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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics in April 2024

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This month HR and recruiting teams are discussing whether or not counteroffers are productive. Counteroffers are on the rise due to tight talent markets but their effectiveness is under question. 

The power of alumni networks for recruiting is also being discussed. Corporate alumni networks keep connections between former employees and their past employers, aiding in recruitment by sharing job opportunities and facilitating returns to new positions.

In the HR space, intersectionality has come under the spotlight, particularly its potential to help build stronger DEI policies and initiatives. Another hot topic has been the role HR can play in remedying issues that can cause toxicity in the workplace. 

Finally, April is Stress Awareness Month in many countries around the world leading to robust discussions about the importance of self-care for leaders.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says the rise of counteroffers

Trend 1: The rise of counteroffers  

As demand for talent grows in markets around the world, more companies are utilising counteroffers as part of their retention strategy. 

In the UK, employers plan to increase pay by 5% this year and are increasingly making counteroffers to retain existing staff. 

New research by Robert Half Australia shows that nearly six out of every ten businesses have seen more job candidates deciding to stay with their current employer by accepting counteroffers. 

The same research shows more than a third of employers and employees view counteroffers as a necessary part of the recruitment and retention process when there is a skills shortage. 

Research from ZipRecruiter shows 24% of US employees received a counteroffer from their current employers in the last three months, up from 21%. 

Technology-based businesses like OpenAI and Meta are also making headlines as they fight to retain staff with counteroffers and lucrative pay rises in a competition for AI talent.

Are counteroffers productive? 

While counteroffers are on the rise, experts are questioning their effectiveness

It’s common knowledge in recruiting and HR that counteroffers do not always retain staff in the long term. 

According to Robert Half research, 22% of employees admit counteroffers would only keep them motivated temporarily. Managers say employees who accept counteroffers stay for another 1.7 years. 

Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half, suggests counteroffers may not be productive long-term.  Financial compensation does not always address the reasons at the heart of employee dissatisfaction. 

Further, employees who accept a counteroffer may lose the trust of their current employer regardless of their choice to stay. 

That’s not to say counteroffers aren’t useful but, companies should also proactively address wider elements of their retention policies to keep talent. 

Organisations can start strengthening retention by conducting employee surveys to understand their strengths and weaknesses. 

By measuring engagement levels through Engagement or Pulse Surveys, organisations can start to make positive changes that address the underlying reasons behind employee departure. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says remedying toxic workplaces

Trend 2: Remedying toxic workplaces 

Toxic workplaces have been in the spotlight with discussions taking place around identifying and rectifying harmful cultures. 

A toxic workplace is characterised by harmful behaviours, attitudes, and practices that create a negative environment for employees. These may include things like bullying, harassment, lack of communication, micromanagement, favouritism, and a lack of support or recognition. 

Toxic workplaces hinder employee wellbeing and can impact productivity and leave staff feeling disengaged

On the other hand,  a positive work environment fosters employee satisfaction and engagement and also cultivates a culture of productivity and excellence. It’s therefore in an organisation’s best interest to remedy an environment that is showing signs of toxicity. 

How HR can help rectify a toxic workplace 

The good news is, a toxic workplace is not a life sentence. Toxic workplaces are simply a collection of behaviours and attitudes that can be changed with the right strategies. 

HR can play a strong role in building more positive work cultures. 

A report by US company Secure Data Recovery reveals that half of Americans say a lack of an HR department contributes to a toxic workplace. 

According to experts, HR can start creating positive work cultures by building, or in some cases rebuilding, trust with employees.  This can start with a strategy as simple as running an engagement survey gauging employee sentiments. 

The following strategies are recommended for creating trust and a more positive work culture: 

  1. Listen to employees. Employees need employers to listen to and at least acknowledge feedback. Run an engagement survey to start gathering feedback from employees. 
  2. Place trust in employees. Allow employees autonomy and let them approach their work without micromanagement. Quality and productivity will improve.
  3. Allow mistakes. Recognising mistakes happen and are an opportunity for learning will help create more psychosocial safety in the workplace. Psychosocial safety was a topic in our March HR Trends
  4. Encourage collaboration. Encourage skill and knowledge development through relationships, information sharing and vicarious learning.
  5. Don’t enable bad behaviour. Developing and executing policies and programmes which promote respect, inclusivity and fairness. 
  6. Foster innovation. Get employees aligned around your mission and values and champion innovation and improvement, no matter how small the feats. 

By using these strategies, HR teams can begin to create a more positive work culture that will ultimately help improve employee engagement and enhance productivity. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says using alumni programs for recruiting

Trend 3: Using alumni programs for recruiting 

The concept of boomerang employees (employees who return to a previous employer) has been picking up steam over the years as talent crunches encourage recruiters to get creative with candidate sourcing. 

According to recent data by Reveliolabs, the number of boomerang employees has increased by approximately 30% between 2018 and 2023, growing from 2.6% to 3.4%.

Insights from Reveliolabs research indicate that around 50% of boomerang employees make their return within two years of their initial departure, with approximately 80% rejoining within five years. 

The rise of boomerang employees underscores the importance of creating a positive post-employment experience. 

