Job security, a stable income and flexible working arrangements have been a priority for employees through the onslaught of COVID.
This has resulted in a significant drop in the rate of job applications in Australia, as SEEK data recently revealed that applications per job offer were down 32% from two years ago. In addition, the number of applications submitted by each candidate also fell by 15% on average.
For the arts sector, canceled events and travel restrictions saw even talented candidates struggle for a living, while those with some level of job security were discouraged from embarking on a new chapter or take on more ambitious roles.
Read: How to recruit for remote jobs
Richard Evans, who runs boutique consultancy firm REA, and is also the managing director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, told ArtsHub: âI feel like during COVID people stayed put, and indeed companies have (to the extent possible) withheld from publicity when it is difficult to get people to an in-person interview.
Likewise, Melbourne’s Jenny Egan, Human Resources and Employee Support Advisor at Rising Festival, said: âFor particular positions (higher roles), I certainly noticed that fewer people applied, although the caliber of applicants that we have had has been excellent. “
A NEW WORKFORCE
As states and workplaces gradually reopen with new immunization mandates to create a more stable economic environment, the job market could experience another turbulent change.
Released earlier this year, Microsoft’s 2021 Labor Trend Index revealed that a whopping 46% of the global workforce is considering a job change.
Ahead of the Rising Festival 2022, Egan hopes vaccinations and an end to instant lockdowns would encourage those who have left the industry to return quickly.
‘[With] With the international workforce of Working Holiday Visas and students practically non-existent, the demand for many positions certainly exceeds the current supply.
âWe encouraged people to apply even with a ‘gap in their CV’â¦ I think we’re seeing people coming back more recently – we’re a tough bunch in the arts! “
In addition, expectations regarding working conditions have undergone a huge change.
âRanging from more flexibility, loneliness and family time to more formality, camaraderie and a separation from their private lives, such inflection points always give rise to movements in the labor market,â said Evans.
On the flip side, Evans added that when the right approach is taken, a time of turmoil can also “strengthen people in their current roles, where they feel the employer has been loyal to them during a difficult time.”
With the Australia Institute reporting drastic job cuts in the creative and performing arts (32.5%) in the first three months of the pandemic in 2020, it would be especially important for people to assess their next steps in career if the workplace offered a sense of support and belonging. during this recovery phase.
Evans added that “there can also be a lot of completed projects delayed during the COVID years that people want to complete before they move on.”
Read: How long do you have to stay in your job?
CONFIDENCE AND FLEXIBILITY
Despite the initial adaptation phase when introducing work-from-home modalities, many candidates now view hybrid work modalities as a desirable, if not expected, asset to start a new role.
Changing expectations about workplace flexibility could mean that such discussions are useful to be addressed early on by recruiters and candidates.
âCOVID has provided a live testing environment to examine which roles can work remotely and which cannot, and what results in the workplace culture and communication,â Evans said.
âMy feeling is that most organizations have discovered that working from home [can function] in many roles, at least for a certain time of the week, and it’s not the disaster they might have thought of. Confidence has increased where people are doing well.
Further study of Microsoft’s survey revealed similar results, where balancing trust and flexibility is the best way for organizations to thrive with a hybrid work model.
Egan echoed, âWe have a fully hybrid workforce with really flexible working arrangements in our organization. I have certainly noticed that more and more companies are advertising it as a benefit. ‘
Additionally, for many organizations the work-from-home structure is likely to remain, both because of the office vaccination requirements and the added benefit that flexible arrangements can better suit individual circumstances.
“We have been successful over the past two years in collaborating effectively remotely, so why shouldn’t we be supporting him now if that’s what our employees want.”
Jenny Egan, Rising Festival
Additionally, as with any other workplace assessment, Evans stressed that HR and managers will need to determine how “different staff and different positions react differently to different parts of their lives.”
âPutting the right mix is ââthe special chemistry in building a high performance team,â he added.
MORE CHANGE TO COME?
With the loss of many qualified candidates as bottlenecks rocked the industry, an increasingly competitive job market has raised questions for recruitment in the arts.
The combination of a largely withdrawn international workforce, candidates who have changed careers for better job stability and the general lack of support for a living income in the industry will become urgent obstacles to the resumption of work. sector.
Festivals and events that encompass a wide range of arts, entertainment and hospitality professionals will no doubt face challenges, where “a lot of people have left for a safer industry that hasn’t been so hard. affected by blockages, âEgan said.
Evans added: “There is definitely a lot of competition for the right person, with the right skills and the right attitude. We are seeing skill gaps in some areas, which makes some positions very difficult to recruit. ‘
From Evans’ perspective, currently these skills gaps boil down to expertise that is needed in the arts, but not “tied” to the industry, such as CTOs and database analysts.
Likewise, Theater Network Australia (TNA) – which conducts an annual salary survey of small and medium-sized performing arts organizations – told ArtsHub that there had been fewer applications for more specialized positions such as general managers, finance and development.
TNA chief executive Joshua Lowe revealed that the 2021 salary survey showed 56% of organizations were planning a salary increase next year, down from just 46% in 2019.
âIt could be to retain or attract staff, with member organizations telling us that some staff are leaving for non-artistic careers,â Lowe said.
On the other hand, Evans said: âI think we can start to see companies being more flexible in their approach to recruiting in order to respond to the right candidate, but maybe not at the CEO and Art Director level. ”
Signaling similar trends in declining application and quit rates globally, SEEK and a recent article on RecruitShop suggested that recruiters are appealing to new values ââ- such as flexibility, company culture and l ‘skills enhancement – to attract new talent and keep existing ones on the bridge. .
While a passion for the arts is often the starting point of our careers, as a sector we need to think about what can restore worker confidence and propel this chapter of the recovery.