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Human Resources

Navigating the workforce landscape: Experts talk trends, transformations and strategies

Health Industry Hub | January 22, 2024 |

Human Resources: In the dynamic labour market of Australia and New Zealand, the landscape for 2024 is poised for significant changes, driven by the convergence of hybrid work models, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), evolving remuneration patterns, and a heightened focus on employee well-being.

Vanessa Meikle, Founder and CEO of Hunton Executive, sees 2024 as a year of growth for many organisations. After grappling with restrictions, strategic shifts, and restructures over the past two years, there is a newfound focus on efficiency through AI and collaborative technologies, viewed through the lens of cost savings.

“There is also a renewed focus on people and culture. With leaner organisations there is a motivation to upskill and develop the talent already engaged with the company providing more opportunities locally, regionally, and globally,” Ms Meikle told Health Industry Hub.

“The job market is highly competitive with many senior leaders and executives in the healthcare industry receiving redundancies in the last 12-24 months and others returning to Australia from overseas,” she noted. “With only approximately 40-50% of jobs being advertised openly in the market, the need for connections for referrals and recommendations is at an all-time high.”

Chi Tran, leading Mercer’s salary survey and data business, predicts an inevitable shift in remuneration patterns.

“What worked for a pre-COVID workforce is not going to work anymore. As well as greater cost scrutiny, talent turnover and retention issues and higher cost of living pressures, Australia will have gender pay disclosure changes in place this year. All these things will impact your total remuneration practices. Retention will be a focus, which means prioritising employee benefits around career paths, reskilling and upskilling. We also see employers putting a larger proportion of remuneration budgets into variable compensation, which can be adjusted in line with business performance,” she commented.

Maree Paras, Associate Director at Paras and Partners, highlighted the increasing confidence in the healthcare industry. After two years of reconfiguration and restructuring, 2024 is anticipated to bring growth in commercial roles, particularly in sales and marketing.

“We will see movement in the commercial space as candidates are seeking more from their organisations and their roles, including career development and financial benefits. We are also seeing less movement and growth in the regulatory and medical affairs roles due to the drug pipeline slow-down,” Ms Paras told Health Industry Hub.

She added “There continues to be a skill shortage in the digital and market analytics space, making it challenging to source talent.”

Anna Frost, Director of Executive Search at Hunton Executive, underlined the shifting focus to retention in the aftermath of global restructures and redundancies in 2023. She stressed the importance of robust competitive offers, quick talent acquisition, and a clear vision for future opportunities.

“This is a great opportunity for companies to reassess talent, upskill current talent and ensure robust succession planning. It is also an opportunity for companies to think outside the box with talent, revisit talent from different countries and hire for the future rather than right now,” she shared with Health Industry Hub.

Andrew Lafontaine, Mercer Strategy & Growth Leader, places a big bet on a flexibility reset. Instead of solely urging employers to be more flexible, he advocates for employees to reconsider their default position on working from home.

“Since the pandemic, employers have had to meet employees where they’re at,” he said. “Policies to get people back into the offices two or three days a week have had very little success. So let’s move away from that and think about what flexible work arrangements should look like for both employers and employees in a modern work environment.”

Reflecting on the candidate’s perspective in 2024, Ms Frost advised candidates to avoid complacency and explore all avenues. Upskilling in AI, networking, and strategic career planning are crucial elements. Candidates are urged to focus on the long-term goal rather than quick wins, assess their skills, and reconnect with their network. Ms Frost emphasised the need to stand out and showcase their potential contributions to future organisational success.

As the workforce navigates the complexities of 2024, companies in the pharma, medtech, diagnostics and biotech sectors play a pivotal role in understanding underlying culture issues, encouraging internal mobility and retention, ensuring equitable benefits, and embracing technology to enhance productivity and employee experience. This year promises a landscape of growth, innovation, and strategic adaptation, demanding a proactive approach to stay ahead of the curve in this era of continual change.

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