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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics in June 2024

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This month, HR and recruiting experts are discussing the green skills gap with data showing green skills are only going to rise in demand. 

AI bias in recruiting is a topic in the spotlight with new research revealing how machine bias can impact recruiting. 

New research also reveals the benefits of humble leadership, a style of leadership that enables leaders to stay more grounded and strengthen the leadership potential of others.

The rising demand for internships and strategies for supporting neurodiversity in the workplace have also been discussed. Key tips are shared for creating more inclusive and supportive internship programs and work environments.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Rising demand for green skills

Trend 1: Rising demand for green skills 

World Environment Day took place on June 5, 2024, and the event got HR teams talking about the green skills gap

The green skills gap refers to the shortage of necessary skills and expertise required to support sustainability initiatives across industries. Skills include carbon accounting, energy engineering, and sustainability education. 

According to LinkedIn's Global Green Skills Report 2023, job postings requiring green skills increased by 22.4% from 2022 to 2023, while green talent only grew by 12.3%. This means demand for green skills is growing twice as fast as supply in the 48 countries studied.

A recent Manpower Group report found that 70% of employers are urgently recruiting or planning to recruit green talent and people with sustainability skills.

The Boston Consulting Group calculates the green skills gap could lead to a shortage of 7 million green energy workers by 2030. 

How HR can close the green skills gap 

A very simple way HR teams can anticipate the growing green skills gap is to begin creating green jobs and nurturing talent.

Specific green jobs and skills will vary across sectors. But, examples of green jobs include sustainable construction managers, climate finance specialists, green product designers and resilience planners. The skills needed for such roles range from an understanding of waste development processes and environmental landscapes to viewing financial investments through a green lens. 

Because there’s a limited supply of green talent in the workforce, hiring managers can begin by looking for candidates with skill adjacencies.  

Certain skills increase workers’ chances of successfully transitioning into jobs with a sustainability focus.  According to LinkedIn, STEM skills top the list because many green jobs rely on science and math. Digital skills can help as companies develop and deploy technological solutions to achieve sustainability goals. Expertise in utilities, mining, and agriculture are useful because these industries are greening rapidly. And public administration skills can be helpful as companies adhere to compliance and policy activities related to climate change. 

Employers can also prioritise reskilling their current workforce for green skills. For instance, a collaboration between Hong Kong University and Friends of the Earth climate group aims to train ESG practitioners to incorporate big data analysis into financial decision-making, addressing the rising climate disclosure demands faced by corporations.

Ultimately, HR teams can prepare for the rise of green skills by projecting future workforce needs and proactively nurturing the right talent for these roles.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Rising demand for green skills

Trend 2: Supporting neurodiversity in the workplace 

Creating an inclusive workplace is an ever-evolving process. This month, experts publishing on sites like Psychology Today and Forbes are about how workplaces can better support neurodiverse talent. 

Neurodiversity encompasses a range of neurological differences such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Embracing neurodiverse talent brings unique perspectives and strengths to teams, fostering innovation, problem-solving, and creativity. Companies that prioritise inclusive practices not only benefit from a diverse talent pool but also cultivate environments where all employees can thrive and contribute their best.

Oft cited research by Harvard Business Review suggests that teams with neurodivergent professionals in some roles can be 30% more productive than those without them. Inclusion and integration of neurodivergent professionals can also boost team morale.

Tips for creating neurodivergent-friendly workplaces 

Companies of all sizes and in all industries can make their workplaces friendly for neurodiverse talent. 

Education is the first step for creating workplaces more inclusive for people with neurodivergence. Providing training sessions to help employees recognise and support neurodivergent colleagues can go a long way. Especially important is understanding that the way individuals receive, interpret and act on information varies significantly according to lived experiences. 

