2021 has been a complicated year filled with changes, challenges and opportunities. A ‘Global Trends’ report from IMSA Search further explores what the world’s top executive search professionals are focusing on today as we enter the second quarter.
April 7, 2022 – Around the world, many economies are recovering and getting stronger. Over the next year, consumers expect better job prospects, according to the Conference Board. From the United States to Europe to Asia, economies are improving faster than expected. In a new report from IMSA Search, its recruitment professionals say they are experiencing an acceleration in their activity. In some cases, there is a high demand to fill positions that have become vacant during the pandemic. “We have a client who cut 60% of their 3,000 employees,” said Philip Price, partner of IMSA UK “As the market recovers, they are trying to rehire as many of their former customer-facing employees as possible.” This boomerang effect is evident in all companies in Europe, Asia and the United States
“We had the strongest growth in 15 years, which combined with the lack of candidates caused the market to overheat,” said Jens Christian Jensen from IMSA Denmark.
In most countries, vaccinations have accelerated and people have accepted that we will live with COVID for the long term. This acceptance led to a return to work and an influx of new positions. “In France, 2020 saw a 20-40% collapse in the middle and senior management recruitment market,” said Hervé Gentile from IMSA France. “Now it’s back to pre-COVID-19 levels. With the executive job market nearing full, the needs here are critical.
Global Leaders in Demand
As we emerge from the pandemic, travel returns and everyone is more comfortable working remotely, international candidates will be in even greater demand. According to the IMSA report, many industries are now moving towards a global recruitment strategy, recognizing that the strongest leaders may be located in other countries or continents. Videoconferencing tools have accelerated search and selection, simplifying global recruiting. From Teams to Zoom, it has never been easier to identify and interview candidates in other parts of the world. “Remote work has broken down geographic boundaries, allowing companies to hire resources from around the world,” said Pedro Hipolito from IMSA Portugal.
“With less business travel and increased use of video conferencing, there will be a greater need for international applicants,” said Jan Gunnar Storli from IMSA Norway.
During the pandemic, companies accepted remote work because there was no alternative and many believed productivity would decline. In most cases, employees have adapted and productivity has improved.
In a recent Accenture “Future of Work” survey of more than 9,000 employees in 11 countries, 83% of respondents said they considered the hybrid working model (25% to 75% of working time at distance) optimal. Employees who used a hybrid model during the pandemic enjoyed better mental health, built stronger working relationships, were more likely to feel in the right place to do the job for their employer, and experienced less stress. ‘burnout.
As more companies return to their offices, employees are demanding greater flexibility. Workers don’t want to be in the office full-time: In a McKinsey & Company global survey of more than 5,000 employees, 52% said they preferred hybrid post-COVID, up from 30% pre-pandemic; 11% now prefer remote work, and only 37% said they prefer on-site work.
Post-COVID Workforce Trends Driving the Labor Market
Experts agree that we are going through unprecedented times in the global job market. While some of the hottest phrases from this phase include the Great Resignation, the Great Achievement and the Great Reshuffle, there are many more “Greats” where these came from, according to a new report from Business Talent Group (BTG). Each of these workforce trends revolves around the same notion that the pandemic has caused major shifts in the workforce at all levels in almost every industry.
The Business Talent Group study provides a recap of today’s most exceptional workforce trends and reveals why there’s never been a better time to tap into top-tier freelance talent for help you tackle your greatest business opportunities and challenges.
“In the US, hybrid is standard with a maximum of four days in the office,” said Michael Berger, from IMSA USA. “People are increasingly liking companies that offer the option to work remotely, and companies that don’t will have a harder time attracting candidates,” Hipólito said.
Related: Three key takeaways from the COVID-19 crisis
“During the pandemic, many employees gained more control and balance, and they appreciated the autonomy to choose what to do and when to do it. This control has given employees a deep sense of purpose and impact,” said David Nirenberg of IMSA Canada.
