It’s an Employees Market Out There

Since the beginning of 2021, we have noticed from speaking with our clients that staff turnover has been steadily increasing, particularly in recent months. The current market demands that employers do everything they can to attract the best and most diverse talent. Candidates across all our vacant roles are in high demand. Resigning employment has now reached a new high level that quitting work post-pandemic has been labelled “The Great Resignation of 2021.”

Job vacancies in Ireland have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to with job postings at higher than 19% than in Q2 2019. The index, which analyses quarterly job vacancy data, reveals that the employment market in Ireland has experienced a resurgence, with overall job postings up 40% on a quarterly basis (Q2 2021 vs Q1 2021). This marks a year-on-year increase of 157% when compared to the throes of the first Covid lockdown (Q2, 2020) - the index also shows that the level of job vacancies generated in Q2 this year was 19% higher compared to pre-Covid levels (Q2 2019).

Before COVID, companies tended to assess employees on whether they had the capabilities needed to meet its strategic goals; this is still the case today, and in many ways the pandemic has accelerated organisational change and the understanding that they need to assess the soft skills and behavioural skills employees need to function in an evolving work environment.

As people are venturing out into the world post COVID, we are seeing that candidates are broadening their horizons as a result of remote working, increasing house prices and indeed a booming economy in some business sectors. Whilst this is good news for employees, it is not necessarily good news for employers who are now experiencing high turnover and attrition rates, employees starting and leaving within a short period of time and long serving employees looking for new challenges externally.

According to Orla Moran, General Manager of “the latest Jobs Index shows an economy in rebound. What makes this quarter’s figures particularly interesting and so encouraging is the fact that current job vacancies are now higher than pre-Covid vacancy levels.

“Sectors that were especially hard hit by restrictions are recovering quickly, while it is clear from the growth in financial and business support sectors that pent-up demand for talent during lockdown is transforming into active recruitment. This economic rebound is taking hold across the entire country, not just in major cities.

“In line with this demand for talent, we can also anticipate a rise in job seekers looking to kick-start their career, or even change career path. While many employees will have opted to stay secure in their current job during lockdown, the increased certainty that reopening brings, the new culture of openness to hybrid working, and the sheer number of vacancies means that 2021 is likely to be a year of mass movement between roles, or what some economists and recruitment professionals are calling the ‘Great Resignation’.”

So, to stay competitive, employers should objectively assess the factors that make working for them attractive:

Remote Working

For many companies, location has become irrelevant during the pandemic, as more and more companies are choosing to stay remote or are implementing a hybrid model of working. During the pandemic, employees have moved all over Ireland to be with family, reduced accommodation rates, commute times and cost of living, and a more workable lifestyle. A lot of people are working remotely since last year and it makes sense to open up the job listings to candidates from other locations with relevant skill sets - this has led to companies competing for talent across Ireland, and further afield. It’s a competitive job market and the hiring process is costly.

As the economy has opened and continues to do so, the reintegration of remote teams back into the office will face challenges — not the least of which is that employees may not want to return.

Companies need to evaluate their contracts of employment i.e. place of work, flexibility, health & safety obligations and remote work policies right now and decide what is acceptable for the future. Employees who worked remotely during the pandemic may be frustrated if they are called back into the office and may look for other job opportunities. When hiring, companies will need to be more open to remote working.

What we are seeing in this space is a shift from expecting things to return to the “old normal” and a new push for hybrid working conditions.

Employee Benefits

Post-COVID, the question of employee benefits is an essential part of how companies are drawing in from their talent pool. Building a talent pool means cultivating a process and a community by which hiring managers can find the right people for the right job. But ever since the pandemic hit, what employees are looking for in a job has changed dramatically and they are now much more focused on how a potential employer approaches the sustainable, well-being of its employees. Employers must be prepared to offer better benefits, more flexibility.

What RBK HR Solutions have found is that the best employee benefits that attract top talent this year include:

  • Flexible Work Schedules 
  • Remote Working 
  • Paid Family Leave 
  • Health and Fitness (including mental and physical) 
  • Financial Planning 
  • Professional Development

Continued Remote Hiring

For HR Professionals, virtual interviews and remote hiring are here to stay. While an in-person interview is important, we have found it possible to assess potential employees virtually. If companies are open to remote workers, it opens the door to significantly larger candidate pools since you will not be bound by geographical limits.

Internal Hiring

Another trend that we are seeing is a focus on internal promotions. Creating opportunities for redeploying internal employees with the right skillsets can help improve retention of top talent. Employees working at companies with high internal mobility stay nearly twice as long.

As you hire new employees in 2021 and beyond, consider which technical skills and soft skills might be required to navigate shifting job roles, as well as shifting office setups in a quickly changing business environment.

Where you are worried about the potential loss of key staff, we suggest you focus on the following:

1. Robust Onboarding

Employees hearts and minds are mostly won or lost in the first 100 days. When on-boarding new employees, ensure that you do not overwhelm them with a lot of information and systems. Always provide context about mission, vision, values, strategic plans, processes, and people.

Make sure training sessions and meetings with employees are useful and interactive. Introduce people to each other, and provide helpful content on their professional background and work. Help new employees to integrate socially into the company fabric, not just into the org chart.

2. Constant Feedback

Treat people like adults – communicate with them. People want to know quickly and often how well or poorly they are performing so they can grow, evolve, and get better at their job without having to wait for their probationary appraisal or their performance review. Make sure to deliver feedback early, and often, and check in with them regularly.

3. Flexible Schedules

Promote flexible schedules and a focus on value delivered, not hours spent. If remote working during COVID-19 has shown us anything, it is that flexibility to do work at certain hours is a tremendous boost for productivity and motivation. People who feel that their needs are accounted for will have little reason to switch to another company with less flexibility.

4. Remote Nurturing

In a world where remote and hybrid working have been fully normalised, it is become more important to nurture employees effectively over the phone, email and virtually e.g. zoom. Whether by sending snacks, coffee, pizzas or additional time off, career coaching, or other curated experiences which they may want, employers can show they truly care and want their people to thrive and stay. It also keeps the organisation’s culture alive and well.

To conclude, having people-centric practices is going to be very important and creating an employee experience where employees feel connected to the purpose of an organisation, get energy from the work they are doing, and the workplace feels human and positive, is going to be incredibly critical to the success of businesses going forward. This way, you can ensure business continuity and continued growth.

The RBK HR Solutions team can provide your Company with professional recruitment campaign support, we can also guide and support you though effective employee retention strategies, provide bespoke policies and procedures and a robust on-boarding process.

For more advice and support please contact a member of the RBK HR Solutions Team:

  • Yvonne Clarke – HR Solutions Manager – (090) 6480600 
  • Áine Dunne - HR Consultant - (090) 6480600

Yvonne Clarke

HR Solutions Manager

View Profile