Following my thoughts from 2018, below I look ahead to 2019. Before you jump down and see what may happen, let’s start with what did happen in 2018.
To start, I predicted that in 2018 Tier-1 firms would increasingly undertake longer duration work. Judging from the project experience we have seen on CV’s in 2019 this is certainly the case, with many individuals having worked on long-term, transformation-driven projects such as optimising procurement functions, pushing the digitisation and automation agenda, and reshaping operating models. Consequentially this means that individuals coming to market with only 2 years consulting experience may not have gained the diversity of experience enjoyed by previous generations, having only ever worked on 3 or 4 projects.
Secondly, I predicted that talent would continue to express a preference for small and mid-sized companies and this one certainly proved true and it seems will continue to gain even more momentum in 2019. Many of our talent are coming to us for small/mid-sized opportunities. In terms of ratios, less than half of people we talk to nowadays will consider opportunities in large incumbent organisations, with the other half more than happy to take the necessary pay cut (in base salary and total package) to go to a smaller high-growth company.
Thirdly, I predicted the resurgent rise of the boutique and although we have seen some take up the challenge, this has not grown at the pace necessary to offer viable and volume niche offerings to concern both the tier-1 and tier-2 consulting firms. If you are thinking of targeting an industry or functional niche then 2019 might just be the time to go for it!
So, on to 2019, here are my thoughts for the year ahead:
Up or Down?
Much has already been written about the ups and downs of the share market, but we now also have to throw into the mix falling house prices, impending state and federal elections, and more pessimistic company forecasts. Such uncertainty can lead to companies retreating into their shells, manifesting itself in longer decision times, projects being deferred, teams making do with existing resources rather than hiring. So, will 2019 be an up or down year? Only time will tell but in both good and bad times some companies do well, and some do not. The question is: will your company move forward or be left behind? Furthermore, will the leaders be brave and play for the upside or play it safe? We speak with people every day about where they want to be and growth (ideally at both company and individual level) is where the majority of talent wants to play.
Tenure trending downwards
Gone are the days of 5 years in a job, something that used to demonstrate mastery, and now we are in the era where individuals should, can, and will change roles every 2 years. This might well be a by-product of companies hiring talent grown in a consulting firm setting (with 2 year up-or-out policies) of course but this does cause issues given not everyone can change roles every 2 years! The fundamental issue is that tenure in roles increases as seniority increases - less jobs, less liquidity, longer timelines given to deliver results. So, how will a generation who have only known regular change respond to roadblocks further down the line? Will they conform or rebel, and what does rebellion actually look like other than frustration which eventually we learn to tolerate? How companies respond to this, only time will tell but Human Resource teams and line managers should surely have this topic on their radar as these conversations become more frequent.
Gig for life (and money)
We are seeing more and more people leaving permanent roles to become on-demand individuals. Consequentially freelancing becomes socially and professionally acceptable. Furthermore, as companies move to be more project driven (think growth sprints and transformation projects in companies, think boutique consulting firms with few employees and a bench of on-demand talent) this nimble and agile workforce seems to dovetail into this scenario nicely. Having seen this topic consistently flagged in recent years it appears, unless there is legislative or economic change, this is now a very viable, and for some very lucrative, career path with less stigma attached than with previous working generations.
To conclude, there are no doubts we live in increasingly uncertain times (have we ever not lived in uncertain times?), with many factors influencing the decisions both companies and individuals will make in 2019. Perhaps this is simply just the new normal of business and careers. Whichever way we go it would be great to hear from you with your thoughts on my predictions, and if we can help you makes sense and navigate through these as an individual or organisation then feel free to get in touch.