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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics in September 2023

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A variety of topics have been on the radar for HR and recruiting teams this September. 

Experts are discussing the benefits of getting more out of HR technology by using processes like virtual onboarding.

Stay interviews are being highlighted as a powerful retention tactic and diversity and inclusion (DEI) is proving to be a significant consideration for candidates. 

Regarding work-life balance, HR is talking about the importance of microbreaks to prevent burnout and discontent. 

Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) are a trending employee benefit with organisations considering this option as a way to diversify benefits programs and retain employees. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Onboarding in the metaverse

Trend 1: Onboarding in the metaverse 

A metaverse is a virtual or augmented world where people interact using 3D technologies. Think about those scenes in movies where someone puts on a pair of goggles and enters a virtual world, that’s what the metaverse can offer! 

According to AI expert Cristian Randieri, the metaverse promises to shift how we perceive and engage with the digital world. 

The ability to create and enter virtual worlds offers endless opportunities for workplaces and specifically HR teams. 

Using 3D technologies, organisations can create virtual worlds where employees can join work remotely but still feel like they are in the same location as their colleagues. This can help boost collaboration, engagement and a sense of belonging in the workplace. 

According to the World Bank, the metaverse also holds massive opportunities for skills and workforce development. 

Worlds in the metaverse can mimic real-life scenarios like a workshop or professional kitchen. This makes the metaverse an ideal place to onboard and train new starters in all types of jobs, especially more dangerous jobs like welding and fire rescue. 

Similarly, it can be valuable for those who work from home or engage in remote work to gain training and development opportunities

Companies like KFC, Volkswagen and Walmart are already using the metaverse to support employees through onboarding and training. 

The team at Talent Culture agrees the metaverse holds massive potential for onboarding team members and engaging employees with professional development and more. 

Traditional onboarding and training processes see new hires sign paperwork and then begin onboarding independently or in groups. This can happen online or in physical settings. 

Since COVID-19, online onboarding has become much more popular and sophisticated. But, talent acquisition and human resources managers still face challenges when it comes to helping new hires feel connected to their workplace and new company culture. 

When using the metaverse for onboarding and training, “new hires can enter a virtual environment that simulates their new workspace and introduces them to their team and their role.” 

Using virtual reality, remote onboarding can be more engaging and effective which can help new hires get acclimated to their roles at a faster pace and improve their job satisfaction. 

According to the Academy to Innovate HR, both large and small businesses can harness the metaverse. Large businesses are more likely to create custom-designed metaverse worlds while smaller teams can utilise more cost-friendly software to create virtual environments for their teams. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Stay interviews are more important than ever

Trend 2: Stay interviews are more important than ever 

Retention is always on an HR leader's mind and stay interviews are one tactic in the spotlight right now. 

A stay interview is an interview managers have with their employees about their current roles. Managers seek to discover what an employee likes about their current role (why they choose to stay) and what could be improved. 

The purpose of a stay interview is to uncover what keeps an employee engaged and motivated as well as to identify potential issues and areas for improvement. 

Unlike exit interviews, which are conducted once an employee has quit, stay interviews are designed to pre-empt resignation. 

According to Exact Hire, the information collected during exit interviews is useful for creating positive change and preventing the loss of future talent. But, they aren’t very effective when it comes to retaining departing talent. 

Stay interviews can help companies proactively retain their top talent by having important conversations before the resignation stage. 

Planning stay interviews  

The ultimate goal of a stay interview is to prevent turnover and create a supportive work environment. 

The team at Adecco suggests setting clear goals for stay interviews and only surveying top talent and long-term employees.

Experts at Exact Hire suggest surveying all departments and employee levels to gain a broad scope of insight. 

There is no right or wrong answer about who to interview, it all depends on your organisation’s goals. 

Conducting stay interviews 

Stay interviews can be conducted as one-on-one interviews with managers and employees. This approach works well if you plan to interview a smaller number of employees.

If you’re planning to interview a wide range of employees, consider using survey technology. Using digital surveys will make it faster to interview a higher number of employees and importantly, it’ll make analysing data much easier. 

