Market update – March 22
We’re in a bit of a pay frenzy at the moment. There are lots of media reports, some accurate, some probably focusing on the more extreme elements of the pay and flexible working debates, but either way, costs are increasing and pay settlements are undoubtedly good for those in the private sector. There are always variations, some skillsets are more in demand than others, some industries fared better with lockdowns than others (a complete lottery), and there’s perhaps more opportunities for graduates than more experienced hires as firms look to defend their margins.
Indeed, this last point concerns me for the second half of 2023/2024. Unless firms can grow or find efficiencies to defend their margins, they will eventually run out of road - hopefully not into the abyss. This is also on the minds of many CFOs too, who are seeing their cost forecasts being trashed.
It’s a difficult conundrum because people want to protect and enhance their standard of living. Often when people leave a firm, the new employer is the hero and the old firm the villain, and this filters back to colleagues. However, I’ve rarely met an incredibly successful person who has purely followed the money. Like COVID being a blip in time, the inflationary period we have now will at some point settle. We totally underestimated the damage to supply chains from lockdowns and the effect of economies restarting at the same time, at pace, globally. Simply fixing these would have a positive effect on inflation. However, they will eventually settle, some large purchases which wouldn’t have happened if travel had been open won’t be repeated for some time (think flatscreen tv’s and home gym equipment). Therefore, taking a slightly longer-term view on your career is still important.
As you’d expect, I’ve read many books on the subject and my experience is that if you’re unhappy, no pay cheque will make you happier. Money aside, I think it’s good for everyone to think about why else do you go to work? Is it for the camaraderie and therefore are you working with fun people? Have you invested time in a firm and, if so, would leaving now result in it flourishing under someone else? Do you work to make a difference? Is it to learn?
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These are deep questions that can’t be simply answered quickly, you really need to spend time analysing them and to tie them in with goals in your personal life. You will never succeed unless you have a passion for something. Contrary to popular current thinking, work success (defined in narrow material or hierarchy terms) does involve sacrifice, long hours, sometimes travel, risk taking, and anxiety. It’s hard to get through these times unless you have a passion for what you’re doing, your firm, or supporting your co-workers.
The best reasons to stay in a job, or to look for a new one, are: for genuine progression, for the adventure, to learn something new from people you respect, and because you feel it will make you happier. There are lots of roles out there at the moment and they will come with a good salary, but don’t let that be the only factor you consider.
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