences on an individual basis, enriching their working relationships with a touch of old school connection.

​Never is it more important to connect with your people than in your approach to DEI. In an area that changes all the time – this time last year many of us would have referred to it as D&I – you must never stop talking and never stop learning. Increasing their diversity will continue to be at the forefront of organisations’ thinking, but this must not be at the expense of inclusion. You can have the most diverse, representative workforce in the world, but if your people don’t all have the opportunity and the support to participate and achieve, then you’re wasting your time. Before you can understand what kind of policies you need to have in place, you first need to understand yourself. Last year, we conducted a “who we are” survey of our staff to better understand our people and their needs. The results of this survey will help to form the basis of our approach to DEI in the future, both internally and externally.

​Environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) have never been more prominent in corporate thinking, but too many companies are still struggling to raise these issues with the board in any meaningful way. By reframing ESG in a way that emphasises its importance to your everyday business operations, you can bring about the required focus, funding or policy change. Once again, connection is key. This is something we all need to do together, both within our business – sustainability specialists working with finance, marketing, senior leadership and any other interested parties – and at an organisational level. The time of siloed thinking is over.

​Our Talent Trends report features expert insights and practical tips on each of these key trends – career transience, the changing focus of communication, DEI and ESG – and a lot more besides, including market updates on each of our specialisms. Many thanks to everyone who offered their insight and expertise.

​We hope that you’ll find this report useful and if you’d like to discuss any of the insights raised, or to talk to one of our experts in more detail about how these trends will affect the talent in your business, please contact us.

Nick Baxter | Investigo Chief Executive Officer

Talent Trends January 2022

making accurate status determinations

Making accurate status determinations

By | ir35, Latest News, News

Within article 1 in our series of articles to help you check your process and management of IR35, we reported that both the DWP and HM Courts & Tribunals Service received large fines and penalties for issuing incorrect IR35 determinations.

It is understood that both organisations were utilising the tool – CEST – for making the IR35 determinations, but were still unfortunately making incorrect determinations. Does this mean the CEST tool is not fit for purpose? Not necessarily. It could also be that the responses given by end users to the questions raised by the CEST tool were inaccurate. Remember it is important to respond to the questions on the basis of fact (what is actually happening) as opposed to aspiration. In article 3 of this series, we explore this further.

The Check Employment Status for Tax tool, better known as CEST, was introduced during the public sector reforms back in 2017. Those who have worked with CEST for many years will be well aware of the changes and updates it has undergone, as well as the large amounts of criticism it has received. So with this in mind why would we utilise CEST as the best approach for making an IR35 determination?

Well let’s be honest: (1) It’s built by HMRC so surely they should know their own legislation; (2) it states that HMRC will stand by this result should it be a true and accurate representation of the engagement; and (3) it’s free to use! So I think it’s fair to say that CEST is here to stay and will be adopted by many organisations.

Our approach is that we would recommend the use of CEST in making determinations, but it should not be solely relied upon. Having an accurate view of each contractor engagement to make the determination is vital. Secondly, when making the determination, ensure that when you take into account the contractual terms, you focus primarily on the ACTUAL working practices on the ground.

What about 3rd party status determinations and insurance practices? There are many organisations offering these types of advice and services and at Investigo, we have built up a number of relationships with those whose services we have assessed and believe to be fit for purpose. They can provide helpful insight and additional levels of understanding, informed advice and ensure a ‘belt-and-braces’ approach to IR35 determinations.

In our opinion, with the right process, governance and methodology, these organisations can be utilised as a sanity and reference check to help ensure your practices and decisions are aligned to the legislation and also to audit your determinations. It is certainly worth considering the services of such a third party for some of the more nuanced determinations. The insurance packages, I’m still to be convinced by. If an engagement is outside at the start, and it remains outside throughout its duration, then what do you need the insurance for? I understand the drive for this, especially from a risk perspective, knowing you have accurate determinations but also knowing you have insurance that covers you should HMRC disagree with a determination.

So in conclusion, use CEST, make sure that it’s an accurate reflection of both the contractual terms and working practices (and not what you think they could be!) and periodically sanity check a sample of your determinations with a reputable third party to ensure this represents your interpretation of the legislation. Oh, and don’t forget to store the evidence for when your favourite tax person comes knocking…


HMRC are coming. Are you ready?

By | ir35, Latest News, News

​In September HMRC started to contact organisations to begin to understand how end users are engaging with contractors and applying the off-payroll rules for IR35.

A template of the HMRC letter shows that they are looking to understand:

  • The process being adopted to hire contractors working through their own intermediaries –Personal Service Companies (PSCs) – either directly or via a labour provider such as an employment business;
  • The process used for determining the IR35 employment status of the working arrangements in question; and
  • The process for deciding if any outsourced services are indeed fully contracted out or are a supply of staffing services by another name.

Within their letter, HMRC then explain what they do once they have decided whether your systems and processes are suitable for the correct application of the rules and whether they believe more tax is owed / any interest is due on the tax owed.

It’s worth noting that HMRC launched IR35 with a ‘soft-landing,’ stating that any fines would not be applied within the first 12 months of the new legislation being implemented. However, it’s also worth noting HMRC still expects the rules to be followed and the correct tax to be accounted for. And with six months already lapsed, the 12-month window is quickly evaporating. Therefore our advice to end-users is to double check your own processes are fit for purpose and act now to make sure those processes are properly documented. Your records should provide a clear audit trail of those processes and the decisions made in relation to IR35 so that you are prepared should one of these letters land on your doormat.

