Think & Grow Managing Partner, Dan Spencer, chats to Shanyn Payne, CPO at Finder, to get her observations on the current market and how fast-growth tech businesses can attract and retain talent despite the market’s changes.
What’s your take on the current events and what’s been going on in the market for the past 6 months?
The world has changed, especially for tech businesses. Some are reliant on capital right now to grow and even just to survive.
Outside of our tech sector bubble, there is still a massive pressure on wages. There's a lot of data coming out that has not hit Australia yet which shows that companies still seem to be having to pay a lot to get good top talent.
For companies that are having to make decisions around headcount, they are also faced with having to make the call whether to give pay increases to secure remaining employees. I feel this bubble is really confined to us and there is still also pressure on salaries despite having to slow down growth.
Do you predict that slow down in growth will eventually slow down the increase in salaries?
Yes, the heat coming out of it now for the tech talent who were able to demand $20-30,000 more. You're always going to pay top dollar for premium talent.
What are the attraction pieces that matter for top talent? Has anything shifted along with the market?
Safe is the new sexy. There’s still a lot of top talent who have worked for a long time in high-growth and start-ups and don’t want to work in large corporations. Which forces them to be more choosy about where they work because they need to be sure that the company is still going to exist 12 months on.
Indicators of having just raised capital, have a long runway ahead or a path to profitability are what’s attractive right now. In addition, people want to see that businesses have been fiscally responsible with a really good plan and not just growing for growth’s sake.
Do you still think ESOP is a critical factor for fast-growth tech businesses to attract the talent they need?
Absolutely. And we need to find better ways to communicate how it works. Some of the changes that are coming from the government are great because it means we can be more competitive with US-type of ESOP plans businesses out there.
And what about retention strategies – what’s really important right now in order to retain top talent during this time?
Surprisingly, I don’t think a whole heap has changed. We’ve seen flexibility move to one of the top five reasons to work in a company in the past two years. The old classics still remain as valuable right now: pay fairly and provide learning and career opportunities.
Never forget the main reasons why people join start-ups are the rapid growth in career development, the opportunity to be a part of something new and bigger than themselves and not feeling like just a number but having a sense of belonging.
I’d add on top of that security and certainty as I said earlier.
Have you seen any more shifts around hybrid working and how are you handling this in Finder?
People want choice, so if you don’t give them that choice - people will vote with their feet and they walk. You have to be willing and flexible to give your employees the choice.
I’d advise to not go with a one-size-fits-all approach because you’re dealing with humans, people work in different ways. We’re seeing how things play out for the time being because it’s hard to get it just right. Fully remote working is great until you start to miss those water cooler moments and spark igniting opportunities. But, being in the office full-time is more of a hindrance than a help.
When you reflect on new reasons about why people are coming to a company and how employees’ views and needs are changing, how does that play out in terms of EVP and benefit evolution?
It’s really important to consider that in any tech business right now. For example, at Finder we’ve moved to a total rewards package where things like flexibility and learning are added as opposed to just a bonus-based equity plan.
We’re also changing when we communicate that total compensation packages and things like life leave are added. It’s about changing the whole conversation and moving it away from it being just about bonus and equity – it’s all-encompassing.
Where do you think salaries will be at in the next 12 months?
I’d need a crystal ball! I think it’s been really interesting to see in Australia because technically wages should have been growing a lot faster than what they have been over the last few years. But they haven’t. They've remained stubbornly at two and a half to 3% growth. We get a lot of pressure from employees for pay rises to match inflation, which would be a really bad economic decision.
Globally, there’s a lot of pressure though. The US exceeded 10%, Poland inflation is at 18%. My prediction is that Australia will stay flat, but who knows.
Thanks to Shanyn Payne, CPO at Finder and Dan Spencer, Managing Partner at Think & Grow.