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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics for February 2024

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February is drawing to a close and organisations are settling back into routines, tackling the challenges and opportunities the new year is presenting. 

Trending topics this month reflect the return to business as usual. Discussions centre around dealing with no-show candidates, fostering intergenerational inclusion, building internal and external talent pools and rethinking traditional performance reviews. 

There’s a clear focus on bridging the skills gap that’s occurring across industries and creating stronger work cultures. 

Read on for more insights. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Dealing with no-show candidates

Trend 1: Dealing with no-show candidates 

Candidates who don’t attend job interviews or their first day of work are making hiring more difficult. 

A recent survey by Indeed revealed 86% of UK job seekers have not shown up for a job interview without giving notice. 

75% of workers say they’ve ignored a prospective employer in the past year. 

According to Indeed data, Gen Zers are the demographic more likely to ghost recruiters with 93% saying they haven’t attended interviews and 87% saying they have not shown up to work after accepting a job offer. 

While the Indeed report shows Gen Zers are the most likely to no-show, all demographics have taken part in job ghosting. 

Reasons for flaking on recruiters and new roles include: 

  • Better job offers 
  • Discomfort of rejecting an offer 
  • Expenses associated with starting a new role 

Candidates also view ghosting during certain stages of the recruitment process as acceptable since some employers display the same behaviours. 

Dealing with no-show candidates and last-minute withdrawals 

One in five workers say they have had a prospective employer fail to show up to a phone interview. 23% say they received a verbal offer and have then been left hanging. 

The first way to prevent ghosting is to make sure your organisation leads by example. 

Ensure all your communication with candidates is streamlined and that all meetings and job offers are carefully monitored and followed up on. 

A clear recruitment process with the right automation can help busy teams stay on top of candidate communication. For example, by using digital reference checking busy recruiters can ensure the process is fast and includes all the right communication touchpoints with both candidates and referees. 

To prevent last-minute withdrawals recruiters can: 

  • Ensure job descriptions are clear and candidates understand the role correctly. 
  • Keep communications lines open with candidates with regular check-ins.
  • Normalise different types of communication so those who find phone calls awkward have different options. 
  • Offer a bonus to help cover the costs of starting a new role. 

When it comes to handling last-minute withdrawals, experts suggest:

  • Keeping nurtured talent pools active so roles can be filled quickly. 
  • Remaining transparent with internal teams and offering alternative solutions like freelancers and cross-departmental transfers to plug talent gaps. 
  • Maintaining empathy and understanding for candidates to maintain employer reputation. 
  • Assessing recruiting procedures to identify areas for improvement. 

Candidates often withdraw or ghost due to slow hiring processes, insufficient communication and an alternative job offer with better pay. If withdrawals are becoming more frequent it’s time to identify reasons. Recruiters can start by assessing the length of their hiring process and remuneration packages. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Fostering intergenerational inclusion

Trend 2: Fostering intergenerational inclusion

The case for intergenerational inclusion is building. 

Harnessing the ideas, experiences, and networks of talented employees from all generations has the potential to deliver significant productivity gains.

Different generations can contribute to team knowledge, skills, and networks in complementary ways. On the other hand, divides and conflicts between different generations can impact an organisation’s success. 

Research by The Inclusion Initiative and Protiviti shows generational frictions can lower productivity. 

Low levels of productivity are reported by 37% of Gen Z, 30% of Millennials, 22% of Gen X and 14% of Baby Boomers across organisations. 

The same research shows employees who have larger age gaps with their senior managers (more than 12 years older) are nearly 1.5 times as likely to report low productivity, and nearly three times as likely to report being extremely dissatisfied with their job.

Workplaces that bridge employee-manager age gaps and foster generationally inclusive work environments are more likely to thrive. 

Tips for creating intergenerational inclusion 

A healthy work culture that prioritises diversity is a great building block for fostering intergenerational inclusion. 

You can also promote intergenerational inclusion by: 

Intergenerationally inclusive work practices reduce the proportion of all employees reporting low productivity. Employees of all ages who work at generationally inclusive organisations are twice as likely to be satisfied with their jobs and 1.5 times less likely to look for a new role. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Building pipelines of contingent talent

Trend 3: Building pipelines of contingent talent

Last month we talked about the rise of fractional workers. The freelance and gig economy is becoming more popular with all types of contract workers entering the market, including fractional C-suite executives. 

In response to this growing trend, recruiters and HR teams are looking to build pipelines of contingent talent. That way, when a talent gap appears it can be filled quickly. 

To build pipelines of freelancers and contractors recruiters can: 

  • Ask candidates and referees if they’d like to join contract talent pools. 
  • Set up accounts on popular freelancing sites on Upwork and Fiverr. 
  • Join social media groups designed for finding talent in specific fields.  
  • Create expression of interest job ads for all types of workers. 
  • Partner with LinkedIn influencers to amplify job opportunities and attract talent. 
  • Use sites like LinkedIn to source and reach out to prospective talent.