According to Enna Global, a specialist recruiting firm for neurodivergent talent, organisations can also create more inclusive workplaces by: 

  • Hiring with less bias: Ensure job descriptions use language that is inclusive and makes it clear that the organisation welcomes people with neurodivergence. 
  • Implementing workplace accommodations: Simple adjustments like flexible work hours, noise-cancelling headphones, or quiet workspaces can make a big difference. 
  • Fostering open communication: Encourage a culture where employees feel safe discussing their needs and challenges. Regular check-ins can help identify and address issues early on.
  • Promoting a strengths-based approach: Get to know your neurodivergent employees and focus on their unique strengths. Assign tasks that align with skills and interests to enhance job satisfaction and productivity.
  • Building a supportive network: Create support groups or mentorship programs within the organisation. This can provide neurodivergent employees with a sense of community and additional resources.

When it comes to return-to-work policies, organisations can make environments friendlier for neurodivergent people by: 

  • Introducing soundproof booths and quiet workspaces: To allow neurodivergent workers to escape excessive sensory input and potential distractions. 
  • Creating areas with different or lower lighting: To reduce both sensory overload and fatigue. Comfortable break areas are another great idea. 
  • Delivering a clear brief ahead of meetings: to help manage people’s expectations. With a schedule, neurodivergent people can better prepare. Written minutes or a recording of meetings after the event can also assist with memory and comprehension. 

Incorporating strategies like the above can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for neurodivergent employees, fostering their well-being and enabling organisations to be more inclusive. 

Xref branded graphic with text that says AI bias in recruiting

Trend 3: AI bias in recruiting 

Recruiting teams have been early adopters of AI with tools like AI-powered resume scanners, chatbots and candidate screening platforms. 

Using AI in recruiting functions can save time and offer greater objectivity and efficiency by eliminating human biases and enhancing fairness and consistency in decision-making. 

But there is the risk of AI bias creeping into the process. Recent research assessing the use of AI in recruitment and hiring reveals AI can also subtly, and at times, overtly heighten biases. Machine-powered bias occurs because the data sets contain flaws. For example, if resume scanning software is programmed to prioritise candidates from a limited number of preferred universities, it could overlook applicants from other institutions.

Human-designed algorithms using this data can also be biased. Common recruiting biases include stereotype bias and "similar-to-me" bias. Stereotype bias occurs when certain groups are unfairly stigmatised, while "similar-to-me" bias happens when recruiters favour candidates who share similar backgrounds or interests. These biases can be reflected in technological algorithms.

Tips for reducing AI bias 

Just like unconscious human bias, AI bias is an issue teams need to be trained to recognise and deal with. Two ways of dealing with AI bias include education and hybrid workflows. 

1. Education

Academics writing for The Conversation recommend HR and recruiting teams can become trained in how AI systems work, common sources of bias, and strategies for mitigating these biases. 

With this increased awareness, HR and recruiting teams can collaborate with developers to create fairer data sets and algorithms. Additionally, they will be empowered to ask informed questions when purchasing technology, ensuring the selection of tools that reduce bias and promote fairness.

2. Hybrid workflows

HR Daily Advisor suggests recruiting processes should incorporate AI and human touchpoints, including checkpoints to address potential bias. 

AI is well suited to help with: 

  • Initial screening stages that handle standard information 
  • Automating tedious tasks like emails and calendar updates 

Where AI is used for tasks like rank-ordering candidates, the hiring team should have full visibility into the criteria used for ranking and the ability to adjust these criteria as needed. They should also double-check ranks against their own benchmarks. 

Human interviews can then focus on gaining a deeper understanding of a candidate’s skills, values, and motivations while striving to reduce human bias by becoming more standardised and data-driven.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Humble leadership ignites employee potential  

Trend 4: Humble leadership ignites employee potential  

New research from the University of South Australia (UniSA) has found that humble leadership can not only elevate the workplace status of employees – by boosting their sense of respect and prominence – but strengthen an employee’s leadership potential as well.

Humble leadership is a type of workplace leadership behaviour. Humble leaders tend to have a high level of self-awareness of their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They don’t beat themselves up, but they know they’re not always going to be the smartest person in the room, and don’t expect to be the best at everything. 

When leaders understand their weaknesses, they are better at delegating, bringing in outside expertise, exploring different perspectives, and avoiding impulsive decisions.

