2022 has proven to be another year of movement in recruitment, seeing many candidates of varying experience stepping into new roles and riding on the coattails of the pandemic-influenced, candidate-favourable market.
If you’ve been considering a fresh start and taking the leap into a new role for the new year - you’re not alone.
Reflecting on the year that’s been, our environmental, three waters and ecology specialist consultant at 84, Amy Davidson, has noticed some common threads in the reasons behind job seekers looking to broaden their horizons.
Spoiler alert - Amy says that if the thinking behind why you want to leave is sound, more often than not, taking that leap of faith and adjusting your career path will result in growth and likely pay off. Here are the top five motivators she’s noticed.
1. Flawed organisational structure or culture
Structure and culture are two of the biggest contributing factors to job satisfaction.
One observation that’s become more apparent post-pandemic is that in large corporates, people often struggle with organisational structure. For example, when there are too many hoops to jump through to make decisions, get approvals and even promotions. To a lot of employees, layers of red tape and little room for innovative thinking can feel like an overkill and become quite frustrating to work around.
On the flipside, in very small companies, culture and structure can be quite delicate, where something as simple as a team member leaving can upset the balance.
It’s important to consider what type of structure and culture is the best environment for you so if you’re looking for a better fit, Amy’s advice is simple - ask questions.
“When talking to people in the market, we really focus on making sure that they’re clear on what they expect in terms of culture from a new company. An interview is a two-way street and is as much for the candidate as it is the company, so my advice is to dig deep about the company you’re interviewing with and ask questions like ‘what do you like about working here?’ and ‘what examples do you see of people living up to the values’ to get a good organisational feel.”
If the structural and cultural fit is looking like a match, then it can turn out to be a great reason to move.
“Culture means different things to different people. To some people it’s feeling connected to people socially, for others it's feeling like they can show up as their authentic self and it can also be having good trust in leadership and support. If you feel like you’re in a culture where you’re not encouraged and supported to do your best work, then that’s a valid reason to look elsewhere.”
2. Professional development opportunities
Regardless of whether candidates are only a few years into their career, or have spent a decade with a company, professional development opportunities come up as a reason candidates move roles, time and time again.
In the engineering and environmental sector, Amy has noticed that moving for professional development usually comes down to one of four things.
“People either want to work on different types or sizes of projects to gain exposure to other professionals and experts in the field, are looking for support to become chartered or certified, are interested in specialising at a company with more employees in their area of expertise, or want to move into a leadership or management role.”
For Amy’s candidates, taking a leap of faith for professional growth has often paid off long term.
“I can think of so many examples of professional development positively changing a career trajectory. Recently, a client of ours was looking to start a new regional office and build a team. We were working with a candidate whose values aligned, and while it was a scary step, they ended up gaining leadership experience and building a team from scratch. Often, taking that higher risk to do something a little more challenging pays off.”
To some degree, this one goes without saying – salary is a huge contributing factor to people changing jobs, and in the past few years we’ve seen some massive changes industry wide.
“Since 2020, we’ve seen a significant increase in salaries overall because the demand for talent was higher than we’d ever seen. In 2022, we have seen an increase in response to inflation, but not at the rate of the previous two years” says Amy.
Because remuneration has experienced such an upwards trajectory, candidate expectations have become a bit of a challenge and a huge reason why employees are ready to leave.
“People are hearing from their peers that they secured a significant increase, and there’s so much media noise about it being a candidate driven market, causing people to look elsewhere – but the reality is, it can’t keep increasing and candidate expectations do need to be managed.”
Amy predicts that while remuneration was a factor for changing jobs in 2022, moving forward, salary expectations might begin to level out. If that happens, companies and candidates alike will start to focus on other factors like culture, inclusivity, support.
“Money is just one part of a much bigger picture.”
Leadership is so integral in a person’s ability to do their job well, and in 2022, many candidates shared challenges in this area and identified it as a priority when looking for a new role. Key themes that arose included that they felt there were communication challenges, they didn’t feel empowered by leadership to work in the best way, and some noticed that their leaders were so close to burnout themselves, that they didn’t have bandwidth to make their team members a priority.
“It’s been quite a noticeable talking point this year that leaders are under pressure and teams are under-resourced. People like to work with people that they trust, who have time to support their professional development, so seeking a role with solid leadership has been prominent in conversations this year.” says Amy.
The question is, how can candidates be sure that the leadership team they’re moving under in a new role is going to align well with their values, before they’re in the job?
Amy says that similarly to understanding company culture ahead of time, it’s about asking the right questions.
“I would encourage people to ask the ongoing measures the company takes to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you’re interviewing with a manager, ask questions that encourage them to talk about their team dynamic. If they speak of their team with pride and in positive terms, that’s a good sign – watch out for the language.”
After all, picking a company with great leadership can mean big things for a person’s career.
“We always hear that the best leaders are people who create more leaders, not more followers. A great leader will encourage you to grow and challenge you to become autonomous, show initiative and potentially become a future leader yourself.”
5. A different type of role
Last but not least, people leaving a job for a different type of role was common in 2022.
“Specific to engineering and environmental markets, people might want to move away from a government role into a private organisation. Perhaps instead of a consulting role, they want to work on the client side of projects. In some instances, they simply want less of an office role and more on-site work.”
Whatever the reason for wanting a new role, one thing is for sure, in 2022 people were more willing to take risks to get a different perspective.
“Early in 2022, people were really willing to take risks and looked at things differently because of Covid, to broaden the scope of what they do. That said, moving into 2023, we’re seeing people being a little more risk averse. For some people that means staying where they are, for others it’s wanting to feel secure.”
A change in role can be incredibly beneficial to a career and offer insights into different sides of an area of expertise, however Amy says it’s important to be clear on what the benefits of changing roles will be before moving.
“Some people move into completely different role because they feel like they should, rather than because it’s what they want. We always try to identify the drivers in interviews and make sure the new role will really be best for them and help them move forward, rather than take a sidestep.”
Thinking it might be time for your next move? We’re here to help. Get in touch with Amy at email@example.com