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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics for November 2023

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We’re in the penultimate month of the year but the HR and recruiting space is not slowing down. 

The role of generative AI in recruiting has been a hot topic with experts discussing how talent acquisition professionals can use new platforms to reach more candidates and speed up workflows. 

Recent research shows employee engagement is dropping to all-time lows and HR teams are talking about how to mitigate this trend.

Skills-based hiring is back in the spotlight with articles discussing the benefits of placing less focus on educational qualifications. 

Conversations about the future of work continue. Last month, return-to-office strategies were heavily discussed. This month, new research reveals employees don’t feel they are being included in discussions about their preferred working style. 

Finally, with the holiday season around the corner, it’s time for leaders to begin considering employee gift ideas. Choosing the right gift involves thinking of employee individuality while also sticking to budgets and keeping a sense of professionalism.  

Xref branded green graphic with text that says using generative ai in recruiting

Trend 1: Using generative AI in recruiting 

Recruiters can expect more solutions powered by generative AI in the near future. 

Most will be familiar with the term generative AI by now, but here is a refresher. 

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) describes technology that can create new content. 

In the business world, generative AI is being used to write code, create content strategies, integrate technology stacks and routinise day-to-day administrative tasks. 

Chat GPT is a famous example of generative AI. Fun fact, GPT stands for generative pretrained transformer.  

Generative AI in recruiting 

In the world of HR and recruiting, AI is already being used for various tasks like scanning resumes and analysing candidate sentiments. 

This month, discussions have centred on how generative AI, in particular, can be used in the recruiting function. 

Large recruiters like ManpowerGroup, Adecco and Robert Walters are using generative AI to streamline processes and increase applications by reaching out to a wider pool of candidates. 

Strategies include using generative AI to help with

  • Handling candidate queries 
  • Reaching out to passive candidates through networks like LinkedIn 
  • Creating language-neutral job ads 
  • Compiling candidate shortlists
  • Matching candidate skills to open job roles 

Recruiters are also investing in tools to help candidates. For example, Adecco is investing in a “CV maker”. A tool that will use verbal instruction to create professional candidate resumes. 

The generative AI platforms available to recruiters 

Forbes recently published two articles (here and here) discussing companies dealing in generative AI for recruitment. 

Companies offering, or soon-to-be offering generative AI technology for recruiters include: 

  • LinkedIn: The company will be launching 2024 Recruiter Release, a product that will help talent acquisition professionals find candidates using simple prompts. For example, recruiters can type,  “I’m searching for a software engineer with 10 years of experience,” and find a suite of candidates matching this description.  
  • Phenom: An HR technology platform providing personalised hiring experience with an AI-driven chatbot. 
  • iCIMS: The enterprise has developed a tool called iCIMS Copilot that can help with writing job descriptions, creating interview questions and answering candidate questions through a digital assistant. 
  • Wellfound: A large platform catering to startups has launched an AI-powered sourcing feature to match job seekers with job openings. 

The above is only a shortlist. Companies around the world are looking at how generative AI can help recruiters save time on tasks so they have more time to actually connect with candidates. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Is the Great Gloom upon us

Trend 2: Is the Great Gloom upon us? Employee engagement at an all-time low  

The last few years have featured many ‘Great’ moments in HR and recruiting. We’ve seen The Great Resignation, The Great RegretThe Great Realignment and now, The Great Gloom. 

The Great Gloom refers to dipping rates in employee engagement. Survey results released this year from companies like Gallup, Gartner and Bamboo HR have revealed changes in employee engagement levels. As a result, experts are discussing how we can deal with dipping engagement and higher rates of quiet quitting. 

Here’s a recap of the statistics generating the most discussion: 

  • Bamboo HR research reveals employee engagement in 2023 has dropped by 9%, declining at a rate 10x faster than the previous three years.
  • Gartner research shows 70% of employees don’t feel as engaged as they should be and aren’t feeling a meaningful connection to their job. 
  • Gallup found that 59% of employees are not engaged and fall into quiet quitting territory.  

Each survey features its own unique statistics but the general trend is clear, employee engagement rates are falling. But, the good news is there’s plenty HR leaders can do to help buck this trend.  

Tips for improving employee engagement 

Disengaged teams cost the global economy $8.8 trillion. Remedying falling employee engagement is great for an organisation’s culture and bottom line. Here are 3 tips for improving engagement. 

1. Act on employee feedback 

According to experts at HRD, leaders should take note of Gartner survey results that show 46% of employees wish their organisation would do more to address feedback.

If employers fail to engage with feedback after employees spend time sharing, this can lower morale and engagement. 

To better act on feedback, start by asking questions you intend to act on. Create a plan around how you will communicate and act on survey results. Ideally, you will keep employees in the loop from the moment their feedback is delivered to you.  

2. Re-engage workers with a sense of purpose 

Writing for Fast Company, Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness, says workers aren’t feeling a sense of purpose in their work. They are unable to see the alignment between their values or connections to what matters most. 

To improve engagement, help workers re-engage with your company's purpose and their own personal motivators. Ideas to achieve this include, coaching sessions with managers and outside experts and encouraging employees to engage with growth opportunities like reskilling courses. 

3. Make recognition easier 

According to commentators at Spiceworks, 77% of employees want to be recognised by their colleagues. 

A fast way to achieve this is to add reward systems to platforms you already use like Slack and Microsoft Teams. 

