Although the number of advertised vacancies within business support in the past six months was lower than in record year 2022, the demand for these professionals remained prominent. Whereas at the start of the year we noticed salaries swinging wildly, today we see organisations being more cost conscious in their recruitment process. Asia Skifati, associate director at staffing specialist Walters People, explains.  

Record-high salaries  

In addition to the early 2023 wage indexation, many organisations appeared to be offering record-high salaries to potential employees, hoping to attract candidates more easily and get ahead of the competition. Asia: "That trend was striking and indeed we have never seen it before. Even graduates were won over by a high base salary, and professionals in a position where a company car is basically not a necessity - such as inside sales, for example - were suddenly given a company car on top. What seemed like a panic reaction at the beginning of the year now seems fortunately over, and we are seeing more and more organisations moving away from those high entry-level salaries."  

Creative solutions  

Not all sectors and organisations chose to sharply increase the pay of new employees. A lot of organisations looked for more creative ways to offer a competitive salary package. "Cost-conscious organisations took a close look at their fringe benefits package. For example, insurance packages were optimised and extended, or employees were offered the possibility to lease an (electric) bicycle," Asia says.   

We also noticed another evolution in terms of flexibility. "In most organisations, two to three days of homeworking per week is now well established, but many companies today also offer their employees the possibility to further increase the number of homeworking days when desired, to further optimise the work-life balance. By the way, this approach also means a reduction in costs for the employer. So everyone happy."  

Thinking twice

The panic feeling among employers about finding suitable candidates may have subsided, but it still left its mark. New employees were lured with high salaries early this year, but often turned out not to be the best choice afterwards. Asia: "The shortage of talent indeed led to a real competition, but organisations are increasingly moving away from this. Prudence prevails, and they are again investing more time and effort in a solid selection process. Potential candidates are being interviewed and tested more extensively than six months ago, and a cost-conscious decision is being made. As long as employers take into account that a slower recruitment process also carries the risk of candidates dropping out, there is no problem."  

Internal satisfaction: it may cost something  

This cost-conscious approach by organisations need not provoke a panic reaction among employees or potential employees. "On the contrary," Asia says. "Organisations where things are going well deliberately choose to reward their hard-working employees extra and promote team spirit. Never before have we seen organisations invest in multiple team-building activities per year or make greater efforts to ensure mental health, as part of their retention policies. Incidentally, such policies also facilitate the recruitment of new employees, provided they are clearly communicated around. And we can only encourage that," Asia concludes.


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