If 2016 was to leave a legacy it might read “uncertainty is the new certainty.” Businesses understandably find it harder to plan with question marks over trade deals, taxes, access to single markets and workforce availability. In 2008 we in the recruitment world saw this translate into defensive behaviour throughout the market; candidates were less likely to move fearing “last in first out” from their new employer and many businesses cut headcount and halted all but essential project investment.
The period that followed was extremely challenging and I’ll admit to being very nervous in 2016 when it looked like we were in for a repeat. Fortunately this has not come to fruition. In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote we did see a handful of clients and candidates behaving defensively, however as 2016 came to a close we saw clients across all sectors and industries continuing to invest in new talent. Returning to work in 2017 the FTSE has been at a record high, consumer spending and credit remains unchanged and house prices continue to rise. Candidates are open to new opportunities and our clients are discussing new roles so my overriding feeling is the market is cautiously confident.
Personally I feel that employers and employees who are inert at this time risk falling behind. In 2008 we saw that companies who were able to invest or retain talent came out exponentially ahead of those who took a hatchet to their businesses. The candidates that took bold moves were able to rapidly accelerate their experience, fine tuning their commercial acumen and undertaking a broad range of tasks and projects.
Without doubt we are facing unprecedented times, one thing is clear for me though; uncertainty is here to stay. Encouragingly it appears that this is accepted, we are resilient, and the market will press ahead in 2017.
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