Businesses paying big money for right staff

‘GOLDEN hellos’ are commonly being offered by firms to hook in new staff – while other businesses are often having to make ‘significant’ counter offers to keep hold of staff offered jobs elsewhere, recruiters say.

OSA chairman Nick Graham took part in a panel discussion on the recruitment crisis at the Chamber of Commerce lunch in October. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30303371)
OSA chairman Nick Graham took part in a panel discussion on the recruitment crisis at the Chamber of Commerce lunch in October. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30303371)

Nick Graham, chairman of OSA Recruitment, said that newly-qualified accountants, people with three to seven years’ relevant experience in trust or funds, and experienced compliance officers or money laundering reporting officers were the hardest areas to recruit.

‘Anecdotally, the difficulty in finding staffing in this area does mean that we hear about employers paying premiums to attract talented employees, and also when this happens companies will consider paying a wage increase to keep their employee with a counter offer,’ he said.

‘Some of these pay increases have been significant, and there have also been instances of clients paying “golden hellos” to secure their new employee.’

Mr Graham said that the firm’s current list of vacancies was the same, if not slightly ahead of pre-pandemic levels, at about 370.

‘Our clients are about 80% financial services firms, and we deal with most of the businesses directly though their human resources departments, or the business owners or leaders. I wouldn’t be able to find anyone in this group who would say recruitment is easy, but then it rarely has been,’ he added.

‘The range of the opportunities we deal with are across all levels, from senior executive roles down to school-leavers and graduates.’

But the situation was not going to go away. ‘As people get used to living with Covid, then it feels like “business as usual”, and attempts to grow businesses require human resources in Guernsey’s limited pool of available talent.’

The next three to six months would be critical in seeing how the job market would evolve, he said.

Leapfrog managing director Chris Gnapp said that the level of jobs was much higher than the level of applicants.

‘This is normal for Guernsey although I would say that currently it’s probably a little bit worse than we’ve known it in the past,’ he said.

‘The vacancies are across all sectors but the two main areas – trust and fund management – are certainly experiencing some significant shortages.’

As for companies offering thousands of pounds to staff to stay rather than go to a rival, Mr Gnapp said he was aware of the practice.

‘This is happening more often. A company will often offer an individual a big pay rise to stay once they’ve handed in their notice. Obviously not in every circumstance, but certainly it’s increasing.’

Salaries were also rising, like they were in most sectors. ‘When there is a shortage of staff, people can command higher salaries, but this does artificially inflate the market when things start to calm a little again,’ he said.

It was the norm in Guernsey for the labour market to be a ‘buyers market’ for candidates because it was a small but successful island, Mr Gnapp said.

‘But it’s definitely heightened a little currently. All areas that we cover are seeing increases in salary, right through from finance to hospitality.’

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