Mechanical Engineers and the Green Energy Revolution
As companies and organizations look ahead to 2023, there are many unanswered questions. Lingering effects of the pandemic continue to cast a shadow over the labour market. Even as society attempts to move on from this chapter, a new challenge looms in the form of a potential recession. Questions about salary expectations, work life balance, and the role of seniors in the workplace spark lively debate. With these issues and more in mind, we convened our senior staff members to share their experiences, offer their wisdom, and boldly predict the future. They were happy to oblige.
The Future of Recruiting
“Despite automation, I don’t think our jobs will ever go away,” says Jessica Miles.1 Even if a recession materializes, the senior recruiter expects demand to remain high for individuals with specific industry, technical or commercial experience. “We are still going to be asked to find needles in haystacks.”
President Henry Goldbeck agrees. “It takes an individual to look at resumes and determine if there’s something worth exploring and then to make personal contact to discuss what is not on the resume or job description. Oftentimes we find great candidates that the algorithm might miss or who only respond because of the personal outreach and transparent, confidential discussions.”
Impact of Potential Recession on Recruitment
“I think if there is recession in 2023, it will be another K-shaped recession from a labour demand point of view,” offers Goldbeck, referencing the term economists use to describe a recovery that is not uniform across sectors. “I believe that BC is going to be largely insulated due to the effect of increased net migration, continued residential and commercial construction, and the diversity of our economy.”
Senior Recruiter Alessia Pagliaroli also believes that the recruitment market will remain competitive in 2023.
“If there is a downturn in recruiting in the new year, I don’t see it lasting too long,” she says. “Companies have been putting their recruitment needs on hold for two years during Covid, so they need people.”
Despite her rosy outlook, Pagliaroli concedes that people are exercising caution before leaving the stability of their current roles.
“Candidates have been very cautious when discussing potential new opportunities,” she says. “They’re asking way more questions.”
Companies that are considered vulnerable face an uphill battle when trying to attract candidates.
“Whispers of recession are hard for small start ups,” says Pagliaroli. “Potential candidates are unsure about the risk of joining. At the same time, there have been many layoffs at big tech companies, so size may not ensure security.”
Henry Goldbeck believes that companies can use stability as an advantage when seeking to retain employees.
“Counter offers are effective in this environment,” he says. “If employees get what they’re looking for, salary-wise, as well as the stability and tenure of their current position, that is attractive.”
Salary and Compensation Take Centre Stage
In this competitive job market, those looking to attract top talent are going to have to pony up.
“The biggest recruiting challenge that I see is the gap that exists between salary expectations and what companies offer,” says Miles. “Companies are pickier and more demanding than ever, but they don’t always offer competitive compensation, especially as many have not yet adapted to the widespread salary increases we saw in 2022 where over two thirds of employees earning $80K or more received raises.”
For candidates, the importance of salary has only been amplified by the punishing cost of living increases being experienced in Vancouver and elsewhere.
“We’re going to get more people who need a job because they need to pay their mortgage,” says Pagliaroli, who has observed increasing forthrightness on the issue.
“When you ask candidates why they’re open to new job opportunities they’ve historically talked about career progression, expanding their knowledge base or corporate culture,” she says. “Recently I’ve noticed more people being straightforward and telling me that they need an increase in income because it’s getting too expensive to live in Vancouver. They want us to show them the money.”
Executive Assistant Ciaran Henderson concurs.
“It’s getting to the point in Vancouver that the amount of money you earn is the most important thing. People who are earning $100K can’t even afford a mortgage, which is crazy,” he says. “It’s unsustainable.”
Work Flexibility and the Return to the Office
Even as other aspects of life revert toward some form of normalcy, work arrangements remain altered by new habits formed during the pandemic. Some companies continue to work entirely remotely, others have adopted a hybrid model, and some have fully returned to the office. Make-up giant L’Oreal has enticed staff back to their El Segundo office by offering a concierge who will run errands on their behalf. 2 Incoming Twitter-boss Elon Musk, on the other hand, introduced himself to staff by demanding increased commitment to long in-person hours. 3 The Goldbeck staff showed consensus that the former approach is more realistic than the latter.
“Companies will be looking at Twitter to see what happens,” acknowledged Henry Goldbeck, adding “but I don’t know if you’re able to disentangle the back-to-office orders from the rest of what’s been going on there to identify a trend outside of Twitter.”
According to Goldbeck, flexibility and accommodation remain in high demand by candidates. “Anything companies can do to make it easier for people to return to the office will have an impact,” he says.
“With gas prices rising, we’re seeing a lot more car and transit allowances, company vehicles, and things like that,” says Vanessa Cox. The Senior Recruiter believes that candidates have new expectations. “People used to be okay with commuting an hour each way, every day. Not so much anymore.”
