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Sense of reward

The first quarter of the year has been characterised by mixed fortunes within both financial services and the wider economy. From a recruitment perspective, many of the employers my consultants speak to are confident they have the necessary skills on board to support growth – but they worry about skill shortages or about their competitors plotting to poach their best people. The candidates we meet say they are ready to progress their careers- but some can’t see any room for that in their current company.

The impending RDR has undoubtedly coloured many people’s plans. Employers are under pressure to support those embarking on QCF level four studies. But while individuals may feel reasonably secure in their jobs, many see a new job as the only route to a more fulfilling career. The number of employers who remain unfazed by the prospect of imminent skill shortages indicates a disconnection between perceptions of talent availability but the reality on the ground is that nothing could be further than the truth.

Many candidates looking for management roles are becoming more impatient than they were during the recession, when the tactic for many was simply to avoid rocking the boat.

Now the tables have turned. People want development opportunities and most will not take much convincing to jump ship. Financial services firms depend on their managers’ ability to nurture good people, so those who neglect management coaching and support do so at their peril.

With business levels improving, employers are paying more attention to reward packages. Basic salaries, commission structures, bonuses, share schemes and pensions have all come under renewed scrutiny for competitiveness. Increasingly, organisations are offering flexible packages that allow employees to trade bene-fits, giving them greater choice and control. This ensures benefit packages add value and achieve objectives in terms of attracting, retaining and motivating employees.

Bonuses based purely or largely on team or company performance have tended to be popular with those in support roles but advisors tend to prefer being rewarded for their own input. Those in high-street banks, however, understand that an element of team bonus is necessary, especially for those who rely heavily on colleagues for warm leads or who coach colleagues.

Flexible working arrangements are enjoying higher prominence. Many professionals are seeking an element of home – or remote-working or flexible hours, so they can work around parenting or caring commitments, sports or volunteering. It’s a sign of the times that work/life balance can now be mentioned without appearing naive.

Interestingly, many of the professionals we meet say they like the option of working from home every now and then, or say they’re more productive if they can occasionally come in (and leave) a couple of hours early or stay into the evening and take time off the next morning. But most are social creatures who enjoy the camaraderie and support of the office. They don’t want to spend all or even most of their working hours away from their colleagues.

More people are voicing complaints about feeling over-worked. Many are being forced to handle record workloads in offices that have yet to return to pre-recession headcounts, some haven’t had a pay review for two or three years. Gone are the days when people felt lucky simply to be in work while others were being made redundant and candidate confidence is noticeably improving with each week.

Neil Soffe is a director at Hays Financial Services

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