Dec 11, 2023
As we head into the Christmas break, it is always useful to reflect on the past year. Record low unemployment (3.6% as of October) in South Australia continued to underpin a strong employment market in 2023 skewed in favour of job seekers. The lament for many businesses continued with difficulty in finding staff in many areas of property at almost any level, it seemed.
An emerging trend saw organisations appointing less experienced people in some roles to manage resourcing issues. This opened opportunities for people looking to enter areas of the industry such as administration and residential property management. While this added additional challenges for employers, some organisations have benefited from thinking laterally and diversifying their teams.
As has been the case since before COVID-19, the demand for residential property managers remained unchanged. There is a big challenge for the real estate sector to address this persistent problem which shows no signs of abating in the short or medium term.
For the first time in many years, we experienced greater difficulty in recruiting facilities managers, commercial property managers and retail managers. These roles that were traditionally quick to fill have taken many months to find the right person. In addition, organisations that usually attracted talent via their reputation as an employer of choice were no longer immune from the shortage.
Rising costs and wage pressures
It was challenging for employers undertaking mid-year reviews to strike a balance between spiraling inflation pushing up wages, and protecting long-term company profitability should the economy slow as predicted. Anecdotally many of our clients ended up implementing wage increases of 4 to 4.5% for their workforce.
Government vs private sector
There have been some great opportunities in local and state government in property and project-related roles, but the growth in salaries in the private sector over the last 2 years presents recruiting challenges, as the market has well and truly outpaced government for a range of roles. Government still offers great benefits to attract talent including excellent working conditions and the unique type and scale of projects. If the market does start to pull back, government roles will always be attractive to job seekers because of their stability.
Our local property industry
It is fair to say the employment market in South Australia has remained stronger for longer than expected, assisted by the strength of the property industry overall. We expect some heat to come out of the employment market over the coming 12 months if the economy does slow, but gradually. The challenge may be sustaining high salaries paid to secure people, as these will be scrutinised as organisations tighten their belts. Interstate candidates are still looking to Adelaide to either come home or move to, drawn by the allure of a lifestyle shift and a more manageable cost of living.
As we are telling job seekers, it’s a propitious time to work in property in South Australia. For employers, the challenge remains to strike a balance that satisfies employees' expectations while accounting for the economic uncertainties at hand.
Words by Jane Carey
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