Getting prepared

We have extensive experience of implementing IR35 management frameworks that allow you to make individual, case by case determinations for all contractor engagements. The silver bullet for IR35 isn’t SOW, it’s knowing IR35 and managing a framework for true and accurate determinations to be made for all contingent worker engagements where an IR35 determination is appropriate.

Ensure you have:

  • An approved methodology for making the IR35 determinations where appropriate. There’s a lot of criticism of the CEST tool (Check employment status for tax – GOV.UK ( and in our opinion it should be used as a guide to help build the evidence of a determination but should not be solely relied upon;
  • A solid and robust process to assess, review and govern all contingent workforce engagements on an individual basis;
  • Created a working practices policy to help the teams on the ground understand how to work with outside IR35 contractors. It’s important to remember that in IR35, actual working practices supersede contractual terms;
  • Developed individual services descriptions for every engagement where the working practices fall outside IR35 – and make sure you have a process to keep these under review so that they remain relevant at any subsequent extension point. Don’t forget about a change request process should the deliverables need to change mid-contract due to business demand;
  • Terms of engagement for both ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ arrangements – whether directly with contractors or with service or labour providers – getting the right contractor on the right contract. e.g. PAYE, umbrella, PSC;
  • Education and training for all hiring managers – it’s really important to keep the knowledge and education fresh for all. It’s easy to slip back into poor practices;
  • Evidence of all IR35 determinations made – having all the contracts, status determinations and supporting evidence stored in one place which can be audited and assessed will certainly be a benefit;
  • Finally – seek independent advice. We would recommend you build your own capability but getting this verified with a third party will help to ensure you keep up to date with the changing legislation, especially as case law is released and introduced.

If you are concerned with the methods and processes you use to govern and manage your contingent workforce then feel free to contact us.

Our next article will be based on making the status determination and whether we can be safe relying on a CEST determination.


IR35: was it a storm in a teacup…or is the storm still coming?

By | ir35, Latest News, News

​Six months ago IR35 reform was made across the private sector. And similar to GDPR in February and March this year we had a lot of noise with agencies, end users and contractors all working hard to be compliant for the 5th April 2021 deadline. While this all seemed to go quiet over the summer, those paying closer attention to the IR35 world would have found that quite a lot has happened.

Six-month timeline:

So what does this tell us?

IR35 is a very technical subject with lots of intricacy and details. Understanding all of the case law and interpretations of legislation requires a doctorate in itself, so it’s easy to understand why people may shy away or delegate decisions.

However, with the market BOOMING – APSCo reporting a 17% month-on-month rise in contractor recruitment in September – are end-client organisations getting the best available skills? Is IR35 still hampering your efforts? Are you putting yourself at even more risk by heading into an unsuitable SOW arrangement for resource? With the rush to making determinations have many organisations lost sight, or even control of their IR35 process as it’s transitioned into BAU?

​At Investigo Group we want to help our clients get this right. Support our clients with making the right and most compliant decision.

So over the coming weeks we’re releasing a series of articles designed for talent communities to help them understand, demystify and sanity check their process and management adoption for IR35.

Watch this space for more to come but please contact us should you be concerned about your IR35 process!

talent trends

Talent Trends Insight 2021

By | Insight, Latest News

If uncertainty characterised much of last year, this year has been characterised by optimism. The rapid rollout of the vaccine, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of more sectors of the economy have spurred a marked increase in hiring activity, according to the latest UK Report on Jobs survey compiled by HIS Markit on behalf of KPMG and REC.

In May, permanent staff appointments rose at a record pace and demand for workers increased at the fastest rate for over two decades. At the same time, a fall in staff availability has contributed to increases in pay. A year ago, many professionals would have been concerned about job security in a time rife with uncertainty, redundancies and furloughs. Now, they can almost take their pick.

This reversal in the supply and demand dynamic presents us with a different kind of challenge. While professionals are in high demand, employers are finding it harder getting hold of the right talent. As recruiters, our job is therefore not only to help organisations find the people they need, but to provide them with the tools to manage their future talent.

A key focus for organisations in the second half of 2021 has been on successfully creating talent pipelines. When the talent isn’t necessarily ready-made, the onus is on employers to grow and cultivate it. It’s all about nurturing your people, providing relevant training and speaking to them regularly to give them the confidence that they can take that next step. At the same time, employers need to have confidence in their young talent, presenting them with opportunities they can grow into rather than waiting until they tick all the right experiential boxes. The Apprenticeship Levy helps by funding apprenticeship training for all employers, and any unspent funds can be utilised to upskill and train your existing team.

Diversity will be a crucial consideration in talent pipelining, and it’s important that organisations work closely with their recruitment partners to produce diverse shortlists containing people from all walks of life. At the same time, employers must remember that what constitutes ‘diversity’ will differ from one organisation to another. You need to have an inclusive culture in place to allow for effective pipelining, otherwise the talent you bring in won’t have the opportunity to make an impact.

For some time now, it seems like we’ve been talking about the challenge of hybrid working and how best to manage, monitor and motivate a workforce spread across physical and non-physical locations. As we return to work, that challenge will at last become very real. Will your organisation return to the physical office and if so, how will you manage that return? Will you offer your employees a mixture of office and remote work, and on what basis will you decide when people should be in the office? How will you ensure all your employees – whether remote or otherwise – feel included in that process? How will you continue to keep your workforce motivated and engaged?

​Our report features expert insights on the key trends affecting the market right now, including hybrid working, D&I talent pipelining, future-proofing your talent strategy and candidate experience, as well as market updates on each of our specialisms.

​We hope that you’ll find this report useful and a big thank you to all our contributors. If you’d like to talk to us about any of the insights in this study, or you’d like a more detailed discussion about how these trends will affect the talent in your business, please contact us.

Read Investigo Talent Trends Insight