Humble leaders practice “bottom-up leadership” which involves behaviours such as listening actively and valuing the input of employees, supporting professional development of others and encouraging initiative within their workers.

According to the UniSA study, humble leadership can effectively elevate the workplace status of employees by boosting their sense of respect and prominence. It also leads to employees enhancing their own leadership potential by motivating them to lead and take charge.

Tips for cultivating humble leadership 

Being a humble leader is not a personality trait, it’s a skill people can learn. Humble leadership doesn’t need to be the only style a leader uses but, strengthening this skill set does have advantages like more engaged teams and, as mentioned, strengthening the leadership potential of others. 

Leaders looking to strengthen their humble leadership skill set can do so by: 

  • Understanding personal strengths and weaknesses 
  • Undergoing training to learn the best ways to confirm and acknowledge other people’s strengths 
  • Cultivating more openness to the ideas of others 
  • Developing a better understanding of the needs of their team  
  • Working toward an organisational culture that values humility 

In a nutshell, embracing humble leadership can benefit an entire workplace from leaders themselves to their wider team. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Internships in the spotlight

Trend 5: Internships in the spotlight  

More candidates may be becoming interested in internships. LinkedIn data has found interns are almost 25% more likely than non-interns to start a full-time position within 6 months of graduation. 

A strategic internship can offer quantifiable benefits that can last long into someone’s career. In today’s job market, that may make internships more attractive for students and fresh graduates.

However, data from Indeed shows that, at least in the US, internship rates are lower than usual. According to a recent report, postings for summer jobs are down almost 17% from a year ago, but up 26% from 2019.

Meanwhile, ZipRecruiter measured a 14 per cent year-over-year decline in internship postings in the year’s first quarter.

This pullback on internships could be problematic for companies that want to hire in the future as it might block hiring pipelines. 

But for companies eager to hire interns, depending on their sector and open positions, this decrease in demand could make it easier to fill positions.  

Of course, the demand for interns varies around the world and by industry, but the bottom line is, that internships are becoming more attractive to candidates, and companies can benefit from this increased interest.  

Lessons from Motorola’s internship program 

For organisations running internships, creating a strong program that benefits both parties is ideal. While unpaid internships still exist, paid internships are much more common. More than that, there’s an expectation internships offer structured learning pathways. 

How can HR teams design the best internship program possible? HR Brew took a deep dive into Motorola Solutions internship program to understand how the giant uses its internship program to recruit and retain the next generation of talent. T

This year, the program welcomed about 230 interns who will work at 20 offices and remotely. Interns are integrated into the organisation into different departments and work alongside full-time employees. The goal is to show them how their contributions impact the business. Interns also have the opportunity to network via ice cream socials and river cruises and to develop as professionals through learning sessions. 

While paying for cruises and ice cream socials may not be in every budget, organisations of any size can learn from Motorola’s best practices: 

  • Consider diversity and inclusion: Interns are recruited with DEI in mind. Candidates from underrepresented groups or financial difficulties are given extra support as necessary. 
  • Build a strong foundation: Motorola begins its program with a kickoff event featuring top executives and a personal welcome from the CEO. 
  • Integrate interns with the rest of the team: The program ensures interns work alongside full-time employees for a real-world experience. 
  • Provide meaningful work and support: Managers are actively involved with interns providing regular check-ins, mentorship, and providing relevant projects. 
  • Foster long-term relationships: Maintaining connections creates a strong talent pipeline. Keep connected with care packages and regular communication with company updates and opportunities. 

By implementing these strategies, companies can create a robust internship program that benefits both the interns and the organisation. 

Final thoughts 

This month saw discussions around two main themes: the future of HR and recruiting and enhancements for more routine programs. 

The green skills gap and AI bias in recruiting are both topics that will remain relevant for professionals in years to come. Each is shaping future workforces. 

Assessing leadership styles, running internship programs and supporting diversity and inclusion are standard topics of HR and recruiters. Continuing to learn and improve on these initiatives creates more robust programs and stronger workplaces. 

Embracing these discussions and adopting innovative solutions will be crucial for navigating the changing landscape of HR and recruiting.

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