One way organisations can assist and remain connected with former team members is to create a corporate alumni program. 

What is a corporate alumni program? 

Alumni programs are formal efforts by an organisation to maintain connections and foster ongoing relationships with former employees for networking, mentorship, recruitment, and brand advocacy purposes.

Alumni programs can lead to new business opportunities, enhance employer branding and reputation, and support hiring processes by providing referrals or coming back as returning employees themselves.

For alumni, being part of such a network offers networking opportunities, access to professional development and connection with mentors. 

Large companies like Starbucks, Mckinsey, LinkedIn, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and SAP utilise alumni programs. 

How to create a corporate alumni program 

According to Harvard Business Review, creating a corporate alumni program doesn’t need to be complex, especially for businesses new to the concept. 

An organisation can start by creating an alumni group on a social network like LinkedIn and use this platform for sharing updates and company news including new job opportunities, hearing from former employees and organising network events. 

More formal approaches include utilising an alumni platform. 

For example, Accenture manages its alumni network of over 400,000 ex-employees across more than 80 countries with an official alumni platform that offers a variety of benefits and services such as prioritised re-hire opportunities, career development resources, alumni newsletters, and networking events.

Discover whether or not employees want to be part of an alumni program by asking them during an exit survey. Adding an opt-in option to an exit survey (not to be mistaken with an exit interview) ensures you automate additions to your alumni program and can help create a warm talent pool of former employees. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says focussing on intersectionality

Trend 4: Focusing on intersectionality 

Do you feel your diversity and inclusion initiatives (DEI) aren’t as effective as they could be? If so, it might be time to put more focus on intersectionality. 

Intersectionality refers to a framework that acknowledges people hold more than one social identity such as race, gender, age and sexuality. These multiple identities intersect to create unique experiences in the workplace. 

Everyone has more than one identity and by acknowledging this, HR teams can cultivate a work environment that’s not just inclusive, but equitable and supportive.

By considering intersectionality, HR teams can create stronger DEI initiatives and foster a greater sense of belonging, and psychological safety in the workplace. 

How HR teams can focus on intersectionality  

HR teams can start becoming more aware of intersectionality by reviewing DEI programs and asking whether they take into account people who hold multiple identities. 

Start by asking questions like: 

  • Did our International Women’s Day panel represent women from diverse backgrounds, women with disability, or young women, who are starting out in their career?  
  • Are our events accessible to different people of age groups, cultures, abilities and demographics?
  • Does our Family Domestic Violence (FDV) policy consider how we will support migrant people or LGBTQIA+ folks?   

HR teams can begin to focus on intersectionality by measuring the effectiveness of current programs. Consulting with different groups within your organisation about how they view policies is one way you can begin to do this.  

Leaders can also consult and build relationships with peak bodies such as multicultural, disability or LGBTQIA+ organisations who can advise you on matters related to their community or population. 

Overall, considering intersectionality can add weight to DEI programs and help create a thriving and more inclusive workplace. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says self-care for leaders

Trend 5: Self-care for leaders 

It’s Stress Awareness Month in countries like the US, UK and India. As a result, worldwide discussions around the importance of self-care for leaders have been taking place. 

Self-care is essential for leaders because it helps them remain healthy, prevent burnout and creates a ripple effect across an organisation. 

The way a leader approaches their health and work-life balance is highly likely to influence other employees. By modelling healthy behaviours, leaders can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of others. 

Tips for better self-care 

Leaders and managers can begin taking better care of themselves by cultivating greater self-awareness and self-empathy

Embracing self-empathy can fuel both one’s growth as a leader and the company’s success. 

Here are some examples of how leaders with self-empathy can positively influence their teams: 

  • Owning up to limitations can foster trust and collaboration 
  • Modelling vulnerability can create a more inclusive and caring culture 
  • Staying aligned with core values can prevent burnout 
  • Staying home when sick can set a good self-care example 
  • Admitting to mistakes creates a safe space for others to do the same 

HR teams can play a pivotal role in helping leaders take better self-care. By organising internal or external training programs that foster a leader’s growth, HR can help leaders deepen their understanding of themselves and others, a move that will lead to greater wellbeing across an organisation. 

Final thoughts

This month, HR and recruiting teams have questioned the effectiveness of counteroffers, considered the perks of a corporate alumni program, suggested revamping DEI programs with a stronger focus on intersectionality, discussed remedies for toxic workplaces and emphasised the importance of self-care for leaders. 

A theme across these trends has been the importance of engagement. Focusing on employee engagement helps improve retention and thus makes it more likely for employees to stay at an organisation, regardless of competing job offers. 

Improving DEI programs with intersectionality is also a move that works to foster more engagement and inclusion from different people across the workforce. 

Remedying toxic workplaces and prioritising self-care for leaders are acts that lead to greater wellbeing in the workplace and thus, amplify engagement. 

Then, once an employee leaves an organisation, they can remain engaged with a company through a corporate alumni program. Such programs maintain positive connections with former team members and raise the likelihood of boomerang employees.

Interested in reading more about engagement? Read our blog about increasing retention through employee engagement. We will be back next month with May’s trending topics. 

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