Doing business in Zurich: Trends to watch out for

Posting date: 28 February 2019

Doing business in Zurich: Trends to watch out for

Since being named as the world’s most sustainable city in 2016, Zurich hasn’t rested on its laurels, continuing to flourish as a place to both live and work. The social, environmental, and economic factors that led to the award are things that the city has long been revered for, but it’s not something that’s happened by accident.

With a desire to maintain its reputation as a “centre of economic life and education” (a line coined by the official tourist site myswitzerland.com), investment in Zurich’s local infrastructure continues at pace, while being conscious of its environmental impact; the city is one of the lowest generators of emissions and consumers of water in Europe.


Why Zurich attracts businesses and people

While it’s regularly ranked as the second-most competitive financial centre in Europe behind London, uncertainties around the future of the UK could well play into Zurich’s hands.

Already home to 10 of the world’s largest financial firms, the engineering hubs of tech giants and a giant data centre industry, a local startup scene has emerged attracting talent from amongst the 60,000 students who call the city home.

While some will naturally be keen to move into an established household name business when they come out of education, the chance to be a part of something new and exciting is just as attractive to the modern workforce.

Zurich offers the best of both worlds.

Zurich’s low rate of 3.0% unemployment is on a par with the national average, below that of Basel (3.6%) and Geneva (4.9%) and far better than the European average of 6.8%. The business setup is there to cope, no matter how many people want to call the city home!


Sensible city planning

Of the 425k people who currently call Zurich home, 68% of them are of working age. That’s 2% above the national average in Switzerland and 3% above European averages.

Those may sound like small margins, but in a city that’s seen annual population increases of 1.8% over the past decade, it may look from the outside to be a growing city with limited space to expand.

In other regions that could create some serious logistical nightmare — over-urbanisation has a habit of pushing the cost of living way up — however, Zurich isn’t just any other city.

The planning department at the City of Zurich recognised this trend well before it became a problem, implementing an active policy to make better use of abandoned industrial sites to provide affordable studio spaces and rehearsal rooms.

This has seen great redevelopment in Zurich-West, where the former derelict buildings are becoming lively spaces full of contemporary art. Refurbished shipping containers have become pop-up retail spaces and dingy back streets and railway arches now house some of the most desirable restaurants and cafes in the city.


Providing a launchpad

While Zurich is home to many large corporate financial services organisations, such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance, it’s increasingly becoming known for its positive startup environment.

Areas like Kreis 5 provide the perfect spot for coworking, and the many meetups, tech conferences and incubator schemes have helped fuel the thriving startup scene.

With the close proximity to those making financial decisions, some for these companies can be expected to break out of startup mode in the coming years. Exactly who it will be is a matter for debate, but there are some strong contenders.

Of course, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and within the financial sector companies such as Advanon and Wefox are attempting to challenge the traditional norms of the industry.

The medical folk are arguably even more active when it comes to innovation, with Ava becoming a vital service for women across the world, and Versantis, Xeltis and Cutiss showing strength in the pharma and medical devices field.

Whether it’s Selfnation in fashion, ComfyLight in home security, Nezasa in travel or Beekeeper in employee communication, every corner of the city has a potential ‘next big thing’ on its hands. For any company considering where to base their HQ, Zurich surely must close to the top of the list.


Make your business move with Swisslinx

As a specialist recruitment company providing talent solutions across Switzerland and internationally, we’re proud to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and recruitment trends. With a Zurich base, we are active partners to new startups and larger organisations emerging in the city, and have a thriving network of skilled, vetted candidates ready to make their mark in this market. Find out more about what we offer here.