There is no single hybrid model, of course, as companies try different approaches, evaluate the results in real time, and continue to evolve their strategies.
According to the IMSA report, phased approaches alternate group and team schedules in the office or bring all employees into the office a few days a week. Some offices are reconfiguring space to allow for social distancing, while others are sharing space to accommodate the increase in remote working. People move from big cities to suburban areas, with no desire to return. Reductions in working space at headquarters are planned.
“Some companies are creating business centers in different parts of cities, so if employees need to work in person, they can go to an office space near them, eliminating long commutes and the need to live within the city limits,” said Armando Ajuria from IMSA Mexico.
The employee experience has been heavily impacted by the shift to working from home, and it’s not all positive. For parents with young children in particular, work time spills over into family time, family time spills over into work time, and for some, the lack of control over their schedule has been extremely difficult, notes the IMSA report.
Related: Pandemic Pause: Job Change Reluctances and Realities in the Age of COVID-19
“For most people, working from home involves work calls and emails late into the night, which often encroaches on family time,” said Olga Selivanova-Shof from IMSA Russia. For others, the isolation has caused great psychological strain. Most of us depend on face-to-face interaction with colleagues. And, while virtual meetings have huge benefits, Zoom fatigue is real and innovation is better in person.
Therefore, leaders will need to work harder to build cohesion and trust to maintain a positive employee experience. “We are hearing more and more from our customers that remote work does not promote creativity and the chance emergence of new ideas,” said Mr. Gentile of IMSA France. “It is necessary to develop the management tools to integrate remote work and social conditions.”
“In the future, working hours will be determined by the employees themselves; they will be responsible for organizing their working days,” said Hard-Olav Bastiansen, IMSA Norway. “The proof of the pudding will be the end product, not the number of hours an employee spent producing it or where they did the work.”
Human-centered leadership and essential agility
Pre-pandemic leaders focused on employee engagement as the primary driver of increased productivity, including a small but growing concern for employee well-being. The physical and mental health crisis of the pandemic is forcing leaders to prioritize the human needs of employees, driving a shift towards human-centered leadership, according to the IMSA report.
“In practice, human-centered leadership means a better understanding of employee needs and an attempt to meet those needs,” said Monika Ciesielska from IMSA Poland. “It means listening to the voice of employees and providing a space for them to express their opinions, share their concerns and not worry about the consequences. We are witnessing the acceleration of various large-scale human resources changes and transformations in the following areas: flexible and hybrid work models, employee experience, holistic employee well-being (physical, mental and emotional), cultures focused on goals, new technologies and digitization (including AI and automation, contactless technologies), global talent pools and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).
“Companies will need strategies in each of these areas to navigate change and prepare their workforces,” said Luminita Potorac-Roman from IMSA Romania. Agility has also become a top leadership skill, focusing on the needs of others, acknowledging others’ perspectives, and prioritizing teams over individuals. With the multiple forces of change impacting our world, agility is the most valuable leadership skill and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Yet, agility is a rare skill set and most organizations don’t know how to assess it. “The organizational design and leadership skills that enable agility are new and complex and cannot be determined simply by asking event-based behavioral questions,” Nirenberg said.
The employee experience
As the pandemic passes, companies around the world are investing in new initiatives and looking for top talent. The recruitment market is very competitive. To attract the best and the brightest, companies need to optimize their employee experience and employer value proposition, according to the IMSA report. “With so many managers in different physical locations, companies must prioritize building an organizational culture based on shared beliefs and values,” said Ms. Gunnar Storli.
Today, employers must manage the brand image of their company. In the future, new communication and management tools should continue to strengthen corporate culture and protect corporate DNA. “Careful attention to the employee experience and journey must be a top priority today,” Ms. Potorac-Roman said.
To read the full white paper Click here.
Related: Setting the Pace for Virtual Outplacement
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor; Dale M. Zupsansky, editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media