‘Look into my eyes’ …….. our MD’s predictions for an eventful 2018!

Here we are in January. The year lays out ahead – what’s it going to look like?

We grabbed half an hour with our MD, David, to get his predictions for the year ahead and opinions on some of the trends the recruitment space can expect to see over the next 12 months.

As usual he was happy to share his opinions…….

What do you think are the main economic issues & changes we are facing right now?

Of course the most obvious economic change will be the on-going discussion around Brexit. We’re a recruitment company that focuses on professionals in the private sector, so when it comes to this topic and its repercussions, we couldn’t be more in the eye of the storm.

Clearly, one of the main areas going to be affected by Brexit is the movement of talent. We will have fewer professional workers coming into the UK which will impact the talent available to fill roles and create a skills gap that needs to be plugged – and potentially a big problem in terms of easily finding those skills.

Interestingly, we haven’t heard of clients that are contingency planning for Brexit as yet or that have in place ‘Brexit talent strategy’ from a recruitment perspective…….. I am sure this will be something businesses embed this year.

As something slightly more left field that’s impacting our society, I predict our interest blockchain & cryptocurrency to grow. This could bring with it a wave of amateur investors – in fact if our office is anything to go by, its already started! Wider than this, I believe cryptocurrency will have an effect on retail and many will start to look at this as a viable form of payment in 2018, which will generally mean the most sceptical of consumers need to take it far more seriously.

What do you think are the key consumer trends on the rise?

Convenience continues to be increasingly important to consumers. Our interpretation of convenience is so different to how it used to be. No longer does it mean a visit to the corner shop, but it has evolved across the consumer landscape, particularly into digital services, such as the Amazon dot which drops your shopping at your house when you’re not there!

I think the desire for convenience is on the rise because people value their free time and view it as their most precious commodity. ABC consumers are trying to get time back for the gym, kids, cooking and holidays and have their finger on the pulse for developments that help achieve this. I recently used laundrapp when my washing machine broke – the service was exceptional and solved a problem with minutes, with minimal fuss.

There is a knock-on effect on businesses too. I can see that companies that give people the gift of time, whether that’s through working from home or increased working flexibility, are those that are going to win the never-ending war for talent. The traditional 9-5 norm is changing fast – we are moving towards a more task oriented work environment where people deliver against expectations. A recent brief for an Operations Manager with a tech business in the fine wine space came with global flexibility in the location for the role – the MD’s view was that if the right person is happiest working on a beach in Hawaii, then that was fine with him!

What are the current recruitment trends in the FMCG & Consumer sector?

In 2018, I envisage that top tier FMCG businesses will get better at tapping into the existing pool of Interim talent – this could be a concrete way to plug the talent shortage from Brexit.

In the FMCG and Consumer industry we have seen businesses flip-flopping back and forth between using internal recruitment teams and outsourcing to agencies. This year, I think there will be an increase in businesses moving towards outsourcing to a greater degree. FMCG businesses will look to carry as little fixed cost as possible and therefore outsourcing will feel like a more controlled way of managing this.

As the year progresses, I think the steps taken by FMCG brands to invest in digital will continue to grow. The days of a Brand Manager doing it all should start to move behind us as FMCG companies focus on fine tuning their digital offering and place more emphasis on recruiting specialist digital talent – watch this space as it’s one of the most competitive sectors I have seen for years!

Do you think HR Managers and Line Managers on the same page when it comes to recruitment planning?

It’s hard for HR and Line Managers to be on the same page when it comes to recruitment and there tends to be a disconnect of priorities which can hinder the process. HR Managers are impacted by the wider corporate environment and have various considerations such as procurement, budget and timescales. Line Managers have these elements to consider, but their inclination is to be far more focused on their NEED and the quality of candidates. This explains why they are more inclined to engage in a conversation around speculative candidates, even if they don’t have a live vacancy, providing they can see the long-term value the individual can bring.

HR & Line Managers need to find more common ground early in the process or there will continue to be an imbalance in how they prioritise cost, time and quality of hire.

Do you think the current style of recruitment differs between the large corporates and SMEs?

Without a doubt!! In SMEs, it’s often the MD or the most senior person who drives the hiring process, which has both pros and cons. Nearly all of the SMEs we work with rank securing the best candidate for the role above other factors, like cost or time. They prioritise the hiring of staff above other needs. SMEs are generally much better at engaging with people through social channels and sell themselves a lot better which contributes to their talent attraction strategy.

Within larger corporates, understandably there are more layers and a more structured hiring process. While there are good things about this, the most noticeable impact is the lack of human contact in the more automated process.

Do you believe it is possible that the FMCG & Consumer sector’s approach to talent attraction & retention can change in 2018?

Any major changes are unlikely if I am being honest.

We live in a short-term (snap chat!) society. Corporates make decisions based on quarterly results and city announcements meaning that a change of mindset is like steering the titanic away from the iceberg. We all know times are changing and those (millennials predominantly) entering the world of work are looking for more. They want a purpose. Graduate schemes of the top tier FMCG businesses of 20 years ago are no longer automatically at the top in terms of desirable avenues for school leavers / graduates. Other industries are making more interesting and attractive opportunities for that talent and I can’t see any great innovations from the Food & Drink sector that are winning their hearts and minds at present.

Greater collaboration within the FMCG sector and an increased focus on improving working practices could help push forward a shift in attitude and a change in mindset in 2018 and beyond. I hope this happens as the FMCG & Consumer sector is a great industry to get into – it would be a real shame to see the level of exceptional people entering the space continue to decline.

What are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Personally speaking, it’s going to be a really exciting year for Vertical Advantage. We have hired some exceptionally talented people in the 2nd half of 2017 so I am looking forward to seeing them grow, we have just doubled our office space and we have a company ski trip in March which is going to be a lot of fun!!

From an FMCG market perspective, I am most interested in following the growth of SMEs that breakthrough in 2018 & start to make the kind of impact that the likes of Lily’s Kitchen, Pip & Nut and Ugly Drinks have in recent times. There has been so much innovation in this space in the past few years and I am proud to say that the budding entrepreneurs who have set up many of these businesses are previous clients and candidates I have worked with over the years…… I will be watching on with interest!