Why recruitment can never be fully automated

Research shows that approximately 1.2 million jobs in Switzerland could be replaced by computer systems, algorithms and robots. However, the roles typically identified as being ‘at risk’ include bar staff, security guards and drivers – not recruitment professionals. On top of that, there are predictions that robotics and automation can exist alongside human professionals, enhancing their work rather than replacing them entirely.   Though AI has permeated every industry and there’s much reservation surrounding the technology, there are many benefits of automation - particularly for recruitment teams. That being said, recruitment remains a fundamentally relationship-led process that machines will never be able to replicate. Here’s why recruitment can never be fully automated and how AI can instead enable companies to redefine their talent acquisition strategies.   Benefits of new technologies While the human touch of recruitment can never be replicated, there are many ways that automation can help. One instance is AI-powered HR technology tools, which can reduce time to hire and improve the quality of hire simultaneously. AI tools and systems help recruitment professionals to sort through large volumes of applications and identify high-quality candidates – two major challenges that many consultants have faced in the wake of coronavirus. Prior to the outbreak of the virus, many companies were already using such technologies and the pandemic has triggered a widespread adoption of the technology, increasing investment in video interviewing software and virtual assistants.   In McKinsey’s The future of work: Switzerland’s digital opportunity report, results revealed that machine learning could increase the potential for automation of retail recruitment to 60% and to an even higher 66% for finance and insurance. So, how will it do this?   How automation and machine learning can help with the recruitment process People Analytics Recruitment has always been data-rich, but candidate information has traditionally been used to distinguish applicants from one another. The introduction of people analytics has enhanced this, repurposing data to predict what a successful candidate look likes. People analytics – similar to data analytics - tracks high-quality candidates and uses this information to create a personality matrix that predicts future successful hires. But while research from Deloitte found that 71% of businesses agree people analytics is high-priority, how much trust can you really place in a data algorithm?   Writing inclusive job descriptions Various AI tools can help with creating job descriptions using inclusive language such as gender-neutral keywords. As research shows that diversity drives financial progress, there’s more than one incentive for companies to strive for a diverse workforce. This application of AI technology demonstrates how automation will continue to benefit the hiring process and wider business goals by lowering the chance of using biased language.   Recruitment during Covid-19 AI-powered systems have proved their worth during the pandemic, preventing recruitment from coming to an altogether standstill and earning a permanent spot in the recruiter’s tech stack. As a result, the pandemic has accelerated the automation of recruitment, but it’s also exposed the crucial role of the recruiter.   The human element The human element of recruitment is about building relationships. Automation tools take admin tasks off the hands of the recruiter - particularly during the earlier stages of the recruitment process. Hiring teams can then reallocate this time to engage with the candidates who are further along in the process and perhaps more qualified for the role. Therefore, experienced consultants are essential when identifying high-quality candidates and during the executive search process – offering a human touch that automation cannot imitate.   Relationship-driven recruitment creates a superior candidate experience which is a crucial talent attraction strategy in a climate with a ‘war for talent’. Specialist recruiters are trusted to create, develop, enhance and maintain relevant talent pipelines so that companies have access to the best candidates from the talent pool. Whether the talent attraction goal is to ensure cultural fit, tackle D&I targets or source fresh talent from new markets, the human element remains the key piece to the puzzle.   AI and machine learning are enhancing the role of the recruiter Though 24% of Swiss employees fear that robots will replace them in their job, this view fails to consider how AI and machine learning can enhance their job role. Hiring professionals can harness technology to see better results in both their time-to-hire and in identifying high-quality candidates. Before the start of the decade, the job market had confidently established itself as candidate-driven, but now most recruiters and employers are faced with the challenge of sorting through high volumes of applications. This is where technology can help to streamline recruitment, whilst allowing consultants to focus on the core relationship-building and communication elements of the process.     Working in harmony with automation A recent report by Deloitte projected that 270,000 new jobs will be introduced in Switzerland by 2025 - the majority created by automation. The key takeaway is that AI technology doesn’t replace skilled professionals - rather, skilled hiring teams are needed to interpret the data that AI generates and add the personal touch. Though it’s still unclear to what extent recruitment will become automated, the role of the recruiter will remain an important one and will never be fully replaced by robots.   Stay ahead of the curve with Swisslinx At Swisslinx, our international team of consultants make sure to keep stay ahead of the curve, despite operating in an ever-changing recruitment landscape. Our deep understanding of our core recruitment markets and considerate approach to communication means we provide a service that is unrivalled by any technology. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our approach to suit your businesses needs.

