By Nicholas Buck
Without a doubt, New Zealanders know how to do Christmas. From mid-December on - just as the sun is really starting to shine - we cash in on the good weather (and public holidays) by taking time out from work and the regular patterns of our lives. There is immense power in this annual habit of extraction; pressing pause on the routine of the day-to-day, decompressing from 'work-mode', and simply enjoying some time off can put a clearer lens on the projects we pursue during the year. Besides the odd stoush over the finer rules of backyard cricket, many of us are lucky to have a relaxing year end, and year start.
I and my colleagues at Sheffield have observed how this process of stopping creates flow-on effects for the job market. In January and February, we are inundated with enquiries from high-quality leaders who are thinking about their next career step. Generally, these people are seeking some combination of:
· Change - not for its own sake, but for the opportunity a new context provides to contribute their skills and experience.
· Progression and stretch - similar to the point above, but with an emphasis on their own professional development.
· Authorship - that is, a greater sense of control over their career circumstances.
So, what does this mean for employers? Firstly, that the start of the calendar year is an excellent time to commence candidate search and recruitment. The talent pool is not just at its largest point in the year, but the quality of those available is also very high. To qualify that further, the ‘active-passive’ candidate pool is at its largest, too. These are individuals who are unlikely to seek out or respond to job advertisements, but who are open to a proactive search approach. It is predominantly the latter type of candidate that we work with at Sheffield.
Secondly, be aware of flight risk: the retention of quality team members should be front of mind in the new year. If they are to remain in your organisation, – and, even more importantly, remain engaged – then how will they be supported in achieving their goals? Are there opportunities for employees to articulate to you their professional goals? And how to these goals and motivations map onto your aspirations for the organisation?
Professional ambitions are of course closely connected to one’s wider, existential aspirations. As an employer, supporting your team - to the extent that you reasonably can – to achieve these goes a long way toward ensuring a stable and high-performing team and workplace culture.