In a piece first published by PM MagazineTotum Consultant Emma Johnston takes a look at the recruitment market into 2023 and argues the case for a flexible mindset.

A year for agile thinking

As we come towards the end of another eventful year in terms of global change and challenge, we are starting to look ahead towards 2023 and likely developments across recruitment. While it’s ever difficult to make any specific predictions when so much is in flux, we know that the workplace has changed massively. We expect this shift to combine with these uncertain times to create a new landscape for recruitment decision-making among marketing and business development (BD) teams into 2023.

The hybrid workplace

The new workplace is reflected in recent findings from our fourth ‘Return to the office’ survey, which we have conducted in six-monthly intervals since March 2021.

Of the firms that responded to our survey, 89% now have a hybrid-working or homeworking policy compared to 75% in March 2022. And for 70%, it’s a formal policy that applies to the whole business, with most firms either adopting a 40%-office / 60%-home-working policy or 40%-home-working / 60%-office arrangement. For 61% of firms, these policies are also a permanent change, with a further 34% still trialling their approach.

This change will have long-term implications for recruitment, but particularly for marketing and BD teams that are typically one of the larger business services functions in the professional services sector, requiring a huge variety of skills and capabilities, often bringing together global offices.

In this respect, hybrid offers an important advantage. Nearly half of our respondent firms think that a key benefit of hybrid working is the ‘broader talent pool’: marketing and BD teams can source candidates from further afield and take on talented professionals that need more flexible arrangements.

But individuals in this market may also be more willing to move on, feeling less plugged in to any one firm, team or role. No wonder, then, that our survey found 91% of respondents pinpointed ‘lack of team cohesion’ as a key disadvantage of the hybrid workplace – a potential problem for marketing functions in which teams coming together can often provide an important source of innovation and creativity.

Heads of marketing and BD will have to work harder than ever to ensure they find ways to engage employees if they want to retain their best talent. But there’s also an opportunity here for such leaders to embrace the opportunities of this landscape to take their teams to the next level of agility.

Interim, contract and temporary roles: Room for manoeuvre

In particular, with so much more choice about the ways in which people work, the interim, temporary and contract market is proving a particularly exciting area of recruitment right now, in which we are seeing new opportunities continue to accelerate, driven by environmental and societal factors.

Most obviously, interim, temporary or contract placements are used to fill a gap in resource requirements (to cover maternity leave or a secondment, for example), or to cover additional resource requirements (due to increased workload or seasonal changes) when the function may not be able to take on additional headcount. Unexpected absences and/or long-term sick leave can equally drive the need for short-term cover. Having the ability to quickly up and downscale requirements is an essential part of any agile resourcing strategy.

But the advantages of shorter term placements in today’s market go further. When nothing in the business landscape has stood still for long, adopting a flexible mindset could be key to adapting quickly to changing market conditions.

In this climate, interim, temporary and contract roles can offer huge opportunities, allowing teams to source additional skills quickly as needed, bring in fresh perspectives, tackle important change management projects or campaigns that extend beyond the function’s existing capacity, and assign resource to exactly where it is needed to meet fast-shifting requirements.

Temporary, contract and interim placements can also offer firms the flexibility to find the right fit: marketing and BD teams may take on a candidate in a short-term placement with the view that the role could become permanent. This can suit both the function and candidates very well – enabling a ‘try before you buy’ approach that allows both sides to see how things pan out before making a longer-term commitment. As the recruitment process for short-term placements tends to be much quicker, this approach allows people to get on with the job sooner rather than later, providing advantages to all parties.

At a time of huge flux, this allows functional heads to think creatively and move quickly in terms of potential candidates; it can be easier to make the case for hiring candidates from other sectors or backgrounds when it’s a shorter term placement. Those new recruits then provide a fresh influx of ideas and experiences, with many of them becoming permanent once they’re established in the team.

Meeting the challenges

We see the next year as one in which BD and marketing leaders will have to work hard to look after the talent they already have, as well as ensuring that inductions for new starters make them feel fully part of what will be a hybrid team.

But, equally, we are seeing more candidates than ever enjoying the flexibility of the new workplace – and wanting more of it. The interim, contract and temporary market is attracting a fantastic pool of talent, giving firms the agility to respond with confidence to whatever challenges lie ahead.

For more information and to discuss the key topics covered contact [email protected]

Click here to see a PDF version of the piece as it originally appeared in PM Magazine. 

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