It’s four sleeps to Christmas and I feel like many employers and employees will be taking a huge sigh of relief as we wrap things up for the 2023 year. While we say it every year, Christmas feels like it has come around quick, it also seems to feel like it has been a pretty big slog to the finish line. From my discussions with employers and employees, many are ready for a break, to recharge and reset and welcome in a fresh new year. Keeping our people upbeat and motivated to push through to the end has been a big challenge in the last few weeks, even months and to me it feels like even more businesses are trying to take a longer break over the Christmas – New Year period to give their people a rest.
On the employment and human resources front there has been a lot going on in 2023 so it’s no wonder we all feel like we need a break. I love this time of year from a reflection perspective and I’ll be using some on my January holiday time to reflect on what’s happened in our industry, in business at a local level as well as in my own business at Inspire HQ and what that all means for 2024.
2023 for me will be another year that will be remembered as the year of the employee or the candidate. It has been a job seekers market with plenty of job opportunities and not many job seekers. Employers have reported significant challenges in sourcing and attracting the right people for vacancies. The unemployment rate has been exceptionally low all year and as at November for Australia sat at 3.9% The hot topic of conversation in recent weeks has been; is the job market shifting – are more people looking for work, is the job market swinging back towards more of an employers market. Unfortunately for employers the answer is no, we are yet to see this shift in the market. While some recruiting activity has slowed and businesses are being more considered in their hiring, we are a long way off the job market swinging back in favour of the employer and my prediction is that 2024 will remain challenging in terms of talent attraction.
From a HR perspective in 2023 there were definitely some themes across all industry sectors that presented challenges for businesses.
- The hybrid / work from home model – At a local Ballarat level, my take on this, excluding government, is that employers have or are moving to minimal hybrid working models and are very keen to have their people back in offices. We are seeing very little to no flexibility in this regard when recruiting on behalf of our clients however from an employee perspective it is still one of the most asked questions when people are applying and/or interviewing for jobs. The big corporates seem to be much more open to hybrid working models as do Melbourne based businesses and this will be one area I’ll be watching with great interest in 2024.
- Mental Health and Wellbeing – this is a space that is exceptionally challenging for employers and is having a huge impact on employee engagement, retention and productivity. More and more businesses are implementing initiatives in this regard and Employee Assistance Program offerings continue to evolve and be a focus as a result.
- Learning and Development – because of the difficulty in recruiting talent at the level or skill desired, employers have had to invest more focus on training and developing their existing people to get them to the skill level required. Small to medium business owners have reported in particular the challenges of hiring or promoting technically strong employees in to mid-level people management roles and then developing their people management skills.
As we put another year between the Covid pandemic – although the recent wave of covid and illness seems to be hitting some businesses hard, overall it feels like businesses are finding their new normal.
Personally, it’s been another big year at Inspire HQ – I feel like I have been saying that every year for the last 10 years! Just like the businesses we work with, we too have experienced many of the same recruitment and HR challenges. It’s been exciting to see some of our team promoted in to new roles as they have progressed their careers, we have farewelled team members who have been ready to take the next step in their career and we have welcomed some awesome new team members as well. The highlight for me was celebrating 10 years in business with those who have supported our journey. I’m feeling excited about what’s in store for 2024 and last week I had a strategy session with my business coach which has given me lots to think about over the holiday period as I start to plan and set goals for 2024.
Our team will be taking a break from blogging during January however we will be back from February to continue to share our recruitment, human resources and careers insights, expertise and knowledge with you. Stay tuned for some blogs in early 2024 on my predictions for 2024 and I’ll share some more of my learnings and reflections from 2023.
From our team to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and successful 2024!