The right technology will help you quickly identify insights that can help drive productive change. 

For example, Torrens University conducted digital stay interviews and compared the information gathered with data from their exit interviews. The rich insights gleaned helped the university create positive changes for employees. 

Creating questions for a stay interview

Before creating questions for your stay interview, first take the time to plan what information you’d like to uncover. Then, create questions about these intentions. 

For example, you may want to know what employees: 

  • Enjoy about their their day-to-day. 
  • Feel about the support they currently receive.
  • Prefer when it comes to acknowledgement for contributions.   
  • Think would tempt them to leave your organisation. 
  • Wish they could change about their job or workplace in general. 

Craft questions with precise language. Those at Adecco, Exact Hire and Innova agree it is crucial to act on feedback received during a stay interview to build trust and show employees you value them. So, try to avoid asking questions if you do not plan on acting on the answers. 

For instance, if you want to know how employees feel about their remuneration, word the question carefully so employees clearly understand why you are asking and what you plan to do with the information. 

Ultimately, HR leaders can use stay interviews as a data-driven tool in their retention arsenal to discover what keeps employees engaged and use this knowledge to create a better workplace and prevent resignations. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says DEI is increasingly important to candidates

Trend 3: DEI is increasingly important to candidates 

A recent report by US-based Eagle Hill Consulting revealed 53% of workers say a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives play a key role in their decision about where to work. 

In addition, 63% say it’s important a potential role has employees they identify with while 59% would like to see leaders they identify with. 

According to HR Digest and HR Dive, these statistics indicate a growing trend where candidates are increasingly expressing an interest in DEI initiatives. 

A large part of creating a healthy and positive work culture for all employees revolves around embracing all kinds of people and celebrating differences. 

Melissa Jezior, CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting says on the matter, “A culture where employees feel connected and valued has become a competitive factor when it comes to attracting and keeping top workers.”

Tips for bolstering DEI efforts

According to HR Digest, organisations can bolster their DEI efforts by setting measurable objectives. This could include improving DEI education, advancing toward pay equity, striving for diverse employee representation, building a diversified talent pipeline and establishing a DEI committee or advisory board.

Experts at HR Digest remind us DEI is not a static goal but “an ongoing journey toward building a workplace where every individual is valued and has the opportunity to thrive.” 

By measuring employee perceptions and feelings toward DEI initiatives, organisations can spot areas for improvement and take stronger steps toward their goals. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says The power of microbreaks

Trend 4: The power of microbreaks 

Professionals have been discussing the importance of breaks when it comes to work-life balance and employee wellbeing. 

In the spotlight right now are microbreaks. Microbreaks are short breaks of about 10 minutes that employees can take throughout the workday. 

In this article by Yahoo, microbreaks are listed as a way to boost productivity. The news outlet cites a study published in the Journal of Organisational Behavior where office workers were followed in South Korea over the course of 10 workdays. It was found microbreaks boosted energy and the ability to mentally recover from work tasks.

Peoplematters also discussed a study by researchers from the journal PLOS ONE. It was found that 10-minute breaks made workers less tired and more positive. Significantly, microbreaks helped workers and students face routine tasks. Tasks involving a lot of mental power weren’t proven to be made easier with microbreaks but could bring back some energy. 

Those at Harvard Business Review (HBR) warn of the perils of overworking after coming back from holiday and list microbreaks as one way to halt the stress cycle.  

As noted by experts at the HBR, those who don’t take the opportunity to rest and recharge are at higher risk of exhaustion, poor performance and low motivation. 

While longer breaks are advised, experts say “even microbreaks taken throughout the workday, such as stretching, doing some deep breathing exercises, or stepping outside for some fresh air, can halt the stress cycle and return you to baseline.”

Tips for taking microbreaks 

When it comes to taking microbreaks the team at Peoplematters suggests working in intervals. Aim for a work interval of around 90 minutes, followed by a 15 to 20-minute break. Within the working period, sprinkle in 5 to 10-minute microbreaks. 

