With tech layoffs continuing into 2023, we look at factors employers and employees should think about if they want the labour market to work in their interests.
Talent shortages, skills gaps, a lack of experienced talent and high employee turnover over the past few months have all meant that employers are stuck between a metaphorical rock and a hard place.
They have had to up workplace benefits even in order to retain staff, never mind attract new team members. And upping benefits like salary or learning and development programmes can have an unintended knock-on impact on other areas of business – particularly in today’s volatile economy.
Jobseekers have been relatively lucky over the past few months; they have been able to use companies’ and employers’ struggles as leverage to negotiate better benefits and working conditions.
But will this last? How long can employers’ misfortunes continue?
The tide could turn
A report from December 2022 by Aon’s Ward benchmarking team posits that the tide may begin to turn. The labour market could swing in favour of employers before long, particularly with lay-offs in the tech sector and other industries.
While the report mostly focused on how the insurance industry fared in 2022, it did contain outlook estimations for the 2023 labour market.
Jeff Rieder, partner and head of insurance within Aon’s Ward benchmarking group, spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about some of these predictions.
For the insurance industry specifically, he said the team anticipates that the majority will increase their staff headcount in 2023.
Referencing the disastrous series of lay-offs by Big Tech companies over the past few months, Rieder said that the haemorrhaging of talent from companies like Twitter, Twilio and Wayflyer could prove advantageous to other sectors looking to hire tech staff.
“Over the past year, roles in technology ranked as the number one area that companies were expecting to grow,” he said.
“As [the] industry becomes more technology enabled, we should expect to see this trend continue.”
If Rieder is correct, this could provide some hope to the thousands of tech workers who have lost their jobs in recent times.
Even for those that have not been laid off, many will have been dealing with shrinking departments, losing colleagues and hearing doom-laden forecasts about the tech sector.
While the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends Guide for 2023 predicted a continuation of positivity for the Irish labour market overall, the tech sector’s outlook was not so sunny.
Maureen Lynch, operations director at Hays Ireland observed a “cautious mood” among Irish tech professionals.
Similarly, IDA Ireland’s annual report from 2022 struck a note of negativity with Leo Varadkar, who was Tánaiste at the time of the report’s publication, saying he expected challenges such as tech lay-offs to continue into 2023.
“Ireland has not been immune to the challenges created by global events of recent months, and we expect those to continue into 2023,” Varadkar said.
“I know it’s a difficult time for people working in tech companies as we enter the Christmas and New Year period.” Varadkar is currently Taoiseach, having changed role in December 2022.
Already we are seeing that the cautious mood Lynch spoke of is continuing into 2023, bringing more bad news. In the past few weeks, people have been told they are being laid off by Big Tech players such as Alphabet, Spotify and Microsoft.
Last November, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy warned that his company would continue laying off staff in 2023. The bad news is unfortunately likely to keep coming.
It may sound trite, but the 2023 labour market will not be 100pc awful – even for people working in tech.
As Rieder and others have said, there are lots of industries crying out for technology skills as industries are constantly looking to adopt digital ways of doing business. All kinds of diverse industries have openings for technology workers – and they are willing to provide good benefits.
As Rieder said, these benefits have evolved beyond mere compensation – especially since the pandemic.
“Employees want to know that they have a clear career path, opportunities to develop their skills and a flexible working environment.”
For Irish workers, numerous reports in recent months dealing with various aspects of the labour market have indicated that workplace culture and the cost-of-living are top concerns going into 2023.
Employers that are able to deal with workers’ concerns in these areas will surely have an easier time of it when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
It remains to be seen whether 2023 will actually be an employers’ market but there certainly is a palpable shift in dynamics occurring – mainly from the fallout of the tech sector lay-offs.
But if employees are willing to look beyond some of the jobs they might usually go for and if employers are willing to reward good work, then things might not turn out quite so bad after all.
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