Covid-19 has significantly impacted employment opportunities within the property industry, especially in Melbourne over the past 6 months. As a specialist recruiter for the commercial, industrial and retail property industry, I have not only seen a decline in new job opportunities, but also a decline in candidates currently open to opportunities.
Having commenced my recruitment career in 2006, the closest comparison to the current decline is the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009. During the GFC businesses weren’t provided with a stimulus package to retain staff causing a high volume of redundancies, however the job market was relatively buoyant in comparison to now. The impact of Covid-19, specifically in Melbourne’s property market has been significantly different during the pandemic of 2020, and fortunately businesses who qualified received JobKeeper payments to support the retention of employees.
For the first time in my career, the property market has not only seen a job shortage but also a candidate shortage. Candidates who were looking for new opportunities declined dramatically in April 2020 as their motivations to pursue a new role were no longer a factor.
The most common motivating factors prior to the pandemic were:
- Cultural misalignment
- Management issues
- Lack of career/skill development
The past 6 months have seen these factors become lower if not completely on their list of motivations for changing jobs.
Reasons for this are:
- Reduced hours and salaries across a significant portion of businesses
- Cultural and management issues have less impact due to working from home
- Career and skill development have been put on hold
- Company loyalty has increased with JobKeeper payments, flexibility, and support from employers
- Homeschooling (for Melbournian’s) has limited time spent on work priorities
- Mental health and wellbeing factors
We are in unchartered territory, but what is certain is that employing staff and starting a new position during lockdown has been successful where organisations have invested in technology and implemented robust onboarding practices that go above and beyond to ensure the employee experience is of the highest order.
Having started with a new company myself during the lockdown, it has been stress-free.
While the doom and gloom of the newspapers would make us all believe there is a high volume of candidates, the recent months have proven otherwise. With JobKeeper winding down over the coming months for property businesses, employers will likely find an increase in online applications from active candidates due to redundancies that will come over the next 3-6 months.
On a positive note, the easing of restrictions is increasing optimism to the property industry’s employment activity, providing businesses with the confidence to get back to the office and consider their hiring strategy for 2021. We are seeing an increase in candidate enquiries from those not active in the market right now, but have utilised lockdown as a time to reflect on their career pathway and consider moving for the right opportunity.