COVID not only changed the way we work, but it also altered the balance of power in the workplace.
In sync with the adoption of new technology, reduced travel, and shift in working models, one of the more surprising differences, as we came out of the epidemic, was a reversal of control in the workplace and, in particular, the recruitment market.
Following a low period for new vacancies, millions of people around the globe suddenly chose to reassess their priorities and, in many cases left their current roles in search of a better work-life balance. Simultaneously, firms began expanding quickly and, in an instant, power transferred from employers to employees.
With savvy leaders responding quickly to protect key recruits, they inadvertently opened an opportunity for people to strengthen their position at work by negotiating salary increases and more flexibility for their roles.
Without people to fill the rising vacancies, it meant that skilled workers could enjoy a position of power as they knew they could look elsewhere and quickly find someone willing to offer what they want.
The impact of the downturn
Fast forward to today, and as inflation soars and the cost-of-living rises, in real terms, many people are facing the equivalent of a pay cut.
Regrettably, the economic downturn is also pushing some firms toward redundancies as they restructure in the aftermath of rapid expansion. This has shifted the equilibrium of power back toward businesses.
As employers tighten their belts, several global companies are already flexing their newfound confidence by requesting to bring employees back into the office environment daily, which is a brave and significant cultural shift.
All things are not equal
If history is anything to go by, the impact of power moving back to employers will not be the same for everyone.
In the face of a global recession, typically it is lower-skilled roles or people starting out in their careers that are the hardest hit. As good jobs become trickier to find, experience takes over and becomes ever more important.
In contrast, where there remains an acute shortage of skills, competition for the best people will continue with top talent holding all the cards. That means in professional industries like practice accountancy, employees are likely to maintain a wide choice of roles and enjoy the opportunity to seek higher salaries and improved benefits.
What does it mean to you?
When the balance of power lies with employers, in general, the consequences will be unequal. Some workers will keep the flexibility and benefits they gained during COVID, while others will have to accept whatever their employer offers.
Whether this culminates in a return to pre-pandemic working conditions, I am not sure, as some of the changes made during that time will be difficult to reverse and motivationally detrimental.
If you are an employee currently at the grace of your employer, however, now might be a good time to consider returning to the office voluntarily. Creating closer bonds and spending more time face-to-face with your colleagues could be an important step toward feeling continually secure in your job and progressing during challenging times.
As an employer, if budgets are tight, it is greater flexibility that will soon become your key battleground for talent. Companies that remain conscious of employees’ needs will be the most successful at retaining and attracting talent so, even if you have the desire to reduce workplace flexibility, I suggest you are very careful when you approach it. The wider implications of being too aggressive are significant.
In the end, the best piece of advice I can offer is to try and find time to think about how you feel. What – apart from money – would attract you to join a company? Why would you stay with one? By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes you will make smarter decisions, and that is the best way to succeed.
Almost one in every five workers (18%) believe they are “extremely likely” to change their employer within the next 12 months.
According to a survey of more than 2,000 people from various industries, 32% also acknowledged they were “moderately” or “slightly likely” to make a switch, suggesting half of UK employees are actively considering their future.
That is a sobering thought for business leaders at a time when we are witnessing a growing number of new job opportunities together with chronic skills shortages and a lack of candidates with relevant experience.
It is a dangerous mix and one that has been driving fierce competition and applying pressure to the labour market to the point where accomplished people regularly receive multiple job offers and, in a bid to influence their decision, remarkably high starting salaries.
The paradox of an unavoidable market consequence is, however, that in return for continued dedication, existing team members are subject to soaring inflation and cost of living increases that comfortably outstrip their salary growth. So, can we blame them for being tempted by the opportunity to make more money elsewhere in a similar role?
In many ways, a move appears to have no risks, but I would offer a note of caution to anyone whose main motivation for change is an “increase in pay”.
While salary will always influence, in my experience, it will not always help you make the right decision. Other factors should be considered, factors that if ignored may mean you miss something worth a lot more than money.
REMEMBER WHY YOU WANTED TO CHANGE.
When faced with a dilemma, take yourself back to the original reasons you began your job search. Amongst the flattery of an offer, these reasons can be overlooked but remain critical to being happy now and in future.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER?
Before any move, take a step back and think carefully about the big picture. The decision you make will influence your direction of travel and your ability to progress in the future. The best way to do this is to forget about the salary and base your choice on the role, company, and potential for development.
CALCULATE THE REAL FINANCIAL IMPACT.