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How do you know you’re working with the right recruitment partner?

Anyone who’s ever worked a recruitment agency will know that no two companies are the same. This is due to many factors: agency size, local and international knowledge, access to roles and candidates and use of technology are just a few. One of the biggest differentiators amongst recruitment agencies is the emphasis they place on recruitment standards. The recruitment industry is large, with relatively few bars to entry. As of 2018, there were around 800 recruitment agencies in Switzerland, employing approximately 5,000 consultants to place 340,000 temporary workers each year. It’s an important industry that makes a valuable contribution to the Swiss employment market and therefore economy, but how do candidates and clients know that the recruitment partner they choose to work with is upholding high standards and providing the best possible recruitment experience? What do high standards in recruitment look like? What makes a good recruitment experience? For a candidate, this comes down to several things, including: <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Relationship building: A good recruitment consultant will treat their candidates like professionals, not commodities. Look for a consultant who takes the time to understand your career goals, both long-term and short-term, and listens to what you’re looking for in your next role. A relationship between recruitment consultant and candidate can span years or even decades and can provide crucial guidance and support outside of simply finding new roles. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Market insights: A recruitment professional should be interested – in the candidate’s wants and needs, in the market, and it the roles they recruit for. Look for a consultant who is passionate about what they do and the sectors they work in, as they’ll likely go the extra mile to find the right move for you. They should also understand trends and developments in the market to help guide you through the recruitment process. How do you know you’re working with the right recruitment partner? Many clients want to build-long term partnerships with recruitment agencies they trust and can rely on. So what should these clients look out for? <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Industry expertise: While generalist recruitment agencies have their place, many organisations benefit from working with an agency that has specific experience in the sectors they operate in, whether that’s financial services, healthcare or technology. Look for consultants who know their markets inside and out, can advise on current trends and know who the best candidates in your sector are. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->An extensive talent pool: A good recruitment agency can be judged by the depth and breadth of its talent pool. They should be able to access not only active candidates readily looking for opportunities, but also those high-level passive candidates who you would not otherwise be able to engage with. A good recruitment company will have existing relationships with professionals who might just be the perfect ft for your role. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Honesty and integrity: Recruitment agencies are increasingly being seen as strategic partners for organisations, rather than just supply lines. To be able to build this partnership, an agency must work with honesty and integrity, clearly communicating with both candidate and client and ensuring the recruitment experience is a positive one for all parties involved. Swisslinx is leading the way in recruitment standards At Swisslinx, we have in-depth industry experience in many sectors. Our broad candidate pool accesses local and international professionals and we organise our teams to respond quickly and accurately to client and candidate needs. In addition to these strengths, we pride ourselves on maintaining extremely high standards of service at all times. With one of the highest staff retention rates in recruitment, our consultant’ work ethic, commitment and trustworthiness has been acknowledged by many in the industry. As an example, Account Manager Tim William received the below feedback from one of Swisslinx’ newest clients:   I don't like recruiters in general, but when I do, it's definitely people like Tim. He doesn't cast his net over hundreds of candidates with the same automatically-generated content, but rather hunts for people who - in his opinion - match best with the client's brief. He's highly communicative, keeps candidates in the loop even if he doesn't have any information from the clients and even gets to know where they live and what their current situation is. This is what I call very good relationship-building. And it all sits atop other skills and experience like good client relations, good insights and tips. I can wholeheartedly recommend Tim to any experienced job-seeker that looks for that special human touch and individual approach along with the feel of uniqueness. Well done to Tim, and thanks to all our Swisslinx consultants who go above and beyond to make our clients and candidates get the best possible care every day. If you’re interested in working with us and seeing high recruitment standards in action, contact us or view our client services to find out more.  

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