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The Team at Laudale

Alec Laurie
Alec Laurie
Managing Director
alec@laudale.com

Adapting to uncertainty: what does it mean for talent?

This week, Deloitte reported the findings from its quarterly CFO Survey.

I won’t delve into the detail – you can read the report here – but the findings include:

  • 58% say reducing costs is a strong priority in the next 12 months
  • Only 11% expect to increase capital expenditure
  • 70% expect to reduce hiring in the next 12 months.

Uncertainty = reduce spend and stop hiring. Pretty grim on the face of it. But is that the real picture?

It’d be unwise to assume that the majority of corporates in the UK are ‘sitting tight’ for 12 months. That’s not how competitive markets work.

At the same time, you can’t really ignore these figures.

The sample

Of course, this report is based on a specific sample. 91 CFOs of larger corporates – private and public.

It doesn’t represent the entire UK business population. For example, reports like Tech Nation’s earlier this year are brimming with optimism.

Nevertheless, corporates have a significant impact on the UK economy, employment, and on broader confidence.

Considerations for the talent market *

Below is some food for thought in light of a) reports such as Deloitte’s, and b) on what we’re seeing.

Because, it isn’t all doom and gloom – as reinforced by the Tech Nation report (and others) – and there’s a lot to be optimistic about in UK business.

If you’re a candidate looking at jobs market

  • We’ve seen good activity in smaller to mid-market companies (> FTSE 250). Especially those backed by Private Equity. In the main, these companies are more fleet of foot.
  • If you ply your trade on large transformation programmes you might have felt the pinch recently. This type of work is typically associated with corporates and we’ve seen what Deloitte has reported – cutbacks on large investments.
  • At the same time, companies are changing, innovating, and improving operating models. Though, there’s a trend toward more iterative approaches than ‘big bang’ (this relates to evolving ways of working rather than uncertainty).
  • Generally speaking, there is more activity in the permanent market than in the contract/interim. There are a few things driving this, including:
  1. The trend for ‘digital first’ companies to build internal capability (FTE) in order to differentiate.
  2. The strange response to off-payroll legislative changes (i.e. IR35 – more on that in later blogs).
  • London’s busier than the North. It’s a fact we can’t escape.

If you’re a hiring manager wanting to get things done

  • Whilst there might be uncertainty, great people are still in demand, and attracting talent is competitive.
  • If you need to deliver change but don’t want to ‘staff up’, you might need to think outside of the box. There are alternative models to bring in flexible resource, ‘on-demand’ and risk-free.
  • And, just because reports suggest people are sitting tight, you can bet your life that the best companies are adapting to uncertainty. We’ve had a surprisingly busy year and have a healthy pipeline.

Adapting to uncertainty

I personally don’t think the current uncertainty is finite. Once we’ve ‘overcome’ things like Brexit, there will be something else.

That’s not pessimism – quite the opposite. We simply embrace this new normal and pivot, like we have done many times in the past.

I hope the above helps you think about how to adapt. And if you’d like to discuss it further, please get in touch.

This is written for Laudale’s market – primarily senior Technology and Business Transformation professionals. Some, but not all, of the content will be applicable more broadly.