Recruitment in 2022 - What to expect?

‍We've been living through the most significant workplace disruption seen in generations. By all accounts, the resulting volatility is not showing any signs of slowing in 2022.
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21/2/2022

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Sources: LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Qualtrics, Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA); Harvard Business Review; Deloitte, Gartner.

We've been living through the most significant workplace disruption seen in generations. By all accounts, the resulting volatility is not showing any signs of slowing in 2022.  

Hybrid work, which is probably the most striking feature of this change, will continue to be a pivotal contributor to this highly dynamic recruiting environment. Add to this the impact of ongoing transformations, socio-political-pandemic disruption, general business uncertainty, and we can see that 2022 will need a constant re-evaluation of approaches for managing organisational talent.

This guide reviews and summarises credible research, highlighting some of the key trends and requirements to inform the options open to companies seeking to get the best out of their recruitment strategies.

  1. Your company's brand will offer significant leverage in attracting talent

According to the research of global recruiters conducted by LinkedIn Talent Solutions prospective candidates' awareness of your brand can significantly impact their decision to apply for a role in your company.  

This is particularly relevant for small and medium-sized organisations, which generally have less ability to enhance their reputation than the larger corporates.  

Some interesting statics around branding include:

  • 72% agree that employer brand significantly impacts hiring success
  • 39% say employer brand will be a key focus in their recruiting strategy
  • 55% already have a proactive employer brand strategy in place  
  • 59% are investing more into brand development

Employer branding not only makes recruiting easier but can directly impact profitability. Such contributions include:  

  • A 28% reduction in staff turnover
  • A halving in the cost of hiring  
  • 50% increase in the number of qualified applicants applying  
  • Speed of hire can double or triple  

Conversely, the absence of a good employer brand can have significant, negative impacts:  

  • The uncertainty of not knowing much about an organisation, mainly what it is like to work there, can pose a considerable obstacle to candidate interest
  • Candidates' trust towards the company can be three times greater when credible information about what it is like to work there is made available  
  • Three-quarters of job seekers consider the employers brand before even applying  
  • When considering their application, at least half of prospective candidates check out the hiring company's sites and social media.

2. Get ready for the four-day workweek becoming the new standard

Pilot programs run by governments and businesses in countries like Iceland, New Zealand, Spain and Japan have experimented with a four-day workweek and reported promising results.  

According to pilot studies, workers reported anywhere from a 25% to 40% increase in productivity, as well as an improved work/life balance, less need to take sick days, more time to spend with family and children, less money spent on childcare, and a more flexible working schedule. All of these elements significantly and positively affect morale.  

Reducing the hour's employees need to work gives liquidity-constrained employers a better chance to compete against organisations that offer higher overall compensation without the reduced hours.  

It looks like the four-day workweek is inherently a win/win outcome, posing an essential global paradigm shift for how we conduct work. We will likely see organisations experiment with a 32-hour workweek while sustaining the same compensation as a new way to compete for knowledge workers in 2022.

3. There is no going back to full time in the office

Hybrid work is here to stay. Companies need to offer digital experiences that enable both in-person and digital collaboration. The 2022 Employee Experience Trends report based on interviews with 14,000 employees from 27 countries, released by QualtricsXM, states that around a third of employees would likely look for another job if required to work full-time in the office.

The employee experience is now deeply connected to the digital experience. Suppose technology has not been improved to reflect this connectivity. In that case, the employee experience and sense of achievement will be proportionately impacted.

In summary, employees are seeking:

  • Flexibility to consistently be able to work from home
  • Technology that strongly supports collaboration  
  • Communication and transparency  
  • Support
  • Higher quality office space, for when they are in the office

4. Flexible working can be a two-edged sword

For many, the new hybrid working arrangements now in place are welcome, particularly for those who have traditionally spent long hours commuting. But this can be a two-edged sword: spending too much time away from the office (i.e., away from co-workers) can lead to a lack of connection and feelings of isolation.  

Additionally, staff turnover starts to increase with the reduced social influence that has traditionally acted as an encouragement to employees to stay longer.   There have also been unforeseen negative consequences for gender equality, with the lines between work and home becoming more blurred.

However, these issues can be addressed by implementing appropriate policies and strategies. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), offering flexibility in employee work times, patterns, and locations can benefit employers and employees. Some of these benefits include:

  • Greater employee wellbeing including reduced exhaustion, burnout, and fatigue
  • Improved productivity
  • An enhanced ability to attract and retain employees
  • More women taking on leadership roles

Policies that support better access to flexibility can boost women's workforce participation, including improved access to male-dominated industries and occupations and leadership roles.

5. There will be an exodus of leaders – particularly women

The QualtricsXM report highlights this area as a critical concern for organisations in 2022. As the pandemic hit, many managers needed to function as personal supporters to employees enduring the impact of the pandemic. That tipped the scales for many leaders, resulting in burnout and sometimes quitting altogether.