Candidates Demand Flexibility
When it comes to attracting top candidates, offering work-life balance is a must. According to Goldbeck, it’s a simple matter of supply and demand.
“If we remain in an employee’s market for skilled people, companies have less leverage and candidates will choose employers that allow them to work remotely at least a couple of days a week or when needed,” he says.
Senior Recruiter Karen Epp notes that not all companies are on board.
“I’m finding that a lot of my clients want people back 100%,” she reports. “I have seven HR positions right now and they’re all 100% in-office.”
Miles isn’t sure that’s a winning approach. “I think organizations are going to learn that they need to adapt to attract top talent. In six to eight months, I’ll be interested to see if those companies have pivoted.”
Attaining Buy-in for Office Attendance
“I think the best way to create buy-in is to give employees flexibility in terms of how much time they spend in the office,” says Goldbeck. “This allows them to see the benefits of being around team members for themselves. It’s important to design something that works for your company and your employees and not let ideology get in the way.”
Many companies see work flexibility as a relatively low-cost benefit they can provide, but others aren’t convinced.
“The less organized your management is, the more difficult it becomes to sustain,” says Goldbeck.
Of course the employees themselves are key to the success of a remote or hybrid work arrangement. Here Goldbeck praises his staff.
“People in our office work really, really hard,” he says. “There is an incentive component to their compensation, they know they have a job to do and they want to do it whether at home or in the office. They actually put in more hours working from home than when in office. It’s changed to be that they come to the office to see their colleagues in person and take a break from their work from home routine, instead of the opposite.”
Ultimately, each company must do what works best for their organization. Certain jobs simply cannot be performed remotely and candidates applying for these positions generally understand that.
Even as companies institute policies mandating a certain amount of in-office attendance, Goldbeck doesn’t believe the genie can be put back into the bottle.
“It’s never going back to everybody full time in the office, not in a million years, regardless of what happens with the economy,” he says.
The New Role of Older Workers
Goldbeck has observed a decrease in ageism and an increased willingness to hire candidates in their 50s and beyond. He believes the reasons are twofold.
“Ageism will continue to decrease not only because people remain healthier longer, but because skills and experience are in short supply and are highly valued,” he says. “There’s been a huge change in the workplace in terms of client willingness to consider older candidates. There has also been a decrease in the average time that an employee will stay with one employer. This shift means that there is no longer the expectation that an employee needs to stay with the company for over 10 years for the hire to be a success. We’re already seeing unemployment rates for employees 55+ come in as only marginally higher than the prime working years of 24-54.”
While there are many who enjoy retirement, others have an itch to return to the workplace. Part time or flexible roles are particularly appealing to these individuals.
“Over the years I’ve seen so many people come back,” says Goldbeck. “They’ll have an early retirement and then two years later decide that they’ve been retired long enough. They are either tired of playing golf or they tried golf and didn’t like it. You have to do something, right?”
Relationships between younger and older employees can be mutually beneficial. Older staff members can provide knowledge, wisdom, and analysis that can only be gained through experience, including the importance of soft skills, relationships, learning from mistakes, and handling politics. The younger workers can, in turn, provide input on technology, current trends and practices, as well as incorporating diversity.
Honesty with Staff Builds Loyalty
Despite the wisdom and experience of the Goldbeck staff, only time will tell what 2023 has in store.
Henry Goldbeck believes that organizations who are threatened by recession should remember that honesty is the best policy.
“Be honest about what’s going on,” he advises. “If you’re intent on keeping the team together, then communicate that to your staff but don’t make promises you can’t keep. If people are kept in the loop, they’ll feel more in control.”
Bonus: What Our Recruiters Wish People Understood About Recruiting
“Our process is client driven, but I get approached every day by candidates who want me to help them find a job. All different people of all different levels don’t understand the way it works. It’s actually illegal in Canada for somebody to charge a fee to find someone else a job. We love interacting with candidates, but if you’re the right fit, we’ll be calling you. We don’t go out and look for opportunities on your behalf.” -Senior Recruiter Jessica Miles.
“Candidates should not tell us one thing and the client another. I go into depth about salary expectations and make sure what they want is in line with what’s being offered. Then they go to the client and add another $15,000. It doesn’t reflect well on us or the candidate.” -Recruiter Rakel MacDonald
“We don’t lie to clients about salary. Our fees are based on the annual gross base salary of the candidates, so sometimes clients think we want to increase the base salary because we want to increase our fees. It’s actually because we’re in touch with the market and we talk to candidates on a daily basis. If I tell you that your salary offer is not competitive, it’s not to increase my fee, it’s because that’s what it takes to attract quality candidates. It’s better for us to close a deal successfully than to try for a higher salary and lose the deal.” – Senior Recruiter Alessia Pagliaroli.