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We are hurtling ever closer to the halfway mark of 2023. As with each month before, May brings fresh challenges and new opportunities for human resources (HR) and talent acquisition (TA) teams.
Trending topics this month share one theme: adjusting organisational practices to appeal to employees’ evolving needs to increase engagement and retention.
From investing in internal mobility to rebranding work-life balance, keep reading to discover the five trending topics in the HR and TA space this month.
Finding skilled talent for vacant positions is a challenge for organisations worldwide. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, released earlier this month, found that bolstering internal mobility programs is important for holding onto top talent and developing people leaders.
However, there are gaps in how different generations perceive internal mobility. According to LinkedIn’s report, Generation X employees (born between 1965 and 1980) are more likely to move internally within an organisation (36%) than other generations. The least likely to move internally are Baby Boomers (21%). Millennials and Generation Z sit in the middle (31% and 27%, respectively).
LinkedIn puts this down to younger workers being unaware of the development opportunities at their organisation. One solution is to regularly advertise open positions to existing employees, encourage them to talk to their managers about other opportunities at the organisation, and share success stories of employees who have moved internally.
What’s more, shifting demographics may be widening skills gaps. According to research by Forbes, Baby Boomers are retiring, and there is a steep learning curve for Gen X to move into leadership roles. At the same time, Millennials are moving out of entry-level roles, but before Gen Z fills those gaps, they must also gain more experience.
Internal mobility opportunities and skill building can remedy this transition period. Especially for younger workers (Millennials and Gen Z) who, according to LinkedIn’s research, are more likely to leave their organisation to gain more experience, responsibility, or a promotion, than stay at their current organisation. LinkedIn’s report states that organisations that invest in employee skill-building on the job see a retention rate of nearly 7% higher.
However, internal mobility is not high on the agenda. According to research by TalentBoard, which asked TA teams what their priorities for 2023 are, internal mobility ranked 12th on the list (onboarding, candidate experience, and diversity, equality and inclusion ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively).
Despite not being at the top of the priority list, there is a good reason why the conversation around internal mobility is getting louder. Developing internal mobility programs is a good way to retain skilled workers, which is critical in a candidate-short market where talent is hard to find.
It is generally understood that adopting technology will improve organisational processes, but research by KPMG found that 77% of Australian talent leaders say that digitising talent acquisition, retention and re/upskilling is a top challenge in 2023. In addition, 61% surveyed expect it to be a continued challenge for three to five years.
Digitising talent acquisition is essential in this candidate-short market. The ANZ Hiring Trends report by SmartRecruiters highlights that TA teams need to do more with less to tackle staff shortages. Technology can help by creating a seamless and engaging candidate experience.
The SmartRecruiters report points out that a lot can go wrong in the candidate screening and interview process, and candidates can lose interest quickly. Research on the candidate experience by Talent Board shows that candidates become frustrated by recruitment processes that take longer than two to three weeks. More than half (55%) of candidates will not wait more than a week after their final interview for a job offer and will move on.
Since candidates hold the power, TA teams must speed up the hiring process so they don’t miss out on top talent. Technology can automate many time-consuming tasks, such as:
The candidate experience can make or break the entire talent journey. Organisations that don’t harness technology may be disadvantaged, as their processes will typically take longer than those that use technology.
An example of when HR and TA teams can harness technology is during the reference checking process. Xref’s Reference Checking software automates the reference checking process, saving time and reducing admin, helping recruiters to secure talent faster. An Xref reference check can be created in 30 seconds, and results are returned in 18 hours on average.
If you want to attract the best talent, use technology to reduce the hiring time and get employees onboard as soon as possible.
Gen Z are the pioneers of new workplace norms, and up for debate this month is hustle culture: Is it on the way out?
Hustle culture refers to a mindset of working consistently hard (read: overworking) and striving for success, even at the detriment of one’s mental wellbeing. Burnout is a common symptom of ‘hustling’.
BBC Worklife notes that the #grindset mentality of hustle culture was popularised by Millennials in the 1990s and 2000s when tech giants like Google and Facebook were experiencing significant growth in Silicon Valley. The idea was that entrepreneurs needed to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and sacrifice personal time if they were going to be successful.
Hustle culture has been glorified for years, but now Gen Z workers are pushing back. They are dismantling the often toxic idea that overworking is the only way to succeed.
According to Microsoft research, Gen Z is ditching the traditional 9-5 work hours. According to a survey by Snapchat of over 2000 Gen Z Australians, almost 9 in 10 (87%) respondents prefer to find alternative ways to make a living and 83% look for employment that offers flexibility, balance and wellbeing.
The push-back doesn’t mean these ‘Gen-trepreneurs’ aren’t ambitious – nearly half (48%) of Gen Z have side hustles, according to Microsoft research, and many wear multiple hats and have working vacations. They are simply finding new ways to reach their goals.
