The Return of Expat, FIFO and Interstate Employees
Author: Stefanie Moran, General Manager – Australia, Logistics Executive Group
Not a month goes by without new challenges impacting on national or regional employment markets. In recent weeks, we’ve seen the resurgence of the North American economy with strong domestic job numbers, the invisible credit bubble in China finally come to surface, leading to wild fluctuations in the money markets as the central government intervenes to control monetary flows and then the impact of global commodity prices including oil trading at record lows. And that’s without talking about the Syrian refugee crisis affecting parts of Europe – markets that are already depressed and struggling to receive the long-awaited economic bounce following the global financial crisis. If nothing else it makes news….
Whilst on the surface, all these ups and downs have an impact on our consumer confidence; it is the global corporate employment departments that are struggling to keep pace with the major changes in the movement of their workforces. None more so than in Australia with the long enjoyed resources boom having experienced a slowdown in recent years, with its impact felt by thousands of FIFO and relocated workers looking to return home having enjoyed the benefits of the job market that the boom created.
With more than a decade of experience in advising companies on best practice talent management in the supply chain logistics sector, I’ve witnessed the many highs and lows of this fickle industry, to the global and Australian economies and overall changes to the candidate market.
And through of all of these ups and downs, it’s the last three years in which the supply chain executive talent acquisition market has experienced the most dynamic change – and whilst some of this change has been predictable, such as the continued transition of manufacturing offshore, transformation of the service sector and the impact of e-commerce on retailing, a less recognized impact has been the return of the Expatriate or FIFO worker.
Media business sections reinforce the cyclical decline in mining and resources employment. Many expats who gained high paying domestic resource sector roles in a high demand market or chose to obtain premium offshore roles with higher salaries are ever increasingly seeking to return to Australian based positions. With a decline in domestic industry investment, the downscaling/transition to production phase or deferment of many major projects, a decline in a wide range of resource related employment opportunities has resulted Although Australia’s employment marketplace seek.com.au’s recent Employment Trends report found that job advertising in Australia increased in September, with the trend of improvement continuing, it also cited that the “Mining, Resources and Energy” category has produced a 41% decline in job postings and an increase of +31% in applications per job since 2013”*. A clear sign of the challenges ahead.
Trevor Cameron, Asia Pacific Procurement Manager at Cristal Mining is all too familiar with the current mining and resources FIFO conditions “Unfortunately the risk associated with employing returning FIFO employees is sometimes just too high, they have made a deliberate choice to join the expat FIFO market to chase big money at the expense of security”
Certainly within the Australasian markets, there has been an increased focus on assisting executives and specialist workers who are returning home to Australia and or capital cities from roles previously abroad or in remote FIFO locations. A large part of this assistance is in preparing the candidate for the their ‘new’ employment landscape and ensuring that they are set realistic goals and expectations relevant to today’s market – particularly position and benefit alignment to the localised marketplace.
In working with executives to help them understand the reality of the Australian market place, flush with high quality talent in what is a candidate saturated market, minimal job growth in capital location and a reduction in the availability of FIFO roles, mentoring and providing professional coaching to candidates has been one of the cornerstones of our activity in recent times.
Helping professionals realign and better understand their place in the market such as salaries, benefits and job positioning, whilst working with them to develop the necessary interview skills and professional resumes is becoming an increasingly important part of our talent management services.
Much like many of our overseas markets where recruitment lead times are long and candidate management complex, the key to talent acquisition in this changing market of Australia, means that partnering with customers closely from the start of the job design process to onboarding has become essential.
Ensuring transparency around job expectations of the both candidate and the customer, whilst managing the engagement has become a more important factor in successful hiring.
Project managing both parties to be open minded and working with customers to help them look beyond the direct employment limitations (such as salary caps, location or seniority) but to assess the additional value that the returning candidate may bring isn’t always straight forward – particularly if there are questions around whether they will stay long term or see the immediate opportunity as a stop gap until something better comes along. Likewise, ensuring candidates see long-term opportunities / challenges and does not get bored within the role even if it means a sideways shift. The same applies for location changes, it is just not that simple and this needs to be managed and handled in a professional and sensitive manner.
In managing this dynamic market shift and fast-tracking talent management requires learnt knowledge and sector expertise. For HR and Business Managers, this means partnering with trusted advisors who bring specialist talent management skills and extensive networks where by candidate reach goes beyond local market.
Engaging specialist, long established Executive Talent / Search Firm helps accelerate your talent programs and to bridge the gaps in communicating these issues with executives going through this change.
In dealing with these talent marketplace shifts daily and across multiple markets, Executive Talent / Search Firms will be able to provide relevant knowledge and market intelligence that goes beyond just the sourcing and hiring process. They will bring a degree of expertise that ensures the HR process management is aligned to the talent market and reach across domestic and international networks to attract untapped talent pools whilst providing comfort of knowing who’s who and what they bring.
Like all high performing supply chain’s in today world – its starts with business-to-business, relationship-to-relationship and individual-to-individual collaboration built on trust, value and expertise.
*SEEK Employment Trends, September 2015
Stefanie Moran | General Manager – Australia, Logistics Executive Group
As General Manager Australia for Logistics Executive, Stefanie has driven Logistics Executive Australia’s growth and client partnerships for more than 10 years. Stefanie with her reputation for business integrity and transparency leads Logistics Executive’s Search business and recruitment projects across Australasia. Taking a partnership approach to clients and the talent market, for more than a decade Stefanie has built extensive and priceless networks across a wide range of industries such as 3PL, Transport, Supply Chain, Mining and Resources, Retail, FMCG, Pharmaceutical, Industrial, Express and General Freight.