City slowdown may spark poaching spike

Fewer City workers are actively seeking jobs. So firms may have to go out and snare them...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 12 Jul 2011
Recruitment company Astbury Marsden reckons the number of banking and hedge fund staff actively looking for a new City job dropped 20% in the second quarter of this year. That’s a 15-month low. So we may be about to witness a period of intensive spear-sharpening, as ambitious companies embark on more aggressive head-hunting missions.

This time of year you’d expect to see a heavy flow of bankers looking to switch jobs, but this year the City appears to have been struck with a marked reluctance to move (better the devil you know, and all that). Astbury Marsden said there was an average of 1.68 qualified candidates for every new City job in the second quarter, down from 2.13 candidates per role in the same period a year earlier.

So what’s going on? Work has slowed in the City and confidence has been hit by the onset of austerity, not to mention the fact that Europe’s economy currently looks about as secure as a celebrity’s phone line. In such conditions, it’s only natural that people start to appreciate the good of what they have, which means that recruiters will have to get out there and turn on the charm.

Given the increased threat of a rival coming around and waving a big carrot in your talent’s face, it may be a good time to really show how much you care about them. But it seems bosses may not be valuing their flesh-covered stock as much as they should. According to a survey of HR and finance managers by London South Bank University and health consultant Vielife, only two-thirds of respondents consider employees to be their most important asset, while a mere 41% of companies discuss employee health and wellbeing at board level.

The report’s authors say we’re suffering from a ‘wellness gap’. This is their (admittedly grating) way of saying the reality of the workplace doesn’t match the corporate spiel. While 67% think that employee wellness should be a corporate performance management factor, only 25% of employers currently measure the costs relating to poor service linked to health and wellness.

It would be interesting to find out whether the lack of attention paid to well-being is the by-product of this tougher economic reality. If so that’s surely a false economy: employee health is only going to become even more important, and avoidable factors like poor diet, rising stress and all-round poor health can all eat into your bottom line. What's more, if one of your rivals comes in offering the corporate equivalent of a backrub and a detox session, that talent may suddenly feel like jumping.

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