H2 2023 Market Update: HR Job Market in EMEA

12 mins

Below is an HR market update for H2 2023 from our EMEA Consultants. Starting with an overvie...

Below is an HR market update for H2 2023 from our EMEA Consultants. Starting with an overview of the market from the regional Managing Director we then move onto updates from Financial and Professional services, Commerce and the wider European market.

Overview of the HR Market from Managing Director, Kirstin Hunt

We began H2 by enjoying our annual HR Summer Drinks event where we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with so many of our HR contacts. Momentum gained across the job market in September with retained work in Dubai and London. We saw an increase in hiring for mid-level HR Business Partners, Organisational Development, Learning & Development, and Transformation & Change. There has also been an increased focus on Reward, across Analyst to Director level. 

The results of our annual Global HR Survey were recently published, I wanted to share a few of the salient points raised from this year; the biggest priority for individuals when searching for a new role is work-life balance with the sweet spot seeming to be a 3-day return to the office although I would caveat that, to say several hedge funds, private equity and asset management firms are pushing for more, so it will be interesting to see the impact of this in 2024. A positive and inclusive culture with a flexible approach will be key in securing and retaining top talent over the next 12 months. HR teams will continue to grow in 2024, albeit we will see a cautious market for the foreseeable, but where there is a need to upskill or restructure teams the requirement for the right talent will be there. Most HR professionals feel they are paid under market rate and from various discussions this year many of our HR contacts are having to do more with less, and for HR leaders this has meant less ability to always add the right level of strategic value and input.  

It will undoubtedly continue to be a competitive job market and we want to work closely with our candidates to ensure there is the time taken to research and prepare appropriately for interviews in order to demonstrate a genuine interest in both the company and the specific position for which they are applying. For our clients, it is essential to move away from posing a list of competency and technical questions to candidates and, instead, provide a deeper understanding of the business, culture, team, compensation and broader benefits. Candidates are looking for more transparency in their job search and a more open and two-sided dialogue during the process. 

Please reach out to any of the team if you would like specific feedback on the market, any benchmarking data or just to check in. Their details follow their updates below. 

Finally, we continue to host regular HR related events with the last six months including; roundtable discussions around coaching, a networking event with HR Tea Time, an evening in conversation with Nicky Garcea talking about AI in the TA space and more, you can read about all our past events via our blog. I have continued the HR Delve cohorts for HRD’s with key note speakers including Hein Knappen discussing “What Drives Company Performance and the role of HR”  and Nhlamu Dlomu, Global Head of HR, KPMG discussing the “Future of Work”  There is still so much on the HR agenda and these sessions have been invaluable to share and discuss the key priorities around upskilling managers, the return to the office, ESG and AI. Looking ahead the key themes being discussed include creating/maintaining the right organisational culture, working in close partnership with the business and c-suite to drive strategy and further upskilling and developing talent. 

For more information on our events or to read more of our content; click here.

You can get in touch with Kirstin on LinkedIn or at kh@elliottscotthr.com


A Financial and Professional Services Update from Peter Fahy and Hannah Russell

In the Financial and Professional Services market, we’ve seen several trends maintained throughout the second half of 2023. There is still robust demand for highly specialised positions, although the focus has transitioned from Learning and Talent Development to Reward. Simultaneously, the pace of processes remains slow, with roles and candidates undergoing reassessment at each stage in the process.

During Q3, there has been a slight but noticeable rise in Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) roles, including those offered as fixed-term contracts (FTC). In terms of hybrid working arrangements, the landscape continues to change. Professional Services and Insurance typically have a standard of two days in-office, while Banking leans towards three days. On the buy side, there is a more intensive approach, with employees committed to four to five days of office presence each week. This shift in the distribution of workdays reflects the nuanced response of the financial services sector to hybrid working. 

The meticulous evaluation of roles and candidates seen at each hiring stage underscores the importance of both precision in the hiring process, and the role’s business case. The aforementioned uptick in HRBP roles, including fixed-term contracts, suggests a strategic approach to human resources management, possibly driven by a need for flexibility and specific expertise. We are seeing more candidates becoming open to FTC’s as they are a means to work around headcount freezes as opposed to an increase in demand to fill gaps.

 You can get in touch with Peter or Hannah on LinkedIn or at pf@elliottscotthr.com or hr@elliottscotthr.com


Emerging HR Leaders within Financial and Professional Services Update from Uche Soile

The Emerging HR Leaders market, specifically within Financial and Professional services, remains dynamic. Individuals in this sector are actively contemplating their next career steps, whether through internal conversations or exploring external opportunities. Notably, organisations are implementing buy-back strategies to retain valuable talent.

There is an increasing number of candidates expressing interest in transitioning between roles, such as from Early Careers to HR functions, or from HR operations/generalist roles to HR Business Partnering and vice versa.

