Article: It will take a while for some sectors to improve hiring to Pre-pandemic levels: Robert Walters’ Dominic Salomoni

Talent Management

It will take a while for some sectors to improve hiring to Pre-pandemic levels: Robert Walters’ Dominic Salomoni

E-commerce, healthcare and education/ed-tech will emerge as the sectors that will benefit the most in the medium to long-term and we expect to see increased levels of hiring across these sectors over the next few years, says Dominic Salomoni, Director, Commerce of Robert Walters Singapore, in an interaction with People Matters.
It will take a while for some sectors to improve hiring to Pre-pandemic levels: Robert Walters’ Dominic Salomoni

Dominic Salomoni is the Director, Commerce at Robert Walters Singapore. Dominic joined recruitment as he feels that the industry offers a genuine career path and global mobility at all stages of one’s career. He has 17 years of work experience and has worked for well-known global recruitment businesses both in the UK, Australia, and Singapore.

Prior to joining Robert Walters Singapore in 2012, Dominic was the Associate Director for the finance division of a global recruitment business based in London. In Sydney, his base for five years prior to London, he focused on senior finance roles within the FMCG, IT&T, media, and pharmaceutical & healthcare sectors.

Dominic currently heads the commerce division and manages several disciplines: Accounting & Finance, HR & Business Support, Sales & Marketing, Technical Healthcare, Supply-Chain & Procurement, Professional Practice and Upstream Oil & Gas (perm & temp). He has also personally focused on recruiting mid-market to C-Suite accounting roles across a variety of sectors, including Education, IT&T, Professional Services, Property, Media, FMCG, Retail, Pharma/Healthcare

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

The COVID-19 outbreak is different from any previous crisis and hence the way leaders respond to this crisis should be different. How do you see the current business landscape and their readiness to come through stronger on the other side?

From what we can observe, the current business landscape in Singapore is generally driven by caution amongst many employers.

Most businesses are trying to navigate their way through the current landscape via a combination of sensible cost management, digitalization, and taking advantage of any available government relief such as the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) which has been extremely helpful in these unprecedented times to allow employers to maintain their people.

Businesses that were more agile and innovative in adapting to the current business landscape have performed better, and will likely emerge through this leaner, more competitive and ready to take advantage of the uptick in the market once it takes place.

Between April-June 2020, the world lost almost 400 million full-time jobs due to the pandemic, according to ILO. What's the need of the hour to come out of this never-before situation which has a disturbing effect on workers and millions of enterprises worldwide?

The initial economic response required was for governments to provide unprecedented levels of support for their economies. The Singapore response from an economic perspective has been outstanding and the JSS has ensured that many Singaporeans have retained their jobs as a result. Moving forward, the length of time for which the pandemic lasts will determine how much more economic stimulus will be required to ensure people remain employed moving forward.

For businesses and individuals, innovation and upskilling has never been more important. The way things are done before and after COVID-19 has changed dramatically. Enterprises will need to rethink their processes, people, and systems to find ways of being more effective, efficient, and most importantly, agile.

For individuals, regardless of whether their jobs have been affected so far, they will constantly learn and upskill themselves to remain relevant in a world which is changing faster than before. 

In the post-pandemic days, there may be jobs that get lost forever, and then there may be jobs that can become more important than ever. In fact, a new category of jobs may emerge altogether in the post-pandemic days. How do you see this shifting equation? How do you see the job landscape five years down the line?

In the short-term, some sectors such as aviation, retail, hospitality, and events are obviously seeing more of an impact in terms of hiring. Once the pandemic is over, we expect to see these industries recover. However, it will take a while for hiring to improve to the levels they were at pre-pandemic. 

From what we have observed, e-commerce, healthcare, and education/ed-tech will emerge as the sectors that will benefit the most in the medium to long-term and we expect to see increased levels of hiring across these sectors over the next few years. 

Digitalization, which was already being undertaken for many businesses across various sectors, accelerated during the pandemic. This increased speed of Digitalization will continue to drive increased demands across both technology and marketing-related functions within many companies.

Also read: Employers and government should work together to bounce back stronger: EY’s Lay Keng

Do you think the new work from home phenomenon can transform the job market? How do you see the overall impact of this new form of WFH?

There will definitely be a shift towards work from home on varying levels across most businesses where possible. During this period, many employees have become more used to the concept of working from home and enjoyed the flexibility and time with family it affords them. According to a survey we conducted in April to May this year, 84 percent of employees we surveyed said that they would like to work from home at least twice a month and more than 50 percent hoped to work from home at least once a week. The survey also revealed that most employers and employees felt that productivity levels were maintained or increased when employees are working from home. 

Additionally, most businesses will benefit from significant cost savings generated by reduced office space requirements should employees not be required to come in every day. As such, there is a potential win-win for both employers and employees in continuing with some form of flexible working arrangements and hybrid work environments in the post-pandemic era. Given this, we expect that it’s unlikely that most office-based businesses will return to a traditional office environment where employees are expected to come in every day of the week from 9 to 5.

Do you think organizations need to invest in effective long-term remote-working foundations and revamp their upskilling approaches by embracing an agile approach to strategic workforce planning?

To cope with the sudden transition to work-from-home arrangements during COVID-19, many businesses have already put in place remote-working technologies. Depending on their long-term approach to flexible working, businesses may also need to create a permanent work-from-home platform for their employees. This will require further investment in technology and increased levels of trust and autonomy in many cases. 

Prospective employees will certainly be factoring in flexible working arrangements into their considerations when on the lookout for a new role, particularly if they are currently enjoying such benefits. Flexible working arrangements were already a key driver for many employees pre-pandemic and this only increased post-pandemic. Employers will be at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t offer this moving forward.

On the HR end, companies will need to make changes to their onboarding, training, strategic workforce planning programs. Other areas that will require change include talent retention strategies, employer culture building and talent development programs.

What's your advice to the millions of workers who are now jobless? How can we help ease off the greater burden of the out-of-the-work community?

For many of those who are jobless, they should be taking this time to focus on upskilling and/or re-skilling themselves. Although it may be hard to do so, keeping a positive mindset and trying to see it as an opportunity to grow or diversify your skill set is crucial. I would advise individuals to consider picking up skills related to the growing markets across healthcare, education, technology and digitalization if possible. Taking advantage of any government-related training or grants where available would be the best way to do this. In Singapore, these could be SkillsFuture credits, or any of the government training programs put in place. 

It is also important to identify and tap on all the resources available. Reach out to your friends and family, attend virtual networking activities, look out for relevant jobs on LinkedIn and make sure your applications to jobs are tailored. 

This willingness to learn and adapt coupled with your resourcefulness will go a long way when applying for new jobs as well. Employers will view these as evidence of resilience and grit. It’s a particularly trying time for many people both professionally and personally but try to remember that things will get better over time and we will all emerge stronger, wiser and closer together as a community once the pandemic is over.

Read more such stories from the September issue of our e-magazine on 'Jobs: Now & Beyond’

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Topics: Talent Management, #JobsNowAndBeyond, #Hiring

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