This isn’t the first time Gen Z has opted out of hustle culture. Quiet quitting is a workplace term adopted by Gen Z to refer to doing what’s required at work but no more. Xref discussed the quiet quitting trend in detail in our August 2022 trends blog.
A new term on the scene is ‘Bare Minimum Mondays’, which was coined by a Gen Z TikTok creator who explained that, on Mondays, they do the bare minimum to ease work-related stress and anxiety. The creator considers this the antidote to the ‘Sunday Scaries’ (aka ‘Sunday Blues’). Managers may adopt a similar approach to the workweek to get the best out of their employees. For example, they may allocate simpler tasks to complete on Mondays, more challenging tasks mid-week, and encourage a slower pace on a Friday afternoon.
Like every generation before it, Gen Z is redefining their work and setting their boundaries. For them, balance is not the enemy of success, so hustle culture likely has no place in their future.
The term ‘work-life balance’ has been thrown around for years, especially post-pandemic, as many employees work remotely or in a hybrid environment. Since it has become harder to separate work and life, and the line between them is inherently blurry, is ‘balance’ the right descriptor? Is ‘work-life balance’ due a rebrand entirely?
An article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out that the term work-life balance was introduced in the early 1900s and therefore does not reflect work in 2023. Instead, the article suggests, a more accurate term is ‘work-life integration’.
An Atlassian article explains that work-life balance is an idealistic state where work and life thrive separately. Work-life integration (WLI), on the other hand, is more holistic. It’s about creating continuity between work and life, where the two work cohesively and meet professional and personal needs simultaneously.
It makes sense – clear separation is simply not realistic for workers today. For many, the end of the work day is symbolised by the closing of the laptop or the shutting of an office door, not leaving a physical office and commuting home.
In practice, WLI is where workers are less concerned with rigid work hours (e.g. working from 9-5 and the rest is ‘personal’ time) and instead consider the best time to complete certain professional or personal activities. This may look like answering emails first thing in the morning, taking a few hours to do a personal activity, and then working on a professional task until the end of the day.
There is no blueprint for implementing WLI within an organisation, and some workplaces may be more suited to it than others (office work may be a better fit than shift work, for example). If your organisation is considering implementing a WLI approach, below are some considerations and challenges to be aware of.
WLI may be a better term to describe how employees work in remote and hybrid environments, but implementing WLI practices depends on an organisation's culture. At Xref, employees have the flexibility to do personal tasks – such as walking the dog, doing the school pick-up, going to the gym, etc. – with confidence that their manager accepts and shares the sentiment about integrating work and life.
A hot topic among HR experts right now is pay and benefits. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that compensation ranks top of employees’ priorities. This fact is backed up by ADP’s recent report, ‘People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View’, which found that 61% of employees think compensation is the most important factor in a job.
Concern around pay coincides with inflation and the rising cost of living, and poor financial health can affect mental and physical wellness. According to ADP, more than six in 10 (62%) globally received a pay rise last year, averaging a 6.4% increase. However, this increase fell short of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) global inflation forecast for 2022 of 8.7%.
If awarding salary increases or bonuses isn’t an option, employers must consider other ways to compensate employees to satisfy them. According to ADP’s research, there are plenty of ways employees would like to be rewarded:
For HR guru Josh Bersin, the challenge around pay runs deeper. Bersin recognises the challenges facing organisations (the war for talent, employees living in different locations with varied cost of living, inflation, etc.) and suggests they cannot meet employees’ pay and benefits expectations because pay practices have not evolved in decades. “Corporate pay practices simply have not kept up with the new world of work,” says Bersin.
Bersin’s solution is to utilise a ‘Systemic Awards’ approach. This approach goes beyond ‘Total Rewards', which is a compensation and benefits model that aims to engage workers by offering various monetary rewards and other types of rewards. A Systemic Awards approach, on the other hand, centres around pay equity and pay fairness, pay for performance, and personalisation to meet varying employee needs.
According to Bersin in a media release, a competitive salary is an essential pillar in a Systemic Awards approach, but it isn’t all that matters. Employees should also be offered the following:
Rewarding staff in difficult financial times benefits employers and employees alike. Rewards don’t have to be monetary, but they should be relevant to employees' challenges and needs. Equitable pay is also without question in this world of remote working, where dispersed teams are the norm.
The trending topics in May present some interesting questions for HR: Do employees know about internal mobility opportunities at the organisation? Are we losing out on candidates due to slow hiring processes?
Also curious is how different generations perceive work and their opportunities within it. With Gen Z and Millennials expected to make up 58% of the global workforce by 2030, considering their needs and expectations is essential for engaging and retaining them. According to the trend topics of discussion this month, heightened degrees of flexibility in the workday are likely on the horizon.
It will also be interesting to see whether organisations adopt a 'Systemic Awards' approach to pay and benefits.
To learn more about the HR and recruitment trends of 2023, check out the key HR and recruitment trends for April 2023.