From a candidate attraction standpoint, in my experience, it would seem that around 55% of professionals in these sectors are open to returning to the office for up to 4 days, especially if it comes with higher compensation, clear career progression, and more client-facing responsibilities. This sets the stage for an interesting hybrid working landscape in 2024, with around 3 in 5 of my daily calls still stating that they would prefer some flexibility.

The demand for roles in Benefits, Reward, Learning, Talent Development, and Early Careers remains robust among our clients. Additionally, there's a gradual uptick in demand for HR Operations, HR Generalist, Advisor, and Assistant roles, a trend expected to intensify post-bonus in Q1-Q2 of 2024.

You can get in touch with Uche on LinkedIn or at us@elliottscotthr.com


Wider European Market Update from Suzanne Atkinson 

The conversation around hybrid working has continued throughout H2 although it has moved on to being more around how we support managers in this new environment. The skills required to manage in a hybrid, or even remote environment, are different. To add to this, there is also the additional factor of demographics. HR professionals are now balancing the expectations and needs of an ageing workforce, alongside Gen X and Z who have very different expectations from their employer and their career. The challenge of how we attract, reward, retain and develop these diverse populations will continue.

This quarter has seen me spending more time in my ‘home’ of Scotland. It has been incredible connecting, and reconnecting with my network. Scotland has changed a lot since I left in 2008, however, much remains the same. Organisations have merged and refocused, particularly in Financial Services. The market remains dynamic and vibrant with a tendency toward fixed-term contracts, combining both HR business partnering skills alongside transformation and change management elements giving the roles a mix of relationship and project skills.  

The market in Scotland tends to focus on UK-based roles, with regional coverage. This adds a layer of complexity in terms of ensuring visibility, understanding local practices, legislations and culture. International exposure in start-up and scale-up organisations are growing by acquisition, it’s really interesting to talk to my network about how they navigate this in a fast paced environment, often in a standalone role. Many of our clients seek candidates with international exposure, I am always open to connecting on this, if you are seeking your next international role, or are looking to find someone, based in Scotland with that international lens contact me via my details below. 

Across Europe, there remains some nervousness in the market with recruitment processes taking time while employers think through their hiring decisions. H2 for many has been around refocusing and realigning the workforce with the new business strategy. I think 2024 will see an upturn in the market with the HR Business Partnering area picking up, but with a focus on development and preparing workforces with the skills and knowledge to support the business strategy going forward.

You can get in touch with Suzanne on LinkedIn or at sa@elliottscotthr.com


A Commerce Update from Tom Dover

The HR job market across Commerce has continued against a backdrop of uncertainty and caution, echoing the trends observed in the preceding quarter. Despite the much-needed respite provided by summer holidays, the sector faced challenges and adaptations influenced by the evolving business landscape. 

In comparison to the noticeable spike witnessed in Q2, based on our roles, this quarter's surge was more tempered, marking a departure from the 20% increase observed the previous year. Vacancies saw an uptick of 5%, indicating a measured pace in hiring activities. The prevailing theme of businesses scrutinising headcount and implementing cost reduction strategies, a carryover from the first half of the year, continued to shape HR dynamics in H2.

A notable trend was the slowdown in senior-level opportunities, particularly affecting HR Directors (HRDs). This was most prominent in the Media sector, where leaders, impacted by the 'writer's strike', explored new possibilities without finding the anticipated opportunities for career progression.

Conversely, within the Tech landscape, both legacy and hyper-growth sectors exhibited sustained movement, focusing on HR Transformation. Talent Development and Organisation Effectiveness spaces experienced noteworthy activity, showcasing the adaptability and resilience of certain sectors.

The Luxury retail sector saw a steady influx of HR Business Partner (HRBP) and Employee Relations (ER) roles. Companies in this space aimed to solidify their corporate structures in preparation for that crucial trade period, emphasising the importance of HR functions in shaping workflow frameworks.

With a departure from the typical flow of HRBP roles throughout the year, the standout narrative of 2023 has been the increased emphasis on Compensation and Benefits roles across all levels. These positions not only addressed traditional responsibilities related to year-end cycles but emerged as pivotal tools for driving growth and enhancing the overall value proposition of businesses. Against the backdrop of issues like the cost-of-living crisis, organisations actively sought creative solutions to remain competitive in the market, positioning Comp and Bens experts at the forefront of this strategic movement.

Throughout Q4, the momentum in Comp and Bens roles is anticipated to persist, reflecting the sustained need for creative solutions in a dynamic market. Similarly, HR transformation experts are expected to maintain their prominence, contributing to the evolving HR landscape. However, for HRD leaders, significant movements are not projected until 2024 when the trajectory of businesses across diverse sectors becomes clearer. The intricate jostling of adaptation and strategic planning in the HR job market continues, mirroring the evolving needs of businesses in a dynamic global environment.

You can get in touch with Tom on LinkedIn or at td@elliottscotthr.com