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November Market Update

November Market Update

by Luke Butler

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A number of interesting trends are now appearing across the talent landscape. None of these are overly surprising, despite their sharp contrast to previous predictions. The thirst for information is rife as evidenced by the number of calls we are receiving from business leaders trying to navigate the new talent climate. On the plus side, many of our clients across NSW and QLD are reporting excellent trading conditions. Early indications suggest this will be replicated in Victoria which is excellent news.

The Executive market is faring relatively well however a sector by sector analysis will uncover a mix of results. There has been reasonable activity across accommodation and contract catering with several senior leadership roles being removed. This has created a relatively talent rich environment with many exceptional executives willing to review new opportunities.

Within the on-premise sector, the struggle is real. Any predictions of an abundance of talent within the hospitality sector have been dispelled as operators are finding it very challenging to fill roles of any description!

From Hastings’ perspective, application volumes for operational roles in both front and back of house are much lower than pre-COVID levels. The tail end of the year is traditionally a low-movement period with senior executives choosing to stay with their current employers through the busy period. This mindset is further strengthened as we emerge from the pandemic with reinforced loyalty being shown to employers. This is certainly not making recruitment impossible; it is simply lengthening the process and resulting in a higher time investment.

Prolonged border closures are placing further pressure on the talent market. Where we would normally see considerable talent movement across the east coast primarily, there is a high level of reluctance being driven by mandatory quarantine protocols in Queensland and the slow return from the extended lockdown in Victoria. Relocation is now a much bigger challenge than it once was. If you are looking for talent (especially talent that can commence rapidly) your best option is to look locally.

Beyond leadership positions, the primary challenge lies with casual staff. We simply don’t have enough skilled casual workers to meet demand and this is where the real pain is going to be felt across the festive period. I was speaking with the owner of one Sydney’s top groups this week. He indicated that they have had to close venues on occasion simply because they did not have enough staff to operate. We have not yet hit the peak of the festive season, so this is sure to become a bigger challenge.

What does all of this mean?

If you are in the market for an executive leader, now is a good time to move. You will likely engage with talent that might otherwise be unavailable or less willing to speak. This part of the market is highly likely to return soon and when it does, I predict it will be with enthusiasm.

For on premise operators, looking after staff is more important than ever. We are once again facing a situation where there will be more work available than there are workers. While this may only last a few months over the holiday period, team members should have no problem finding a role.