Burcu Küçüktaş (Badenoch + Clark) on top talent trends for 2023

23 March 2023 Consultancy.eu 5 min. read

Employee and employer expectations for executive roles have shifted drastically in recent years, driven by trends relating to the pandemic, the economic slowdown, and rising competition. We spoke with Badenoch + Clark expert Burcu Küçüktaş about the challenges recruiters may face over the coming year, and how they can best adapt to them.

Founded in 1978, Badenoch + Clark is professional services firm specialising in human capital services and executive search. The company helps its clients find talent across professional and executive roles, across the full spectrum of industries, providing top management talent to organisations across Europe.

Burcu Küçüktaş initially joined Badenoch + Clark’s Istanbul office in 2019, before relocating to Amsterdam last year, where she has been appointed as Head of Executive Search.

Burcu Kucuktas, Badenoch + Clark | LHH

Burcu’s cross-continental experience has given her a unique insight into the trends driving the labour market since the pandemic. In particular, she has seen how challenging it has become for companies to fill executive roles.

“Every company is looking for someone with one blue eye, one green,” Burcu noted. “Someone rare, if they existed at all. In the pre-pandemic market, being choosey like this might have made sense, with organisations typically spoilt for choice in their search for top candidates.”

But amid the current ‘war for talent’, Burcu said that the market has tilted to a candidate-driven market. “Companies that fail to adapt their offering to appeal to candidate end up with long-standing vacancies. “Many of these firms end up turning to Badenoch + Clark for help.”

Headquartered in London – with other offices in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands – Badenoch + Clark has grown rapidly in recent times, and is seeing demand for its services grow as clients navigate an increasingly complex – and tight – talent landscape.

The strategic CFO

One of the main areas of focus of Burcu is the CFO role. A role which has seen a major shift of gravity in the wake of recent black swan events, says Burcu, with the CFO increasingly part of strategic and innovation agenda’s.

“The economic shockwaves from the Russia-Ukraine war, record inflation, capital market and supply chain disruptions, shifting exchange rates and many other trends mean the CFO has a massive role to play, keeping the organisation’s finances responsive to the market.”

“Meanwhile, the CFO plays a key role in shaping the investment agenda (for example: digital transformation), funding the transition to ESG goals, optimising working capital in more uncertain times, and potentially leading the financial aspects of funding or acquisitions.”

The remit is likely to grow even further now with the rise of emerging technologies, in particular artificial intelligence. In 2023, Burcu anticipates that there will be a wave of AI acquisitions. “Investing in AI will necessitate further specialist knowhow within a company’s finance function – if firms are to keep AI implementation driven by the actual needs of the business, and its commercial situation,” she said.

Hybrid and flexible working

As the dust settles on widespread Covid-19, Burcu said that the hybrid model that emerged from the pandemic is here to stay. “Remote work has become normalised whether employers like it or not – it has helped people enjoy a better work-life balance, working from home. At the same time, the period demonstrated that people can still be productive without the traditional rigid structure they were used to.”

As a result, people will continue looking for flexibility in their working patterns. “In fact, it is now structurally among the top three most important determinants of job seeking,” said Burcu.

For employers, this has serious implications. “Companies cannot assume the world will return to ‘business as usual’. If an employer tells prospective employees ‘you’re going to come to the office five days every week’, then the large majority of candidates would by-pass the company.”

“Embracing hybrid and flexible working is a key part of HR policy in 2023 and beyond, and companies that fail to do so will risk missing out on top talent.”

The Great Reshuffle

As the world transitions out of the ‘Great Resignation’ – a term coined by McKinsey & Company at the start of the pandemic – a next era is coming into play. “During corona, staff felt undervalued and left their employers en masse,” said Burcu.

However, economic pressures have slowed this trend, with inflation meaning maintaining employment has become even more important to consumers simply looking to make ends meet. This doesn’t mean that firms can simply wait for staff to come ‘crawling back’, though – because so many roles still remain unfilled, meaning those going back to work have widespread choices of employers.

“Many companies have re-evaluated how they treat staff in the last 18 months,” said Burcu. “This means they are more attractive to staff looking for new work. The Great Resignation will become the Great Reshuffle, as staff move between companies, finding more attractive offers on this basis. Therefore, companies can’t afford to underestimate the importance of their culture and values to would-be employees.”

The interim drive

According to a recent survey among CEOs, cost rationalisation is one of the strategic priorities for CEOs in 2023 amid a slowing and more uncertain economy. Against this backdrop, the hiring environment has become more cautious.

Compounded by the mismatch between talent supply and demand, many employers are turning to interim solutions for immediate resolution. “2023 is for many companies a bridge year,” said Burcu. “It will be a year where both employees and employers take stock of their situation, and consider which compromises they may be willing to make next year, or where to draw their red-lines, amid the continued economic uncertainty of the world economy.”

“Interim offer a way forward for both parties on this basis,” Burcu stated. “Employers and employees don’t want risks right now, like the risk which comes from a long-term commitment – signing a contract with a non-compete when better offers may soon come up, or permanently hiring someone when you may have to downsize headcount, and incur all kinds of other redundancy costs – so a ‘trial period’ interim hire becomes the rational choice for everyone.”