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The Tables are Turning in Employment

Ben Byth
The Tables Are Turning In Employment

With increasingly small candidate markets and the growing resignation movement coming from the United States, negotiation strategies need to evolve on both sides. However, most importantly - all parties must recognise that employment and human-capital shouldn’t be considered transactional, as the decisions we make now are likely to ripple across the rest of our careers and balance-sheets.

With this in mind, here are some helpful tips to take under consideration in the coming months:


If You Have Power, Use It Wisely

As lockdowns, shifting rules, and limited immigration play havoc across the nation, many employees and candidates have never had more negotiating power. Even though some employees may be in a current position to demand anything in the transaction I’d be thinking about the longer term. Instead, think about things beyond money also. For example, on the  employee side, you could explore ideas like what could be achieved from your employer to help further your career or what flexibilities may you need over the next few years. Similarly, employers could be thinking about concessions needed from staff to achieve step changes or achieve strategic objectives.  


Don’t Get Carried Away

People are a little like elephants in that they are likely not to forget the time you behaved poorly. Don’t waste any power you have now by throwing your weight around… a sumo match with your employer will not serve you well when the power starts to swing back. Instead, you should be optimistic but remain realistic with your demands.


Be Aware of Your Limit Positions

While it is very easy to posture and claim we would never do XYZ… it is often another thing entirely to cruel a deal over it. Both employees and employers need to be very aware of the difference between their “intend to achieve” and “limit” positions. In my experience the limit is often way further than we may first think and the way we surface it is to ask questions like:

  • What is more important: operational continuity or salary increases conceded?
  • Are we saying we would seek alternative employment if XYZ couldn’t be achieved?


Trade From Weakness

We at Scotwork advocate for trading rather than haggling whether you have a lot of power or not, although it is particularly important when you don’t. Haggling (or compromising) is a little like arm-wrestling, and I wouldn’t like to arm-wrestle from a position of weakness. Instead, if you find yourself in a position where you need to make concessions, think about what could you get in return to make those concessions acceptable?


Pay Attention

Finally, don’t forget to keep paying attention to what is changing (or likely to change). What was true today about power could easily be flipped tomorrow, with the implication being that our objectives and our strategies should be shifting just as quickly too.


Happy negotiating!

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