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Joe Robbins: companies not offering remote or hybrid work situations are at a major disadvantage.

Major issues for employers amid tight labour market conditions

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AT the moment many companies are facing a slew of problems in terms of recruitment, retention and management of workers, according to Joe Robbins of Shannon-based CareerWise recruitment.

Last week a poll suggested 63% of Irish workers were disengaged from their job, but Mr Robbins says that figure, while alarming, is actually an underestimate.

“It’s far higher than that. Millennials, modern young people, they want more than just working from home, they want to be able to take time out to go to the gym or do charity work or whatever, there’s a huge disengagement around the world.”

At the same time there is a huge demand for people, with labour shortages across various sectors.

“The labour market is very, very tight now. You saw last week that Ireland has surpassed 2.5 million people working.

“There’s a huge shortage of all sorts of people now; hospitality, production and manufacturing, finance, supply chain, R&D, there’s a shortage of people everywhere. It’s a real concern right now, with inflation being so high, with interest rates going up, people are looking to change jobs and they’re looking for 10, 15, 20 grand just to change.

“The cost of labour is going right up, employers are picking from the same pond, so they’ve got to pay people the increased salaries.

“And people are working from home, people who can work from home want to work from home.”

While remote work saw huge gains in productivity early in the pandemic, he says it is totally different now, with huge concerns about people tuning out and becoming unproductive.

“The legacy now is people refusing to go into work, there’s the cost of working from home, the lack of motivation, it’s a real, real problem.

“And because we’ve never faced these problems before it’s very difficult to deal with them. If you upset a disengaged employee all that’s going to happen is they’re going to go to another company for ten or 15 thousand more.”

While the economy is still strong, inflation is also very high and interest rates are set to rise, and a dose of economic pain might change the employment picture once again.

“If there is a downturn and redundancies, it might change things again. Interest rates are going up, inflation worldwide is high, that’s causing problems for some companies.

“Big technology and pharma companies are saying they won’t be hiring people in 2023, and that’s going to affect subcontractors and there’s going to be a bit of a downturn.

“Once there’s a bit of a downturn it’ll change the whole thing quite dramatically.”

On the positive side, he feels that American companies want bases in countries perceived as reliable, such as Ireland, while China’s reputation has nosedived since the pandemic.

“There’s going to be a massive amount put into the American subsidiaries in Ireland. During the pandemic Ireland performed very well, they never lost any days due to Covid. The US multinationals were delighted with the subsidiaries.”

“Consequently a lot more will come to Ireland, but you don’t have the labour and if you bring labour from abroad you don’t have the accommodation.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.