Spend your break time doing things that energise and/or relax you (like going for a walk, reading a book, chatting with a colleague, or meditating) and take note of what does and doesn’t work for you. 

For HR managers and leaders, it’s important to note how important breaks can be for employees. Embrace flexibility and ensure employees know it’s okay to take breaks, especially from work that feels stressful. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says More employers are offering lifestyle spending accounts as an employee benefit

Trend 5: More employers are offering lifestyle spending accounts as an employee benefit 

Employee benefits are more important than ever due to the talent crunch industries around the world are facing. HR professionals are constantly looking for ways to create points of difference and keep employees happy. 

Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) are an employee benefit in the spotlight right now. An LSA is an allowance employees can use on lifestyle-related products and services. This can range from hobby-related purchases to fitness memberships and beauty treatments. 

The flexibility offered by lifestyle spending accounts is desirable to both employers and employees as needs inside and outside of work are constantly shifting. 

What is a lifestyle spending account? 

Think of lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) as an account with extra pocket money for employees to spend on items and services related to their lifestyle. This could be a martial arts course, pottery class, car detail, or anything else you, the employer, decide fits the bill. 

Unlike schemes like healthcare spending accounts, lifestyle spending accounts are not tax deductive and are not subject to specific stipulations. 

Employers choose how LSAs are set up, who is eligible and what items and services are allowed to be redeemed. 

Usually, LSAs are set up so employers only pay for transactions made. That means employees aren’t freely given sums to spend, rather they receive reimbursement once a purchase is made. 

In short, an LSA gives employees access to added money to spend on their lifestyle. LSAs can be an attractive benefit because they are flexible and give employees access to added products and services they may not have otherwise been able to afford. 

The increasing popularity of lifestyle spending accounts 

According to Benepass, LSAs have increased in popularity and are now offered by 51% of companies compared to 22% in 2022. 

The main benefit of LSAs is that money isn’t required to be spent on something specific like a gym membership. Employees can tailor the benefit to their lifestyle needs. For example, an employee may love horse riding and use LSA funds to pay for riding lessons or a new pair of riding shoes.

The team at CFO Brew suggests LSAs are like offering employees a raise with a different name and way to access money. LSAs have no legal definition and are not subject to the conditions of programs like superannuation plans, healthcare plans and salary packing. Of course, every country has its own unique laws so it is best to check if you are considering adding this benefit to your lineup. 

The benefits of LSAs

According to experts at WTW LSAs can be beneficial to employers because they are flexible plans. 

Employers can decide how LSAs are designed and used by selecting which expenses will be eligible, outlining employee eligibility requirements and personalising benefits for different groups. Employers can also save by setting budgets and choosing to only cover the costs of funds used by employees. 

LSAs can also boost an employer’s value proposition by: 

  • Differentiating benefit offerings by offering new, innovative options. 
  • Promoting a healthy workplace culture by encouraging employees to invest in wellbeing, fitness, hobbies and other personalised perks and activities.
  • Showing employees you are thinking about different ways to meet their needs. 

As quoted on Insurance News Net, Jaclyn Chen, CEO of Benepass says, "Companies need to meet a wide range of wants and needs with their benefits programs, and they're becoming more aware that traditional one-size-fits-all benefits aren't designed for today's workforce.” 

Programs like LSAs are more flexible as they aren’t tied to specific guidelines. This makes them well-suited to modern work cultures where remote and hybrid work is the norm. More flexible working styles have allowed employees to change how they live and LSAs can help employees fund their ideal lifestyles both inside, and outside of work. 

Final thoughts 

As the war on talent and rising rates of employee burnout continue, it’s important for HR and recruiting leaders to think innovatively to help improve acquisition and retention and boost wellbeing. 

Stay interviews and microbreaks are great ways to improve retention and create better work days for employees. 

The metaverse offers a great point of difference for employers looking to create strong onboarding programs just as LSAs hold the potential to strengthen benefits programs and boost employer value propositions. 

It’s also clear DEI initiatives are on the radar for candidates, making it important for organisations to continue to make positive changes in this space by setting measurable goals that can be tracked and shared.

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