By creating warm talent pools you can hire contract talent quickly and keep projects in your organisation moving.  

Tips for onboarding fractional talent 

Onboarding is important for all new team members, even those who are working on a freelance or contract basis. 

To set fractional talent up for success make sure you: 

  • Conduct due diligence and reference checking as per usual 
  • Introduce workers to your company, values and goals
  • Make lines of reporting and expectations clear
  • Provide access to the right tools and systems 
  • Set clear project timelines and scopes of work 
  • Organise a regular check-in process

Overall, treat fractional workers as one of your own by offering the same appreciation and recognition you would a full-time staff member. Embracing fractional workers as part of the team leads to higher productivity and a stronger work culture.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Rethinking performance reviews 

Trend 4: Rethinking performance reviews 

Are traditional performance reviews dead

The effectiveness of performance reviews is a topic that comes in and out of the HR spotlight. 

Public decisions by large companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Block to move away from traditional performance reviews have brought this topic back under discussion.  

Critics say traditional performance reviews can be ineffective, a key reason being they are time-consuming and deliver feedback in chunks. Research by Adobe shows 80% of workers prefer feedback in the moment rather than after months.

Other reasons critics say traditional performance reviews can be ineffective is because they can be:

  • Time-consuming and expensive to manage 
  • Focused on employee weaknesses rather than strengths 
  • Open to bias 
  • Infrequent and inconsisent 
  • Stressful and competitive 

Of course, every company approaches performance reviews differently and not every traditional process is ineffective or falls prey to the points listed above. When conducted correctly performance reviews can enable fair raises and promotions, guide employee development and inform HR initiatives. 

Revamping performance reviews 

Organisations doing away with traditional performance reviews are not removing feedback loops altogether.  

Rather than rely on one-time annual feedback, some organisations are implementing more regular two-way feedback processes that focus on employee strengths as well as weaknesses. 

Organisations looking to reimagine performance reviews can consider: 

  • Creating a process with more regular check-ins including weekly one-on-ones between employees and managers. 
  • Opening feedback loops so employees can provide feedback on managers and wider organisation. 
  • Using tools that assist with regular employee surveys and reviews. 
  • Tailoring feedback around future goals rather than looking back at what went wrong. 

Most importantly, organisations should frequently review their feedback process and understand how employees feel about it. 

Feedback loops should inspire and motivate employees to do their best work and so it’s important to regularly check in and understand how staff feel about the way feedback is given and presented. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Focusing on internal mobility 

Trend 5: Focusing on internal mobility 

In today’s market, addressing skill gaps and retaining employees are top concerns for recruiting and HR teams. Internal mobility is therefore becoming a priority for organisations. 

Building competencies in-house ensures organisations aren’t left without critical skills in their business and are at less risk of losing top talent to competitors. 

A 2022 study by Lever found that loyal employees were highly interested in internal mobility. 41% planned to ask for some type of role change in the near future and 61% said they would begin looking for a new position if a role change wasn’t available.  

LinkedIn data shows workers who make an internal move at their organisation at the two-year mark are 75% more likely to stay long-term. 

By creating a strong internal mobility program your organisation can: 

  • Prepare employees with future-ready skills 
  • Create an internal pool of available talent 
  • Improve employee engagement and retention 
  • Improve productivity by plugging talent gaps quickly 
  • Reduce recruiting and onboarding costs 
Setting up internal mobility programs 

Recruiting and HR teams looking to create stronger internal mobility programs should start by investing in an internal skills gap analysis. Using this data, teams can create learning and development programs that are directly tailored to an organisation’s current and future needs.  

To set internal mobility initiatives up for success experts also recommend: 

  • Communicating commitments to internal hiring
  • Developing clear career paths that showcase mobility 
  • Recognising and rewarding employees who embrace internal mobility 
  • Encouraging promotion from within
  • Regularly discussing internal mobility options with staff 

Overall, investing in internal mobility can help organisations plug current and future talent gaps and develop greater resilience to hiring challenges. 

Final thoughts 

This month’s HR trends reflect a focus on hiring and retaining talent and plugging skill gaps. 

By devising better plans to deal with no-show candidates organisations can create stronger hiring practices and ensure top talent doesn’t fall through recruiting cracks. 

When it comes to retaining talent, investing in internal mobility and intergenerational inclusion initiatives as well as rethinking performance reviews can help create a happier and more motivated workforce. 

Skill gaps can also be addressed with internal mobility programs as well as by hiring contingent talent. HR teams can prepare to plug skill gaps by focusing on reskilling initiatives and by taking the time to build talent pools of highly skilled contractors. 

With the entire year still ahead, it’s the perfect time to refocus on the basics to set your teams and organisations up for success.

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