As this new year gets underway, leaders will need to go the extra mile to drive a host of unique needs. These will include diversity and equity, fostering a sense of belonging, supporting social justice issues, and understanding and supporting employee mental health. This work, while critical, is physically and emotionally exhausting. When added to already high workloads, leaders may feel it's too much and plan to leave (if they haven't already).

This research also shows that leaders' expectations of how long they intend to stay with a company have been shortening year by year for the last five years. This consideration was a significant consideration for female leaders. Companies will need to face this trend head-on by offering more support and reassessing targets, particularly not just piling on more expectations.

6. Manager/employee relationships are now more critical than ever

According to Harvard Business Review, the manager-employee relationship has become even more critical than ever as managers become the primary company/remote employee conduit.  

Despite the crucial nature of the manager/subordinate relationship, research indicates that providing performance feedback, support and fostering new connections by leaders will become technologically automated by 2025.   Therefore, companies will be faced with new choices - decrease the number of managers or change what it means to be a manager.

Organisations that change expectations will need to address manager mindset and skillsets away from a task focus to managing the whole employee experience. Managers must become more human-centred while sustaining traditional task and performance-focused engagements.  

7. Managers also need to show more empathy

As ongoing organisational change has become the norm, empathy has become the crucial key lever for change success. According to Harvard Business Review's Patti Sanchez, leaders driving change need to keep the team on board and motivated. The following few strategies can be helpful to stay in touch with employee perspectives and attitudes:

Identify key employee personas or segments in your organisation.   Interview representative employees in each piece to sample typical perspectives and mindsets, and let this information inform your communication strategy.  

Underpin this strategy with high levels of transparency. You may need to keep some sensitivities private, but overall, the more informed people are, the greater their ability to deal with the discomfort that change brings.

Also, identify your teams' fears and concerns and openly acknowledge them. This degree of transparency will make others feel included and considered and build trust that you understand the situation.

8. Mental Health Programs and Wellness practices will increase

It will be critical for companies to ramp up their understanding and support their employees through active Mental Health and Wellness Programs. A Gartner 2020 survey of 52 HR executives found that:

  • 94% of companies made significant investments in their wellbeing programs
  • 85% increased support for mental health benefits
  • 50% increased support for physical wellbeing
  • 38% increased support for financial wellbeing

Understanding employees through employee satisfaction and engagement metrics is generally the norm for organisations. However, in 2022, these measures will expand to include mental, physical, and financial health. As well as improved productivity and wellbeing, such actions will lead to happier employees who speak well of their company in private settings.

9. Hire for soft skills too

Deloitte reported in 2021 that Western economies are experiencing widespread skill deficits, leading to an expected shortage of multiple skills by 2030. Deloitte also noted that most of these skills would be soft skills. This trend seems obvious when you consider that repetitive-task positions are falling to ever greater levels of automation.

Around two-thirds of all new jobs will specify a high reliance on specific soft skills, such as collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. Recruiters will subsequently see their focus increase on these areas.

10. Lack of DEIB progress won't be accepted

With social injustice becoming a dominant issue, many companies have articulated public diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as an essential concern for their organisations. DEIB fosters a culture of belonging, allowing companies to compete and differentiate to attract sought after talent.

However, QualtricsXM's research shows that only 70% of employees believe their organisations have made sufficient progress in this area. Additionally, four in five senior leaders say their actions show they are genuinely committed to greater DEIB. In contrast, only three in five individual contributors say the same. Closing this gap will play a leading role in retaining people, making it essential to get right during the Great Resignation.

Employee perceptions of DEIB efforts and corporate social responsibility have improved in recent years, as they recognise and appreciate organisations' efforts. But it will be a fundamental challenge to sustain these efforts as time passes.

Conclusion

We are all aware that the pandemic has significantly changed organisational behaviour and leadership requirements. The need for leaders to flex and adjust to these new requirements is growing year by year, with little sign of things letting up.

But there are good strategies available to help businesses sustain their performance and enrol high levels of support from their employees. It essentially comes down to acknowledging these trends and preparing for them. Forward-thinking organisations that get onto the front foot with identifying and positively responding to change position themselves to become leaders in their industries.

Kacha’s mission is to see men and women leading, influencing, and shaping the world in equal measure.

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Sources:

LinkedIn Talent Solutions,  https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/c/pdfs/ultimate-list-of-employer-brand-stats.pdf

Qualtrics, https://www.qualtrics.com/m/assets/au/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/FINAL-APJ-GLOBAL-EX-TRENDS-2022-171121.pdf

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), https://www.wgea.gov.au/publications/flexible-work-post-covid

Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2018/12/the-secret-to-leading-organizational-change-is-empathy

Deloitte, Deloitte Access Economics, Soft Skills for Business Success, 2017

Gartner, https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-12-01-gartner-recommends-organizations-pursue-three-strategies-to-ensure-managers-succeed-in-the-hybrid-world