If you are fortunate enough to have multiple job offers, keep in mind your current salary, and calculate the impact any financial increase will bring after tax and over 12 months. Often, the difference is not as large as it seems and may help with your decision.
WILL YOU RECEIVE TRAINING AND SUPPORT?
To keep evolving you need to keep your skills fresh, but this does not necessarily mean a study support package – although that will factor into your decision-making. Think about day-to-day training. Is there mentor support available? Will your role develop new skills that move you closer to your end goal? And does the company have the resources to support that?
HOW FLEXIBLE IS THE ROLE?
A healthy work-life balance is important and being able to work from home or mix your time between home and the office may be a priority for you. Whatever you prefer, make sure the company matches your favoured working pattern and expectations.
DO YOUR VALUES MATCH?
A pay rise may lure you in but to stay engaged you need to be enthusiastic about the company’s vision and purpose, and how your role fits into that. Ask yourself whether you are interested in what the organisation does, whether you align with its purpose, or are simply being tempted by the money.
Ultimately, the choice is yours but whatever you decide, you will be spending a lot of time in this organisation. If you are unhappy, it will have a significant impact on your work and general wellbeing, so be sure you are moving to a place that satisfies the reasons you wanted to move in the long term.
The job market has endured a lot of upheaval in the past two years but, for now, it is being firmly driven by candidate availability.
In the world of accountancy, there are far more opportunities in Public Practice than people who are looking for a new challenge.
It is fabulous news for ambitious, skilled professionals who can present themselves well. They have a pick of fantastic positions, and a new job offer is never far away, but this can also become a slightly double-edged sword.
After 20 years working in the North East recruitment market, right now, when a good candidate reaches out to me and is sure they want to move, quite often I can help them to secure a job offer within a matter of days. And for many, this is far too fast.
From the time they decided to start looking to when they receive the offer, they haven’t had the time to feel like they have explored their options properly and, while I would only put them forward for something I think fits with what it is they said they wanted, moving jobs is a big decision and they need to be sure the offer is the right one for them.
When speaking to people about this, I always ask them to consider several different elements before making their decision:
1. Firstly, take a moment to make sure you have enough information to be able to make a choice. Have you researched the company thoroughly? Did you ask all of the questions you wanted to at the interview? Once a role has been offered, don’t be afraid to ask for further information. You could even arrange to go into the office for a tour so you can get a feel for the place and culture. At this stage, you are in the driving seat, so do whatever it takes to give you the peace of mind you need.
2. Be honest with yourself and discuss any doubts you have, however small they seem, with the business, your recruiter, or family and friends.
3. Once you have an offer, go back to your original reasons for leaving your current role. Consider carefully whether you are satisfied that the new job and business is going to meet your objectives.
4. It is very easy to get carried away with the financials. A great offer may sway your decision making, but try to remember that salaries can change, especially if you are in the right company and doing a good job.
5. Think about the long-term. Do you want progression and if so, is there a path in place for you? What is it that you ultimately want to achieve, and how will having this experience on your CV influence your options in three to five years?
6. Try not to be too influenced by emotions. You must put yourself at the centre of the decision-making process and think practically, as the impact of your happiness at work has an enormous bearing on so much of your life.
7. We all have the best of intentions when it comes to work-life balance but will the new role give you the balance you want? If not, do the benefits outweigh the sacrifice?
8. A little compromise can sometimes be okay, providing that it aligns with your bigger picture and goals. This is particularly useful to remember if you are considering a number of different offers at once.
Above all else, a new career move should excite you. That’s why I would also say don’t be afraid to listen to your gut a little too. You know yourself better than anyone so, if it feels right deep down, and the rational analysis checks out, then it’s time to make the change.
Millions of people around the world are re-evaluating their working lives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commonly known as the ‘Great Resignation’, this growing movement of reflection continues to drive record numbers of workers to voluntarily head for the door and join a job market brim-full of labour shortages and rising unemployment.
Should I stay or go?
Many different inspirations can trigger the search for a new job. When compiled by the pressures of a global epidemic, permanent changes to working environments, or even a new appreciation for the ephemeral nature of life, it is no surprise to see so many people reassessing their situation.
Like most things, jobs have ups and downs and, while it is easy to get swept along in a sea of change, here are some thoughts to help you to decide whether it’s the right time to make a change, or not.
- Know your purpose.
Whatever the catalyst for change, when working out the best way forward, the most important thing to do is to make sure you understand what it is that truly motivates you.
We spend more than half our waking life at work, so getting satisfaction should be the priority. If you aren’t happy then maybe it is time to weigh up your options.
- Be honest with yourself.
