Is it an employee or employer marketplace?
HR Grapevine looks at job market indicators to reveal some of the complexities which could indicate that the jobs market isn’t so simply understood as first appears
The employment landscape has always undulated between periods of high employment and lower employment. This usually dictates competition for certain positions as well as the benefits and perks that a company might offer. For instance, if it is considered to be a time of high employment with certain skillsets in high demand, employers are likely to attempt to sway candidates with in-office baristas, excellent pension offerings and a wellness offering that would make professional personal trainers gawp. This would be referred to as an employee or candidates market.
However, with unemployment rising - measured up to September, ONS figures state that nearly three million people are currently claiming benefits for being out of work; a rise of nearly 120 – many experts are suggesting that the current jobs market is an employer’s one, with organisations able to get the pick of talent they want. If this is so, this might lower what potential and current employees are offered in terms of work contracts, remuneration, benefits packages, as well as change unsaid expectations upon them regards working hours.
Yet, is this as simple as it seems. Whilst post-2008 recession the above scenario played out, according to Harvard Business Review this current jobs market is still dynamic. Whilst many jobs are disappearing – consider the impact the coronavirus economy has had on aviation, hospitality, and travel – there are many other jobs reappearing. Yet, its not all good news. With the initial furlough scheme having just ended, many commentators are predicted payroll numbers to drop further than they already have, a number estimated to be circa 750,000 before furlough ended. With 3million people still on this scheme in August, the end could prove to be another dip, giving employers even more talent to choose from.
However, the market is always more complex than its topline. Below HR Grapevine has considered several different areas to help HR better understand what type of employment landscape this currently is.
1. Not all industries may be an employer’s market
Job loss headlines seem to be coming from the same sectors. Retail, hospitality and aviation most affected. In fact, it is the arts, entertainment and recreation industries that seem to be bearing the brunt of this economic downturn, with almost 30% of workers in these sectors still on full furlough, according to ONS Business Impact of Coronavirus survey.
2. Brand and ‘not taking your eye off the ball’
Whilst many might take job loss figures as an indication that they can cut their costs with employees and future recruits, some experts are suggesting this could impact how attractive they are to employees in the long term.
Jonny Gifford, Senior Research Advisor at CIPD, said: “The pace of change has been such that many employers are, understandably, still playing catch up on basic arrangements for employment and health and safety. But they should not take their eye off longer-term issue of job quality or good work. For good or for ill, how they treat employees at these precarious and unsettling times may be remembered for a long time.”
The implication here being that candidates still have certain sway, as employers need to be wary of their brand in the marketplace so they can continue to have a healthy pipeline in the future.
Evidencing this ethos, Jennifer Ward, Halma’s Group Talent and Communications Director, added that firms that want to keep and attract the best talent - especially a diverse array of talent - will have to deliver what employees want, expectations changed by a pandemic. She said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced radical changes in our working lives. Expectations of flexibility among employers and employees alike have shifted – perhaps permanently – and will be more crucial than ever before in attracting and retaining talent. As mothers and fathers have had to learn new ways to juggle work and home demands during this time, it is important that employers also signal that they regard parental rights as applying equally."
3. Reward packages for in-demand talent is not dropping
For certain skillsets, reward packages aren’t dropping suggesting that, in some areas, it is still a candidate’s marketplace. Yinka Opaneye, HRD at GameAnalytics, states that he has found that top whack is still being paid for those with the skills firms need to steer through this crisis (something which Josh Bersin blogged about at the start of the pandemic, suggesting it is skilled people that organisations will need to seek out as they navigate this period of disruption and change).
Opaneye said: “The market for talent as a whole has certainly been made more dynamic as a result of the redundancies. However, for the most critical or hard-to-fill positions in engineering, software development or data science, there has been little change in the market. Those let go have easily found themselves in new roles.
“I have also reached out to several independent Recruiters and agencies about this and they have not witnessed any dip in total reward packages for tech professionals either.”