Last year was undoubtedly a tricky year for Talent Acquisition, both as a profession but also in terms of job satisfaction and fulfilment. It already feels like there have been some positive in roads in 2024, and there are lots of reasons to be optimistic for the year ahead. There are many trends that will transcend from last year, which will continue to define and shape the talent and recruitment landscape.
In this article, I have highlighted some of those including skills-based hiring, the ongoing power struggle between employee and employer, and of course, AI.
A re-balancing in the jobs market
Firstly, let us start with the jobs market – and the normalisation of.
Over the last few years, we have experienced two parallel worlds – the recovery from the pandemic where there was an immense hiring boom, and then the economic downturn where the market contracted greatly. Unfortunately, the creative, digital and tech industries were hit the hardest with layoff’s, restructuring, and hiring freezes. As a result, the feast to famine felt extreme, and businesses continue to grapple with difficult economic conditions, an evolving customer base and an increasingly demanding workforce.
Overall, the market has re-balanced similar to pre-pandemic times – and so employers are still hiring but are far more cautious and diligent. Equally, talent have also been hesitant, however, in January alone, we’ve seen an increase in 14% number of applications from Q3 to Q4, suggesting that people are open to new opportunities.
Whilst candidates are open to new opportunities, I’m afraid the market is going to continue to be relatively volatile – with a marginal prediction of growth in GDP in the UK, the biggest voting year in the world on record, and on-going global unrest.
Tackling the talent and skills shortage
Our Future of Work Report 2024 highlighted that over one third of businesses are concerned they are unable to hire the right talent, with the right skills; and with over 600,000 roles currently unfilled, and 600,000 more to be created by 2025, employers and recruiters are going to have to think and work differently.
One approach that can help fill the void, and we’re already starting to see it, is a shift towards skills-based hiring. This approach focusses on what candidates can do, rather than just what their credentials say – which enables businesses to identify untapped, diverse talent more efficiently. Equally, it reduces the number of mis-hires by up to 88%, and talent often sticks around longer because they’re a better fit for the role and therefore have greater job satisfaction.
However, it’s not just about the technical skills of a candidate – there is going to be far greater emphasis on soft skills particularly around communication, collaboration and problem solving. I recently wrote an article on why soft skills matter in the creative industries(which can be applied to all industries) – and how it’s vital they should be assessed in the hiring process.
Enabling a skills-first approach can unlock opportunities for millions of diverse candidates, and equips businesses to build more agile, innovative and future-ready workforces.
The power pendulum is swinging
Over the last 18 months or so, we have witnessed businesses beginning to back-pedal on their flexible workplace policies. Some of the biggest in the world including the likes of Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google, and even Zoom (the irony is not lost!), to name a few, have begun to mandate their employees return to the office.
There are several perceived reasons for this – a perceived lack of remote work productivity, a desire for greater collaborations and mentoring, a better workplace culture, and perhaps even a lack of trust from leadership. With recent redundancies, and an increase in applications, we are seeing the beginnings of a shift in the power pendulum swinging back towards employers.
However, what employees continue to value the most (alongside salaries), is flexibility, or at least a certain level of it. In the years since the pandemic, people have realised and become used to the benefits of flexible working, and most do not want to go back to 5 days in the office. Our 2023 Salary Census findings show this, with almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) stated they wanted a fully flexible workplace policy – something I anticipate will not change hugely when we come to analyse the data of our 2024 Salary Census.
This means there is a disconnect between what employers and employees want – and whilst there will not be a complete reversal on flexible working, there will be more comprises to be had.
The emergence and navigation of AI and automation
One of the hottest topics of 2023 was how businesses and employees should navigate the complex world of AI, specifically generative AI. We saw last year how these advanced technologies have started to re-shape elements of the world of work, enabling users to accelerate processes and create efficiencies.
Despite all the talk, only 17% of businesses felt fully prepared for AI and were investing into it – so there is still quite a bit of exploration to do for most. Businesses will be challenged in striking a balance between making the most of the technologies, while mitigating a multitude of risks – including security and privacy, usage, quality control, regulations etc.
From a talent acquisition perspective, one of the biggest challenges will be how to utilise the power of AI in the hiring process, without dehumanising it. We know that these tools can sort through thousands of resumes quickly, identifying core key skills for a vacancy, however, it’s the humanisation that discerns the nuances of whether a candidate is the right cultural fit for a business.
Encouraging far greater pay transparency
A topic that has rumbled on for what feels like an eternity, but grossly important is pay transparency. With the EU’s recently approved ‘Pay Transparency Directive’, we can expect far great coverage, traction and pressure on UK businesses to be transparent around their salaries and day rates.
Businesses who are transparent with their salary listings are quickly becoming hallmarked as progressive – and arguably have a better success rate in attracting, engaging and retaining talent. From increase applications from diverse candidates, to reducing negotiations, to increased candidate trust – it’s a better experience for everyone. Additionally, studies by the CIPD have found that businesses with more transparent pay practices had considerably lower turnover rates amongst their employees, as their more engaged and motivated.
As part of our pledge to encourage greater pay transparency, we launched our Earn Your Worth campaign in 2019, where we actively do not ask our candidates to divulge their salary history, in a bid to cut pay gaps and improve equity across the creative industries. We believe asking for salary history can perpetuate pay inequalities and hinder those from minority groups across gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability & neurodiversity.
By making this simple change to the hiring process, it levels the playing field, and ensures talent are paid fairly based on their skills, experience, and ability to do the job; not on their perceived worth or ability to negotiate
2024 is the year for action
Whilst none of the trends outlined are particularly new, the world of talent acquisition is going to continue to evolve rapidly. We can expect it there to be greater scrutiny on transparency – from tech, data and policy perspectives, with demands and expectations from job seekers and candidates ever growing.
Forecasting the economy and the labour market is incredibly tricky, however, the expectation is that 2024 will be about stability and incremental growth. It’s therefore important, that businesses and talent acquisition professionals continue to remain agile, and pivot where necessary.
Our recent Future of Work 2024 report provides business with valuable insights and actionable strategies to help navigate the changing landscape of work and remain competitive. If there are any trends or insights in the report or above that you would like to discuss in greater detail, or if you would like to talk about your talent acquisition strategies then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and member of our team will be in touch shortly.