Start by asking yourself questions along the lines of What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What do you like about your current job? What is important to you?
You need to work out what matters most in the long-term and, if you’re lucky enough to match this with your strengths, it should become a lot easier to figure out the direction to your goals.
- People grow out of even the best jobs.
Sometimes you need a change or a new challenge to reinvigorate yourself, but before you begin to search, make sure you take time to think about your current role, your employer, and your prospects.
Does your company’s ambition match your own? Do you get on with your colleagues? What does your boss think of you? What do you think of your boss?
There’s a lot to be said for being appreciated and trusted in the workplace. If you feel empowered and have autonomy, you need to make sure that will remain if you decide to move on.
- Work-life balance sometimes requires compromise.
Try to avoid making decisions based purely on money. While it always pays to be aware of your market value and the quality of your total package, sometimes you may have to compromise a little on some of the wider benefits like holiday entitlement, pension payments, or bonuses, if you want to positively affect your overall level of job satisfaction.
That’s not always the case, but key questions to consider should be whether you have flexibility at work? Are you supported when you need it? And what is your current work-life balance like?
- Think long-term.
No job is completely perfect, so it’s important to think about the bigger picture. Consider the experience you’re gaining, the networks you’re exposed to, and the kudos you get from working where you do. This should all help you understand what to do next.
Is the grass always greener?
The grass is not always greener but if you’re not happy you need to make a change of some kind rather than live with regret.
The decision to move on comes down to knowing what you want and understanding what your employer can offer, so, don’t forget to speak to them and give them the chance to change things.
It could simply be that you’re stuck in a rut and it’s not as bad as it seems once you adopt a more positive approach but, whatever you decide, be confident and don’t be put off by the fear of change because the rewards from finding a job you love can be life-changing.
It is obvious that the world of work is changing but, in truth, it has been changing for some time.
Driven by continuous digital innovation, we have been witnessing a shift in workplace culture for many years. The speed and scale of this global pandemic has simply accelerated it beyond belief.
The way we work, the places we work in, and the skills we are going to need to be successful in business must all be reconsidered.
Homeworking is the new norm, with many people’s uncertainty around this as a serious long-term strategy superseded after seeing the productivity gains that can be made when people are encouraged to fully integrate their work and personal life.
The trust required to do this has been forced in many cases, but it is something that will be in high demand long after this crisis, which means employee engagement must also become a priority.
Employee engagement and productivity have always gone hand in hand, no matter where people work, and, with flexibility in high-demand, organisations must do all they can to help managers develop the skills they need to lead a dispersed team.
Whether through training or regular communication, it is important to get everyone involved as much as possible. You will also need to find a way to routinely monitor your team’s motivation and level of commitment if you want to retain them in the long-term.
Contrary to investing in people, the idea that machines are going to take all our jobs isn’t something new but does seem more prevalent than ever due to the complexity and constraints around people and space.
Big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and global connectivity are just some of the solutions being fast-tracked by businesses, with advances in these fields offering the opportunity to transform the way they operate and make cost-effective productivity gains in the process. However, this does not have to have the knock-on effect of mass unemployment.
If we focus not only on the application of new digital improvements but also on how these advancements will affect jobs and talent in the workplace, it is possible to adapt working practices so that they help people to develop the skills they need to thrive alongside machines, rather than be replaced by them.
Most jobs consist of around 20 to 30 different kinds of activity and, while some may be easily replaced by technology, it’s unlikely that every aspect will be, so rather than be made obsolete, it could be that most jobs will simply change.
This means if you’re a business leader or manager, you have a responsibility to begin redesigning the way your company not only works with technology but the environment in which people operate and the way you recruit and manage talent.
How will your working models change when there is no longer a need for physical proximity to colleagues? Will you join the growing number of companies who are crowd-sourcing people with the skills they need for a particular contract? Perhaps you’ll utilise the more and more skilled people who are choosing to work as freelancers so they can pick and choose projects they are passionate about?
Whatever you do, it seems that, in the future, successful careers will most likely be built around learning and skills rather than specific jobs and, if that is the case, we will all need to be recruiting people who not only have the right attitude and outlook but who can also solve problems, lead well, communicate expertly and have excellent technological skills.
Emotional intelligence, empathy, curiosity and the understanding and creative application of what we can do with the information that computers create will also be critical to the new way of working, which is also going to mean companies have to operate in a nimble and agile way – thinking big, but acting small.
There can be any number of reasons to kick start a new job search but, whatever the trigger, the most important thing to do is to understand your motivation for change.(more…)
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