When two talent planets collide… into confusion

Blue back arrow

Case Study

When two talent planets collide… into confusion

As consumers of media, we’re used to sifting through an avalanche of headlines, conflicting stories, and mish-mash messages to find our way to the truth. Staying ‘woke’ if you like.

Drinking wine is bad for your liver but can also aid digestion and relaxation. Earphones can damage your hearing, but listening to music enhances your mood. Sitting at your desk is bad for your posture, but standing too long will give you varicose veins. You see the theme. Exasperating.

They say there’s 3 sides to every story and that can definitely be said for the world of talent right now. And since solving talent challenges is Rethink’s entire world, we’re here to shed some light on what’s really going on out there.

Job opportunities v layoffs

On talent planet one, the message is that job choice is higher than ever before. It’s a candidate market. ‘Quiet Quitting’ and ‘The Great Resignation’ has made way for talented people to make more demands. There’s more jobs than people applying for them so if you want to change companies, there’s never been a better time to jump ship (or spaceship?)

Scroll down your feed and you’ll be hit by the news from talent planet two, where the message is the complete opposite. Do not move a muscle, stay put, companies aren’t hiring, the market is too unstable and you’d be mad to even consider applying for a job anywhere else.

So, what's the situation on planet reality?

The real world

Last year the focus was most definitely on talent acquisition, hiring was rife, getting fresh faces through your door instead of a competitor's door was a priority, and business efforts were skyrocketing towards growth (that’s enough of the space references now.) However, for 2023, with threats of a recession, businesses being more cautionary with their budgets and belt-tightening happening across all industries, retention and holding onto talent seems to be the position businesses are taking right now.

But here’s where the message has been poorly transmitted – this must mean there’s no jobs? No. Quite the opposite. In Jan 2023, 459,395 new vacancies were posted on LinkedIn by UK organisations alone. So Houston, we repeat: we do not have a hiring problem.

For some however, it has been an undeniably rough start to 2023, with thousands of workers affected by layoffs across Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Meta, and Twitter. And while this is distressing for those involved, top talent being let go on one talent planet, means a whole new talent pool to swipe from on the other. What may be ‘redundant’ to one person, is treasure to someone else - and you can guarantee any forward-thinking business would be eager to snap up talent from any of these tech giants.

Energy costs and the labour market

One thing news media are great at is catastrophising, scaremongering and putting A+B together and getting potatoes. Rethink’s CEO Mark Lee wrote about this last year around the media’s focus on the jobs market and how for the first time ever, job vacancies had surpassed the number of unemployed in the UK. He went on to explain that "most companies will tell you they expect difficulties hiring people this year – just like they have for most years over the last few decades. Changes to immigration policy as a consequence of Brexit have been another challenge for companies trying to hire. And yet there’s been more unemployed than job vacancies? So how can there be hiring challenges then? Because the two pieces of information are pretty much 100% uncorrelated.”

Bringing the same point into 2023, we are seeing the same kind of black-and-white thinking with news around energy costs and the labour market - which are fundamentally different topics. And while of course the cost of living will be a deciding factor in whether someone takes the risk of changing jobs, it’s equally a reason why some may have no choice but to do just that, to look for a higher salary to keep up with inflation. The crux of all this, is that the cost of heating, electricity, and the food in your cupboard, do not directly correlate to how many jobs are available.

What it does directly correlate too however, is an array of other relevant factors, that affect the world of work, including:

· Salary reviews – with rising inflation businesses need to keep up with the wages they’re offering, or risk losing staff to companies with a more competitive salary.

· Commuting – not wanting to spend money on fares and travel means more people choosing to work from home instead of office spaces.

On the contrary…

· Working from home – people may opt to spend more time in the office, to save on their own heating and electricity bills. For businesses this means more cost for them, so they may make movements to reduce overheads in terms of the remote/hybrid options they provide.

· Overtime or multiple jobs – some employee’s may be forced to find additional work, or ‘side hustles’ to supplement their full-time salary, while some may be desperate for overtime. Employer’s therefore need to remain clear on their stance on this and review any policies and contracts to keep in line with working time regulations.

Be mindful, but brave

Clearly passionate about the topic of misinformation in the world of talent, Rethink’s CEO Mark Lee also wrote a piece last year aptly named ‘Are we really all going to die?’ summarising this topic quite succinctly with, “fundamentally, crises are created by people and solved by people.”

Whether you’re a business that’s worried about recruitment challenges, workforce planning or costs this year, or a candidate who’s unsure on what path to take to give themselves the best start to the year, Rethink are on hand to support.

Making economy predictions, or even predictions of any kind, are tricky at the start of the year, but our team of experts have battled through talent wars, recessions, pandemics, crashes, and surges – and have survived time and time again. Cut through the noise and focus on what you or your business want to achieve this year, then speak to the experts who can help you get there. That’s the priority.

Authored by
Katey-Rose Gregory
Content Marketing Manager

Related content