The latest Randstad Workmonitor, a leading global indicator of jobseeker confidence and mobility, has dropped significantly in the third quarter of this year for Australia. The findings are a complete turnaround on the second quarter of the year, when mobility had risen to 111, its highest level since 2011.   

The Randstad Mobility Index now sits at 104, a seven point drop on the previous quarter, and a similar level witnessed in the first quarter of 2013 when mobility sat at 102. Australia is one of few countries to have experienced a decrease in mobility this quarter, with the majority of nations experiencing a jump, including Spain, Norway and India. The global Mobility Index now sitting at 109, is at the highest point in three years. 

The Randstad Workmonitor, commissioned by recruitment and HR services specialists Randstad, surveys over 13,000 people across 32 countries each quarter and is a leading indicator on employee intentions and confidence levels globally. 

The drop in mobility and jobseeker confidence in Australia comes at a time of soft business conditions, rising business and consumer confidence, and rising unemployment levels - now at the highest level since 2009.

While mobility ratings have dropped notably within the last quarter, it is known that this is due uncertainty and lack of confidence from the lead up to the Federal election. These feelings would have sifted through businesses and effected employee and jobseeker confidence.

However, throughout the weeks succeeding the Election outcome, with the new PM and government in power, there has already been an increase in sentiment and some industry sectors are beginning to experience a new level of flexibility as the market becomes more stable.
With that being said, cautious hiring intent is still being experienced amongst Australians, seen through the highest unemployment rate in the last four years and a steady decrease in job advertisements, both online and print.

Despite this, Australian employees are still keeping an eye out for new opportunities – although less than 10% are actively looking for a new job, over 70% would consider moving to an alternate job if the right role arises. 

Whilst the overall trend this quarter points to a level of cautiousness and uncertainty, the economy and labour market are expected to experience increased and renewed optimism in the fourth quarter.  However, it is still unclear if this expected optimism and flexibility since the Election will impact the level of unemployment and job creation during the next three to six months.

At Randstad, we are noting a minor increase in permanent job orders in engineering, IT, accounting and finance and from the construction and pharmaceutical sector. The preference to hire on a temporary basis such as contract roles is still prevalent due to the desire to maintain flexibility, particularly during uncertain business conditions where scaling up or down may be necessary.

Although buoyancy is a major priority for businesses from a financial and resourcing perspective, it is still of importance to analyse the pros and cons from a cultural perspective. Temporary, casual and contract work is short-term and transient by nature, which is attractive to many people however there are still many who prefer stability. If employees experience stress or concern about the temporary nature of their position, this may subsequently hinder other employees and teams.

To counter these sentiments, clear communication between both parties about the role, goals, objectives, expected outcomes and the terms of engagement, ensuring that employees work to the best of their ability regardless of the type of employment they have within your business. Managers must continuously be conscious of the sentiments felt by their employees and their performance and be sure to immediately alleviate any concerns as they arise.