Lastest news

The employment trends to look out for in 2020

Dec 05, 2019

Recruiting and HR in Ireland are continually evolving, but with a new decade just around the corner, change is in the air more than ever before as companies strive to provide a more fulfilling workspace for employees. Orla Doyle explains.

Ireland is continuing to build its reputation abroad as a place to work or live. With the unemployment rate dipping to under 5% for the first time since the Irish financial crisis in 2008, Ireland’s labour market is now essentially at full employment – simply speaking, there is a job available for anybody that is seeking one. At the heart of this change is Ireland’s ongoing expansion in a thriving labour market, with 425,000 new jobs created since 2012, and 38,000 in 2019 alone.

New research from Lincoln Recruitment specialist’s A New Decade of Work Salary and Employment Insights Survey in association with Alan Ahearne, Professor of Economics & Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUIG, brings together the thoughts of over 1,400 employers and professionals across Ireland and presents a broad insight into the latest employment trends we will see next year.

Here are some of the trends we expect to see in 2020.

Employers brace for a potential recession

We may currently be in the midst of an extended period of economic growth, but as the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Indeed, there have been several different warning signs than a recession may be around the corner. Despite steady economic growth and commercial optimism, the labour market remains troubled by uncertainty on the Brexit front. Nearly two thirds (61%) expect Brexit to have a negative impact on investment in the Irish market in 2020.

Furthermore, nearly a third of those surveyed (30%) believe a post-Brexit outlook will be negative for Ireland when it comes to employment. Some companies have even paused recruitment or recruited fewer staff (12%) over the past year as a direct result of Brexit. And so, today’s most forward-thinking companies have already begun to develop recession-proof hiring strategies.

Many employers assume that hiring will become easier in a recession – but while candidate pools are typically bigger during an economic slowdown, many companies find themselves overwhelmed by an influx of low-quality applications. As a result, companies will likely have to identify which recruiting channels deliver the highest quality candidates and double down on investment in these hiring channels.

Employees quick to leave if passed over for promotion

We can see from our survey that many employees seek fast-track promotions, with 36% of employees expecting one within two to three years of being in a new job. While professionals are slow to ask for a promotion, if they were passed over for one, they are quick to exit, with 40% stating they would start a job hunt, either immediately or as a passive job seeker. This indicates a need for employers to produce competitive career advancement plans if they are to attract talent and retain staff.

Employees seek progression

While the focus for many employers in a skills-short market is on attraction, employers must not lose sight of retention of current staff. In general, apart from focusing on salary, employees seek recognition for a job well done, and one of the most visible forms of recognition is a promotion.

Unfortunately, according to the survey, many organisations are not doing an adequate job of creating clear advancement opportunities for professionals. Nearly two thirds (62%) of respondents who did not get a promotion within the last 12 months cited “a bottleneck”, “nowhere to go”, or “unwillingness by a company to offer one” as the main reason.

To retain talent, organisational leaders must set expectations of constant learning, and this means career plans at all levels so that employees see a path for broadening, deepening, or advancement.


The drive to embrace flexibility, both to compete in the market using flexible talent and as a means of engaging employees by offering flexible working options, continues to increase. Getting the best out of workers requires some understanding of what motivates them, and puts them in the best positions to succeed. From our data, we can see flexible working continues to top the list as the most important benefit for employees seeking a new role (70%), up from 60% last year. Aside from their salary, it’s the next most import factor that engages professionals personally with over half of employees (54%) stating that this was of the highest importance to them, even ahead of career progression (41%).

Orla Doyle is the Group Marketing Manager in Lincoln Recruitment.