Learning the lessons of 2021, part 2

The outlook for employers and employees

The start of a new year is always a good time to take a fresh look at what has changed in our markets and to reassess what matters – both for those with roles to fill and for those looking for new opportunities. These questions loom larger than ever, at a time when there is more cause for optimism than 12 months ago, but still a lot of uncertainly.

In our first article , the Halcyon team looked at how the global maritime recruitment market has changed in the past year and the state of the market going into 2022.

In this article, Ben Darnton, our Commercial Director, Cara Carter, our APAC Director, and Heidi Heseltine, our CEO, share their views on the challenges facing employers and jobseekers in 2022, and the ongoing impact of COVID on candidates’ attitude towards seeking out a new role.

What challenges do you anticipate employers facing in 2022 with respect to the attraction and retention of talent? How might these be overcome?

Ben Darnton argues that employers need to embrace flexibility when it comes to what they can offer their preferred candidates:

“In a world with reduced mobility, the talent pool will be shallower than ever. Companies wishing to hire and retain the best talent will need to be more flexible in adapting to an individual's needs and preferences, and be prepared to hire for attitude and potential, rather than experience.”

APAC employers will face specific challenges when it comes to the limited pool of talent able to move to the region, creating real demand for those who are looking for a new role, according to Cara Carter:

“Although maritime has historically offered great global mobility, with the pandemic being ongoing, the appetite for local talent has increased, which may restrict options for international candidates.”

“In the APAC region, there is a shortage of talent, and this will tighten as governments reduce the number of and length of employment passes. This leads to a candidate driven market and higher salary demands, so clients will need to position themselves as a positive workplace and differentiate themselves from their competitors, such as by salary and benefits.”

To address these challenges, Heidi Heseltine believes that leadership teams need to take a longer-term, strategic, and data-driven approach to the role of people in their organisation.

“The fundamental question to ask is ‘how do you attract talent that you need to sustain and build on your organisation’s future’. For many organisations, this should include making far greater use of data to drive informed decision-making when it comes to hiring, developing, and remunerating staff. Employees are also looking increasingly for greater equity in remuneration and access to career development opportunities. This is a sufficiently important question that it requires an organisation’s C-Suite to play a much more proactive role in shaping their internal culture and employee strategy.”

What impact has COVID-19 had on the appetite for candidates to change roles? Is this likely to change in the near future?

Although the global maritime market is buffeted by a range of factors, it is COVID and the wider consequences of the pandemic that will still dominate in 2022. According to Ben, the huge uncertainly this creates will continue to shape the motives and behaviour of candidates:

“Jobseekers have become more risk averse, which for many means that it is ‘better the devil you know’ when it comes to remaining with their current employer. Whilst COVID and governments’ response to it has been so unpredictable, the impact on people's confidence has been significant.”

“Looking ahead, people are getting used to a COVID driven world. This means that job seekers are now looking at job opportunities with one eye on what it means for their home lives and their work-life balance. Where once people would be happy to relocate, they are now thinking ‘what does it mean if I can’t get home to see my family?’. With continued COVID related uncertainty, this isn’t set to change any time soon.”

Cara agrees that many would-be jobseekers will be cautious about moving between roles in such uncertain times, but also points out the importance of how supportive their current employer has been. If they have not received the support they expected, they may be tempted by opportunities at an organisation that will do better at meeting those expectations:

“Some are nervous about changing roles due to the pandemic. This includes how well a company can onboard new joiners if there are further COVID restrictions. However, other candidates are unhappy with their existing employers handling of the pandemic, such as a lack of communication and support, limited home-working resources, or being ordered back to work without consultation. Those candidates are keen to find an employer that engages with their employees more.”

“COVID has also led to many considering their options in terms of work-life balance, location, commuting time, and being closer to family. This shows how much candidates value stability and security, and the importance of a strong company reputation.”

For Cara, the pandemic has an impact on the attractiveness of different regions to job seekers:

“We have seen a noticeable trend of expat candidates in APAC looking to return closer to their home countries. The pandemic and increasing restrictions in Hong Kong are having a significant impact, making locations such as the Middle East more attractive than they have been for some time for those looking to relocate.”

Looking beyond COVID, Heidi points to the fast-growing importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) for employees when considering their next career move, as well as other factors that are transforming the maritime sector: “Candidates are increasingly looking at employers’ ESG practices when making career decisions. Forward thinking, progressive and inclusive organisations are in demand. What’s more, with greater collaboration and transparency across the industry on matters such as decarbonisation, and diversity and inclusion combined with rapid technological advancements, jobseekers are going to be increasingly selective in their employment choices. Employers will need to move quickly to stay ahead of that curve.”

We hope you enjoyed this look at what lies ahead in 2022.

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