2020 vision

5 January 2020 by Sandra Lawler

2020 vision


Sandra Lawler

As we enter a new year and decade Sandra Lawler, Founder Director of Alternatives shares some of her predictions for 2020.

Brexit will still be the biggest issue hanging over Irish businesses.  The future trading outlook is still positive overall, but declining, and Brexit will further drive this down. Brexit will continue to take a lot of time and focus of management and will continue to impact on consumer sentiment negatively, as it did in 2019. Those in the motor sector, retail and FMCG, drinks and travel, will be most impacted.

Competition for talent should still be high, driven by those in sectors less impacted by Brexit. The market for those at early to mid-stage career will remain buoyant.

On the supply side, if the market remains active – and it should- then there will be takers for new job opportunities, in companies with a good reputation, who can offer meaningful roles, career progression and a competitive package. 

Whilst direct hiring will continue to grow, we predict that organisations will adopt a more balanced approach to recruitment, opting to partner exclusively with specialist & boutique talent firms for in demand and senior talent.

The drive to embrace flexibility, both to compete in the market using flexible talent and as means to engage employees by offering flexible working options, will be a key theme in 2020. The “Flex Generation” of both females and males will continue to seek and get flexible working arrangements, to accommodate long commutes, a desire for better work life balance, and enabled by developments in technology. 75% of the community currently get offered some flexible working option, mostly remote working or flexible hours. Some of these arrangements are informal but we believe that in 2020 companies will proactively work on ways to structure and enable this more.

Flexible working will also become a much bigger deciding factor for candidates considering a move. Indeed an organisation that can respond to this need will win the battle for talent and have a more engaged workforce longer term.

Companies will continue to avail of the gig economy and use interim managers and contractors to access the best people and to compete with flexibility.

A big theme in 2020 will be gender pay equality, with the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill likely to be enacted in early 2020. Companies of 250 employees plus will have to report on their company gender pay gap as well as on equal pay stats. If there are gaps- and there’s currently a 13.9% gender pay gap in Ireland and a 14% senior pay gap in marketing - they’ll need to explain why and outline the measures they are taking to reduce it.

There will be increased focus in companies on diversity. There are some great efforts being made by the multinationals in particular to bring in diverse talent, however it’s not truly mainstream yet and the definition of diversity is not yet fully embraced. There’s focus on gender and nationality but not enough on something simple like age.   

Marketing as a function will continue to be critical in the fight to drive revenue and in particular to build markets outside the UK. We expect to see the continued investment by scaling Irish companies in senior marketing and international expertise as they seek to professionalise and to grow their brands on a global stage.

In terms of skills, those with digital and data & insights skills, strategic planning, effectiveness, product proposition, customer experience, strong brand management will remain in demand.

And Marketing Spend investment? We will continue to see a dominance of digital media and spend, indeed in our view an-over focus on short term tactical spend, to the detriment of long-term brand building investment.    

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