The Shape of the HR Market Entering the New Financial Year

Following on from my market update as the Covid-19 pandemic began, we are some 3 months on and I’m pleased to report that the HR job market has improved!

The workload for HR professionals, particularly HR Business Partners, has increased significantly over this period and so understandably the function is suffering broadly from a bit of fatigue, but there is no doubt the pandemic has raised the profile of HR, particularly in those organisations where HR did not previously have as much of a voice.

Some of the major issues and areas of focus for my Clients include:

  • Health and wellbeing of their people.
  • Helping leaders to manage a dispersed workforce.
  • Workforce management (job continuity and scenario planning for what their workforces will look like in the near future).

Some observations about the different areas of HR:

Employee Relations – with so many employee relations and industrial relations issues, this is one area that has been in huge demand. For our Clients, this has proved problematic, as there was already a shortage of talent in this space prior to the pandemic. Interestingly we have noticed some smaller organisations have added ‘well-being’ to the remit of current or new ER roles. I anticipate this will continue to be in high demand for the next 12 months and I would recommend any active HR generalists with deep ER experience to highlight this in their resume and with your recruiters.

Work Health & Safety / Well-being – the people in these roles have really just been focusing their attention on the significant COVID-19 safety threats to employees and then the health (mental and physical) impacts of working remotely. We have noticed that some white-collar businesses are adding more heads to their current WHS/ teams.

Remuneration/Reward – the end of FY20 meant the inevitable influx of reward roles still came about – mostly on a temp basis. And with the financial services sector being one of the busiest sectors during this time, there has been a real increase in the need for strong governance and executive reward capability. An increasing number of smaller organisations have added a performance element to the Reward remit by linking it to the remuneration strategy.

HR Generalists – Currently there are a large number of candidates looking for generalist HR roles at most levels. Clients are still hiring these types of roles, but if you are looking it is important to define your USP and to get ‘interview-fit’ so that you can give yourself a point of difference.

Talent Acquisition – unsurprisingly, this has been the worst hit function as companies have slowed down their hiring. This has provided time to work on candidate experience, talent pooling, data insights, video interviewing, testing, diversity mapping, and hiring manager training.

Organisational Design – inevitably Clients are going to be seeking candidates with strong capability in this space and ideally with some sort of workforce transformation experience.

Some other food for thought:

The candidate market is generally split into 3 areas at the moment. There are those who are very active as they have been out of work for a while or recently lost their role. Then you have 2 other pools of candidates – those who will move and those who are staying put. It is these 2 pools which are most interesting. Prior to Covid the pool of passive candidates who might move was pretty big, as most talented career driven HR professionals were always open to a career conversation. The uncertainty of the market has meant this pool has reduced somewhat as people become more cautious. But here’s the thing – that then makes it less competitive for good candidates genuinely keen to make a move. There could be a real window of opportunity for great people to find new roles while others are remaining cautious. This is particularly true in specialist HR roles.

Job advertising for HR roles continues to increase in numbers on LinkedIn and in Seek. There is a decent amount of data to back this up but we are certainly seeing that at Peoplecorp. And the volume of roles we have taken briefs on in the past few weeks is significantly up on April and May.

Where people will work has been one of the most discussed topics for our Clients. Most businesses are finding their workforces split between those wanting to return to the office and those who are very happy continuing to work from home. And this isn’t just driven by people’s anxieties over their health. Many have got used to the very fluid ways of working, and whilst it is a huge step forward in terms of addressing flexible working practices, it is also a potential problem for organisations who still need to have a ‘hub’ for their people still. We have been giving plenty of advice to our Clients on what we are seeing others do in this regard.

There is always opportunity out of a crisis, and we are seeing a number of Clients certainly take this approach. A few sectors continue to hire throughout all of this and other businesses are using this time to redesign their HR teams. We have helped a few businesses by conducting highly confidential searches as they restructure their function.

I specifically recruit permanent HR roles in the mid-senior market, and can gladly introduce you to one of our wider team of Consultants covering contract and permanent recruitment at all levels.

For any information on the HR job market or advice on your search please reach out to