End of Year Review
My well-intentioned plans to holiday in November to ward off any winter illness now lie in tatters. I’ve had food poisoning and I’m writing this with a horrible cough and cold. My apologies to everyone who I’ve had to reschedule on - I absolutely hate changing plans. In the interim, I did sneak in a quick trip to Zurich – a City I’ve been visiting for over 25 years (which makes me feel old). I’ve probably bored many of you in the past with my love for Switzerland, but my impression was that the economy there was stodgy too, that they have real issues around the affordability of housing (far worse than the UK) and a creeping number of people are falling into income poverty. While being ill, I’ve also watched the “Selling Sunset” on Netflix based in LA and sales volumes are down enormously and there is a reference to brokerages in the US making lay offs. Back home, new starts on building sites have slowed, management consultants are now reportedly consulting on their own business model such is the lack of work, and the big four are cutting back.
Where am I going with all this? The latest unemployment figures are showing virtually no change. I suspect that the figures for the end of March 2024 won’t be so positive unless we get some growth back in the economy. If I’m wrong, then there’s been a big shift in the way U.K. firms are operating? Are firms less productive? Or some parts of the economy growing at breakneck speed? Or are firms less skittish and less hire and fire in their outlook - a good thing surely.
It’s that time of year when firms approach us for salary guidance. Endless excel spreadsheets dropping into recruiters inboxes. However, we always have to caution clients that it isn’t an exact science as the specifics of each role can make a material difference to comp. My advice would be to book a Teams with your recruitment partners and to talk through roles and salaries, as you will get more from this. Last year was a challenge for HR teams in getting comp right. Inflation was raging and having had to deal with huge skills shortages in previous years, there was a real fear around losing colleagues to competitors. The focus was very much on supporting more junior colleagues, who were feeling the cost-of-living crisis the most. Roll on a year and firms are facing huge margin compression. If ever there was a year for Andrew Bailey to talk about pay restraint, this would be it. However, the market will do the work for him.
I suspect that many firms will be faced with the reality of not being able to award inflation busting pay rises. This can present employees with a bit of a conundrum, as a poor pay review can be taken as a vote of no confidence. However, I think it’s not to be taken personally and over time you will reap the rewards of your work. Firms, though, should focus on their overall employee value proposition if they can’t compete on pay. Working from anywhere a number of weeks a year is popular etc. (particularly with such an international workforce as the City has). HR has not been an easy place to be since the pandemic, and sadly I don’t think HR teams are in for an easy 2024. Leaders need to work closely with their HR teams to fully harness their abilities during these turbulent times.
This is my last newsletter of 2023. It’s been a tough year, but I’m also proud of what the team at Fram has achieved, the working environment we’ve created, and the trusted relationships we have. There is a plethora of careers and market information our website, but if you want more specific insight then don’t hesitate to contact me or one of the team.
I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! I have one wish for 2024 – peace.
About Fram Professionals
Fram Professionals focuses on placing office professionals in dynamic, innovative, or venture-backed firms in the London – Oxbridge “golden triangle”. We focus on mid-to-senior permanent hires across key functions such as finance, sales & marketing, legal, and management positions.
Contact us on [email protected] or call 01525 864 372 for an informal chat about our services.
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