2014 looks to be a year of opportunity and change

2014 looks to be a year of opportunity and change as the UK job market returns to good health. In turn HR practitioners are looking to their own futures. Perhaps unsurprisingly London seems to be leading the charge with the resurgence of the financial and professional services market resulting in the emergence of skills shortages in certain areas. As a dedicated HR specialist, Frazer Jones are a good litmus test for the fortunes of HR professionals and we are starting to see a number of trends emerging.

The demand for organisations to have more detailed and effective reward and remuneration functions has been clearly visible to us from the number of companies who are investing in and expanding their reward capability. Within this space the appetite to enhance and invest in HRIS and big data has now been gathering a pace for well over 12 months. With the economic outlook improving, companies are now combining their reward data with their talent retention strategies. Increasingly, companies have an awareness that competition has now returned to the market and that their key talent is under threat of being poached. The adjustment of the balance of power between employee and employer still sits marginally with the employer. However there are strong signs that there will be equilibrium between the two this year, with the return to the employee market of the mid to late 2000’s looking more and more familiar.

If you are sitting within either of the talent attraction or talent development specialisms you may also be finally starting to erase the horror of the last five years from your mind. Development professionals have become a hugely active area for a large number of organisations over the last 12 months as they look to upgrade, enhance or in some cases, establish a development function. This has been driven by a combination of carrot and stick with a number of businesses wanting to enhance their employee value proposition to proactively retain talent, whilst others have had to react to long overdue demands of poor investment in their employee base. The legacy of the economic downturn within talent attraction is already visible. What will be equally interesting will be how a buoyant and growing economy will shape the structure and function of these when it is much harder to find the key talent that organisations are looking for.

Retention is now starting to become a word we hear more and more about from organisations across the board. The Office for National Statistics recently released data stating that employment was up 105,000 from August to October 2013 and up 459,000 on the year to 30.19 million for November 2013 to January 2014. Pay including bonuses for November 2013 to January 2014 was 1.4% higher than the previous year, with pay excluding bonuses 1.3% higher. Whilst these statistics are fairly limited in their coverage they do reinforce the fact that the employment market is shifting and for HR professionals at the top of their game they may find themselves being courted by multiple prospective employers. One of the many interesting factors that indicate the change in mood and confidence for 2014 is the shift within the human capital consulting space. Where in recent years their work has been largely focused on cost reduction, outsourcing and transformation to drive efficiencies, their work is now moving more towards a focus on retention, talent and internal mobility.

So what does this mean for a HR practitioner thinking about their next career step? In essence this is good news; the market is now at a pivotal point whereby it is swinging away from contraction and stagnation in to sustainable growth. It means that if you have been lucky and savvy over the last few years then you will have built a skill set that is now highly attractive to other organisations and you can quickly deploy in your next role. It also means that we are at the start of what will be a long and consistent ascent in the employment market, both in Europe and also globally.