Whether we term it the gig economy or the portfolio career, there’s more transience about the workforce environment than ever before. People come, people go, using one organisation or project in order to move on to the next, polishing and burnishing their CV as they progress. TMP’s work with a number of major infrastructure providers – HS2, Crossrail, TfL and Network Rail – bring into sharp focus the reality of inpiduals moving from one project to another, the first facilitating the journey to the next.
We can see examples of this in many sectors perhaps less associated with the 9-5.
Two exceptionally fine footballers, Ngolo Kante and Riyad Mahrez, joined Leicester City at the beginning of last season. At that point, Leicester was a struggling, non-aspirational, footballing outpost with little other than a perennial fight against relegation to offer incoming stars – other, obviously, than Premier League wages.
If we fast-forward through a bewildering, are-we-really-seeing-this season where Leicester swept all before them and triumphed in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, then the picture changes. It certainly changed on Match of the Day which witnessed Mr Lineker present the programme wearing just his underwear, as a result of a rash bet on his old side.
Back to the two gentlemen in question, were either of them foreseeing a long and successful career with the previously unexceptional City? Or did they see the chance to move to Leicester as a shop window opportunity? Perform creditably within a struggling side and gain the chance to move on to bigger and better things? We can only surmise. However, if such were the intended outcome, then Kante’s move to Chelsea for a tidy £32m before the start of the new season appeared to confirm this. Mahrez too has been high on the shopping lists of a number of high profile, deep pocketed organisations.
Let’s take Boris Johnson, a less accomplished footballer admittedly, but no less calculating when it comes to career moves.
Prior to the run up to the EU Referendum, it would be hard to find a politician with a more cosmopolitan background then Johnson. Fluent in German and French, schooled in Brussels before Eton and with a family heritage with Swiss, Turkish, French and English influences (as he puts it, ‘the genetic equivalent of a UN peacekeeping force’), how could he possibly not be pro-Remain?
Nevertheless, late in the day, Boris changed both his side and his mind and threw his lot in with the Brexit crowd. What were his motivations? Only he will know. However, the chance to put one over on David Cameron, whilst pushing the Brexit vote to a close defeat, so propelling Boris himself to the front of the queue should Cameron decide to fall on his sword, maybe isn’t too far-fetched a plan.
As with all best laid plans, things didn’t entirely adhere rigidly to Boris’script. By helping to win the day for Brexit, he effectively lost. However, another example of a person taking up one position with a long term view of it paying off at a later point.
Whilst it is clear that inpiduals will attempt to plot their career, using the experience gained at one organisation, as well, importantly, as the respective kudos of that employer brand, in order for their future career to benefit, this will only apply to those organisations that candidate audiences feel would be a positive addition to their CVs.
One particular high profile organisation which is suffering in this regard is the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. An organisation tasked with setting the interest rates for the country, this feels exactly like the sort of exposure and interest that might open doors further down the line for the brightest and best economists and financiers.
Recent minutes from the MPC suggest, however, that ‘I found it was a major problem to find staff – it hasn’t been a place that helps people get promoted’.Ironically, the independence of the MPC gives the impression to many that it is out of the Bank of England loop and not ideally placed to facilitate subsequent career movement.
We are facing a similar challenge with a current client of the agency. They operate within a somewhat unloved sector and run a series of contact centres across the country. Both factors influence the organisation’s challenge in terms of standing out, standing out for positive reasons and for providing a value adding, CV enhancing employment experience. This challenge means the organisation struggles to recruit, with all the cost pressures and customer service impacts this creates.
Frustratingly, in this particular case, the organisation does not struggle to provide a meaningful employment experience and one which will improve the CVs of the people who work there. It struggles, currently, however, with articulating this employment reality to its external talent pool audiences. This should be viewed as an attractive, career enabling stop on the career journey, and this is the message that we will work hard with them to construct.
And such articulation is taking place during a unique time and place. There can have been few events so momentous and so likely to prompt fear, rumour and concern than Brexit. It would be beyond foolish to make any firm assumptions around what will and what will not fall out of the decision to leave the EU.
Whatever the longer term impacts of Brexit, the UK employment market remains in relatively rude health with the unemployment rate now below 5% at 4.9% and the economy adding no less than 624,000 more people in work than a year previously. Reed.co.uk suggested that there were 8.2% more vacancies in the economy in July 2016 than a year previously.
Current economic forecasters are suggesting that the UK will enter a period of either very modest or even negative growth with unemployment beginning to rise. Candidates then, are likely to be increasingly cautious and conservative about future recruitment decisions – they are unlikely to take career risks or chances. At the same time, skill shortages around some key talent pools are unlikely to go away.
So UK recruiters will face both talent squeezes as well as a cautious candidate audience.
It is vital, then, that such employers can communicate a positive organisational future to talent pool audiences, at the same time as delivering an employee value proposition which continues to speak to growth, progression and development.
Talent, however, will be unlikely to choose an employer which represents a final destination rather than one that opens up doors and options to further great experiences.
Neil Harrison | Head of Employer Branding | firstname.lastname@example.org