If the Covid pandemic brought change and the need to adapt to many different industry sectors, it’s arguable that the world of recruitment and people management has changed more than most.
Working life has changed irrevocably, hybrid working has become the norm, remote working is here to stay and employees are suddenly much more aware of what they want from their working lives…and what they don’t.
“I’ve heard it described as ‘The Great Resignation’,” says Mairead Scott, Managing Director of leading employment specialists, Honeycomb. “Suddenly, people aren’t afraid to look for new opportunities and to ask for what they want out of working life. If their current job doesn’t match up, they’ll simply leave.
“The old concept of Monday to Friday nine to five working is a thing of the past, broadly speaking,” she adds. “Employees are much more aware of what is important to them. They’re looking for work life balance alongside a satisfying career. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
As a result of those changes, employers are having to step up to the mark. “Everyone, large and small, is having to be much more creative when it comes to employment packages and conditions. It’s not all about salary any more. Working hours, flexibility, health and wellbeing all come into the equation.
“Bigger organisations like PwC and FinTrU here in Northern Ireland have been leading the way with some of the employee innovations that they’ve introduced, but other employers are on the same track. We’ve heard of unlimited holidays, we’ve heard of complete working flexibility, we’ve heard of sabbaticals…and much more.
“What has happened during Covid is that the world of work has become a lot more trustbased. Organisations are trusting their people to get the job done, whether they’re in an office or at home. It shouldn’t matter. As long as the productivity is there, no one has a problem.”
Based in central Belfast, and itself operating a hybrid working environment for its employees, Honeycomb was established five years ago and is a specialist in business support professionals, the kind of people who make almost any business tick.
It works across most sectors, including fintech, human resources, FMCG, supply chain and engineering, providing personal assistants, executive assistants, compliance professionals and other key people to a wide range of organisations across a number of sectors.
“It’s definitely a candidate’s market, there is no doubt about that,” says Mairead. “And there is a war for talent out there. But, then again, there has always been a war for talent in my opinion. Candidates know what they want and they’re not afraid to ask for it. If they don’t, they’ll drop out quickly.”
Good customer service professionals, she says, are in high demand, as are those with analytic skills able to provide support for sales, manufacturing and other functions. “There is also a real need for executive assistants with the potential to move on into leadership roles.”
Despite the current economic headwinds, Mairead Scott says that Honeycomb is firmly focussed on growth.
“We have a real appetite for growth. Companies and organisations here in Northern Ireland need trusted recruitment partners most than ever, and we want to be in a position to work with as many customers as we can over the coming months and years.
“This business is all about relationships – relationships between ourselves and our clients and relationships between employees and their employers. It’s every inch a people business. It might have changed a bit in recent times, but the fundamentals haven’t.