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Recruiter Hays delivers record quarter as 'war for talent' rages on

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By Amna Karimi and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) -Employers are having to offer more flexible working and competitive pay packages or risk people changing jobs as the war for talent rages on, global recruiter Hays Plc said on Thursday, after a record quarter driven by permanent hires.

London's biggest publicly listed recruiter, which operates in 33 countries and focuses on white-collar jobs, joined peers PageGroup and Robert Walters in forecasting strong annual profits that would exceed market expectations.

"The drive for people to work predominantly from home over the last couple of years has also weakened the cultural buy-in from those employees to their company," Finance Director Paul Venables told Reuters.

"And that's one of the reasons we'll see more people starting to look to change jobs."

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, but as restrictions ease, some employers are bringing staff back to offices in one form or another as they adopt hybrid working models.

"It is too early to quantify how the Omicron variant will impact our New Year 'return to work' trends, which as usual will be a key driver of second-half performance," Chief Executive Alistair Cox said in a statement.

With wage inflation and staff shortages due to international travel restrictions, companies understand they have to offer flexible working and very competitive packages, Venables added.

Hays' net fees surged 32% in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a 16% fall in the same period of the prior year.

The British company expects its operating profit to come in at 200 million pounds ($274 million) for the year through June 30, 2022. Analysts on average had estimated profit of 184.6 million pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus.

At 1150 GMT, Hays' shares were up 1.3% at 153.8 pence.

($1 = 0.7287 pounds)

(Reporting by Amna Karimi and Yadarisa Shabong in BengaluruEditing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Mark Potter)

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