For example, Vantage Rewards is an app that can be integrated into Slack or Teams

The platform allows employees to celebrate each other’s achievements and provide monetary and non-monetary recognition. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Hybrid work the right balance for employees and employers

Trend 3: Hybrid work: does it hit the right balance for employees and employers? 

Last month, discussions about returning to the office were in full swing. 

Leaders across the world expressed a preference for seeing employees onsite but data made it clear most employees didn’t want to return to the office full-time. 

This month, the conversation continues. Research reveals employees don’t feel they are being included in back-to-work discussions. According to an Eagle Hill survey, 70% of employees have not been asked for their input when it comes to their remote and hybrid work preferences. 

The gap between employer and employee preferences is evident and experts are discussing whether hybrid work hits the right balance. 

Research by academic Steven Davis and coauthors revealed most employees like working from home two to three days per week. Employees feel a hybrid schedule boosts productivity and allows for better work-life balance. 

On the flip side, leaders point to falling productivity rates and lack of engagement in communication platforms to explain why returning to the office might be a good idea. 

Commentators point out that not all companies are thriving with asynchronous work. 

As we mentioned last month, there is no right or wrong when it comes to working styles. 

Every organisation must make its own decisions and determine how to balance business goals with employee well-being

Tips for improving asynchronous work 

Here are 5 tips for improving asynchronous work for organisations seeking improvements in this area. 

  1. Ensure employees are involved in at least one digital space to collaborate. 
  2. Create working guidelines that dictate expected availabilities and response times.
  3. Make cross-collaboration easy and create official cross-organisational communities to support key business goals. 
  4. Provide training for using online collaboration tools and test employees on their knowledge to encourage continuous learning.  
  5. Teach online leadership behaviours and celebrate employees who display these traits.  

There’s no secret formula to finding the right work-life balance in your organisation. 

Conversations about the future of work will likely continue well into 2024 as organisations begin to settle into our new world at work. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Skills-based hiring back in the spotlight

Trend 4: Skills-based hiring back in the spotlight 

Skills-based hiring is not a new concept but it’s certainly in the spotlight right now. 

Skills-based hiring refers to hiring based on a candidate's skills rather than their educational qualifications.

A candidate’s skillset includes soft and hard skills. Soft skills are personal attributes that help people interact with one another and perform in the workplace. They include empathy, active listening, resilience and self-awareness.

Hard skills refer to technical knowledge a candidate has built up regardless of their educational qualifications. For example, a computer engineer who is self-taught.  

A focus on skills-based hiring can: 

  • Reduce barriers to entry in the workplace as more candidates are considered for a role 
  • Improve company culture as more people have better interpersonal skills 
  • Allow employers to remain competitive as they tap into wider talent pools 
  • Create more diversity in the workplace 
Soft skills in the technology industry   

According to LinkedIn, soft skills are particularly important for employees in highly technical fields. Research shows technology workers with soft skills get promoted 14% faster than those who have only developed hard skills. 

Experts at Forbes agree that soft skills will become more important than ever in a field where AI tools are automating routine work. 

In an article for Security Management, top Chief Security Officers have listed soft skills as essential to their day-to-day role. 

“The most important soft skills I’ve found over my career specifically for building and leading teams are emotional intelligence, active listening, and empathy,”  says Anders Noyes, Head of Security and Safety at the Honolulu Museum of Art. 

“These are all very emotion-based skills that take a commitment on the part of the leader to put their own ego and biases aside to address the needs of the team and thereby serve the team and the organisation.” 

LinkedIn has released a roundup of free soft skills courses employees can take advantage of to improve their personal strengths. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Holiday gift ideas for employees

Trend 5:  Holiday gift ideas for employees

The silly season is almost upon us! It’s the perfect time to start planning (if you haven’t already) how you will make employees feel appreciated for their hard work in 2023. 

There’s an art to gift-giving in a work setting. 

HR Future advises setting a reasonable budget and understanding boundaries. Gifts that are too extravagant can make employees feel uncomfortable especially if not everyone receives the same gift. Similarly, depending on company culture, gifts that are too personal may feel out of place in an environment that’s usually highly professional. 

HR Daily Advisor suggests asking employees about what they’d prefer through a survey or one-on-one during meetings. By giving employees a say in the reward selection process, you are demonstrating respect for their personal contributions and preferences. 

Another option is to give gifts that provide employees with choices like eGift cards that allow purchases from different vendors. 

Gift ideas 

If you prefer the idea of giving employees a physical gift here are 10 ideas pulled from curated lists by Swag Drop and Huuray

  1. Laptop sleeves 
  2. Wellness products 
  3. Charity donations 
  4. Keyboard charging mats 
  5. Headphones 
  6. Cordless mini desk vacuums 
  7. Chocolate gift boxes 
  8. Personalised ceramic mugs 
  9. Reusable coffee cups 
  10.  Power banks for mobile devices  

Appreciation, recognition and retention are interlinked. Even if you have a tight budget this season it’s worth finding ways to show your staff you appreciate their hard work this year. In some cases, a handwritten note of thanks might just do the trick.  

Final thoughts 

As the year winds down it’s clear the impact of the pandemic is still being felt in the workplace. 

Employee engagement rates are dipping as conversations around the future of work continue. 

But, innovation abounds. HR leaders are discussing ways to re-engage employees and find the sweet spot with work-life balance. 

Recruiters are looking at solutions like generative AI to help get work done faster and access more talent, as well as  placing more emphasis on skills over educational qualifications. 

As we near the end of the year, it’s a great time to decide how to show your staff you appreciate their efforts and to set the right tone for a strong 2024.

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