We were excited to present our annual Executive Outlook findings to a packed audience of business leaders earlier this month. There was such a great vibe.. Here are some highlights.

Executive Outlook is presented exclusively by the Top Office Group, to research local conditions, based on our interviews with over 75 business leaders, and hundreds of job-seekers. This is our 8th year running.

Almost 60% of firms intend to hire more staff (that’s the highest since we began), with sourcing and retention cited as our No. 1 Challenge.

Skill shortages are now more prominent amongst 43% of firms. This takes in legal, finance and compliance professionals. There are gaps for IT developers, web developers, coders and marketers. The growth in Healthcare is phenomenal, with high demand for registered nurses, professionals and carers (especially in aged-care and disabilities). Qualified and experienced accountants are quite scarce. There is plenty of scope for switched-on business developers.

We were amazed at the competition for property managers. Demand exceeds supply to such an extent there’s just no end to this revolving door.  People will always need houses, and we can’t all afford to buy one.

As these skill gaps widen, our advice is to move quickly with attractive offers to win your candidates over. The lure of dollars alone may not be enough. People also value flexibility, culture and a career path.

We found that 38% of firms have employed extra resources to manage cyber security (in addition to secure firewalls, software, dedicated IT people and back-ups).

“The cost to keep our connections safe has grown by 35%”.

It takes just one person to click on an infected email link, or one virus to make its way through your firewall, and there goes your data and customer relations. Consequently, cyber insurance and the Government’s “Stay Smart On-line Alerts” are popular strategies.

 Confidence Levels

I’ve never known confidence to be this high among our group. It’s a feeling of optimism, with solid profits and activity levels amongst 80% of firms, in particular:

  • Massive growth in the IT sector (digital marketing, web hosting and creating games, apps and new platforms).
  • Sustained growth across Health and Aged Care (and their supply chain).
  • The education sector is flourishing.
  • Construction and housing is buoyant (tempered by some concern over high debt levels).
  • The Government’s investment into infrastructure has been fantastic for suppliers and jobs.

The main concerns centred around the impact of excessive regulations on sustainability.

What is your most valuable asset?

Global giants like Google and Amazon are in an arms race, to create machines that replace people. Bill Gates is so concerned, he’s called on governments to impose a “robot tax” to slow down the pace.

Despite this reality, 95% of firms in Executive Outlook ranked people over technology as their most valuable asset. Whilst we’re milking technology for all it’s worth (to raise productivity and create safer workplaces), we value our people more.  This was reflected strongly amongst the group.

“Brand, partnerships and people are more important”.
“People are our DNA”.

Our preference is to employ people with transferrable skills. It’s a model where everyone contributes to revenue.

Above all else, we look for fabulous communicators, with empathy, enthusiasm and attention to detail. It is about engaging with our customers and walking in their shoes.

People still want to deal with people, so customer focussed roles that merge brilliant technical skills with high levels of influence and emotional intelligence are on the money.

Even in education, it’s now less about degrees, and more about transferrable skills. Schools and universities are on board, with more of a focus on resilience and problem-solving. These soft skills will underpin jobs of the future.

“Learning ability is the leading predictor of success.. No. 1 above intelligence and education.” (Research by Google into high performance).

 The way I see it, automation is all about the process. Our edge is leadership and people.  We will always ‘sell’, but we’ll need to master networking, relationships and social-selling, so our service is consultative (not just transactional).

What is the impact of our fast-paced lives on leadership and productivity?

Over 75% of leaders in our group said these dynamics are influencing their decisions and outcomes. You told us:

 “We don’t have enough strategic thinking time”.
“We’re on overload, but need space to step back”.

We are addressing this through building time blocks into executive schedules, creating time and solitude to work on (rather than in) our business and strategic planning.

In a candidate’s world

ABS unemployment has dropped to 5.5%. This is heartening, but underemployment still has a foothold. The quality of jobs is more precarious.  We explored this through our survey of 200 candidates, and found that:

  • 33% (of those employed) were not working enough hours to support their lifestyle.
  • 90% of all respondents are not concerned about the impact of technology on their careers.

However, CEDA research shows 40% of jobs won’t exist in 10 to 15 years due to automation. These jobs may not disappear, but they will morph into new ones. Our workplace will be a very different place.

The new Work Smarts report says no job is safe. The average 15-year-old will change jobs 17 times, and have 5 different careers.

So, by all means, embrace technology for the data, but get better at the things machines can’t do. New jobs will rely on our intuition, influence and emotions. We advise our candidates to:

  • Compile a skills inventory.
  • Research which aspects are most vulnerable to automation.
  • Explore where the needs are.
  • Take steps to upskill.
  • Learn to manipulate Excel for all it’s worth.
  • Use their digital brand to cultivate connections and share insights.

A great connector’s gift is to make people feel special, in a world that values automation more.

 Thank you so much to our Executive Outlook group, for sharing your wisdom and insights, to make this a truly authentic study of our region.

Remember, we are here to achieve your dreams and aspirations. If we can help you source the very best talent, a trainee or customise training for your team, please give us a call. We would love to work with you.

Jan