Interviews

‘Salaries are increasing by 100%’

David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at The Grace Blue Partnership on the price of talent and the truth about ‘the great resignation’.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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The Great Resignation; the prediction which has proved to be so much more than just a great headline. In the wake of a pandemic in which life often appeared to be on hold across the industry, employees are choosing change. 

While business leaders may call it churn; the truth is that a more fundamental change is afoot; employees and consumers alike are seeking a sense of control and a feeling of progress. “The Great Resignation is a reality,” explains David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at The Grace Blue Partnership, who believes there is a huge amount of opportunity for great talent in the market right now.

He believes this opportunity is also an opportunity for change when it comes to job design; with candidates not just choosing new roles, but new ways of working. From school-hours contracts to remote working in a candidate's market nothing is off the table. 

The truth about salary inflation

Yet it is equally true when opportunity knocks, or more accurately pops into your  LinkedIn inbox,  not every employee is automatically out the door. Notably counter offers are on the rise and aside from this companies are proactively benchmarking pay. 

Nobbs explains: “People aren't leaving just for money, they are leaving for new opportunities for growth. Companies are being quite savvy when it comes to existing talent and salaries are increasing by 50% and 100%.”

He believes that brands and agency’s alike leaders are thinking differently about how they retain and develop their biggest asset; their people. “There is a real focus on servant leadership,” he explains. 

While the recruitment market is exceptionally buoyant, he says that smart organisations are laser focused on their existing talent. He explains: “Businesses realise that the lifeblood of their organisations are people. Lots of organisations are rebalancing and with the reduction in the costs of office space many are more focused on support, development, training and remuneration.”

People aren't leaving just for money, they are leaving for new opportunities for growth. Companies are being quite savvy when it comes to existing talent and salaries are increasing by 50% and 100%

David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at The Grace Blue Partnership

The great reset

While headlines may well focus on the ‘return to the office’ for Nobbs the focus for progressive companies is more on addressing issues which may have historically disadvantaged people with caring responsibilities. He points to the example of Yum brands, which have significant shared parental leave policies. 

Inclusivity is more than just an empty buzzword because, as Nobbs explains: ‘People don’t want to work for organisations that aren’t truly focused on diversity and inclusion. Agile approaches to work are vital, that culture of presenteeism has been challenged and people have shown they can work effectively in different ways and in fact they want to contribute more because they are more in control of their lives.`` 

Taking back control

This desire for control is a key trend within the recruitment market; with individuals choosing to change roles if they can’t maintain that control in their existing roles. “There is a lot of movement in the market at the moment and candidates have a huge amount of choice at the moment.”

But, in the flurry to attract and retain the best talent is bad practice creeping in? From female leaders privately sharing stories of companies simply benchmarking (and time wasting) to ensure 50:50 shortlists, to candidates simply using offers to leverage a higher salary in existing roles there is no shortage of complaints surrounding the current recruitment process. 

Yet, for Nobbs these complaints are simply reflecting existing issues. “There will always be people who are willing to go through a recruitment process to get leverage at their currency company. But that company must not be doing something right if that is the process talent needs to go through in the first place.”

Companies are also taking a long hard look at the employee experience of the recruitment process itself. “The interview process can be too convoluted and companies have realised they need to speed things up and build momentum,” he explains.

People don’t want to work for organisations that aren’t truly focused on diversity and inclusion. Agile approaches to work are vital, that culture of presenteeism has been challenged and people have shown they can work effectively in different ways and in fact they want to contribute more because they are more in control of their lives

David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at The Grace Blue Partnership

Designing a diverse future of work

Increasingly smart companies are recognising they have to do things differently in order to attract the best talent. “The key is not to just focus on skills and experience, it is about recognising that diverse candidates can fall out of the process because of just looking at  the job requirements in isolation,” he explains. 

A lack of imagination which, perhaps goes someway in explaining the gulf between the companies talking about change and the lack of tangible change in the makeup of senior leadership teams. It’s easier to wax lyrical about the ‘war for talent’ and the current pressures in the recruitment market, than apply critical thinking and action to removing the barriers facing diverse talent in the workplace.

Yet there are signs that the green shoots of change. Nobbs points to the power of the ‘gift of time’ in the workplace, sharing how companies are increasingly open to school hours contracts and 4-day weeks. “Clients are thinking more broadly about how they attract the talent they need,” he explains,

Pointing to the rise of job sharing at a senior level and global hiring possibilities in a remote-first workplace, he notes that change is a key to turning the dial on diversity. He explains: “People are redesigning their organisations, roles and responsibilities to attract and retain top talent.”

Ultimately it’s the organisations making change, rather than just talking about it, that are creating the conditions where both their people and their profits can thrive.