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5 Trending HR and Recruitment Topics in May 2024

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This month, trending HR topics have been shaped by the global observance of International HR Day and Mental Health Awareness Week. Experts discussed the role of HR in shaping the future of work and the importance of managing burnout within HR teams. 

Discussions are growing around the relevance of job titles, and pay transparency is becoming increasingly important as new legislation becomes active. 

Hiring Generation Z is also a trending topic with recruiters discussing challenges and best practice hiring tips. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Happy International HR Day 

Trend 1: Happy International HR Day 

International HR Day, launched in 2019, was held on May 20, 2024, to recognise the importance of HR in the workplace and emphasise the value HR teams bring. 

This year’s overall theme is, HR Shaping the New Future. Topics falling under this theme are:

  • Ethical use of technology and AI
  • Future workplaces
  • People leadership
  • Continued innovation in skills and education

The above topics are a nod to HR teams working hard to craft a future of work that takes rapid tech advancement and changing employee needs into consideration.

HR outlets around the world celebrate 

International HR Day caused discussions to take place about the history and role of HR in the workplace and the careers people in HR have achieved to date. 

Here are some of the articles that stood out. 

HR Times in the Middle East explored 2024’s theme and highlighted the growing need for HR professionals to be at the forefront of the ethical use of AI in areas like recruitment, performance management, and employee wellbeing.

Human Resources Online created a special feature celebrating the career beginnings of HR leaders across Asia. Stories reveal people from different backgrounds becoming interested in making a difference in the workplace. 

People Matters India embraced the 2024 theme by analysing how top Indian companies are preparing their teams for the age of AI. Top initiatives include: building AI literacy, developing AI skills and investing in AI-powered learning platforms. 

HRM asked HR leaders from Australia, New Zealand and Canada to discuss their biggest challenges and plans to navigate them. Building culturally inclusive workplaces, creating innovative ways to approach employee wellbeing and navigating flexible work were key themes discussed. 

As HR teams worldwide continue to champion ethics, innovation, and leadership, International HR Day stands as a testament to their dedication to shaping a future where people can thrive at work. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Tips for hiring Generation Z

Trend 2: Tips for hiring Generation Z 

Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z is making an impact in the workplace. Nicknamed, Zoomers, Generation Z is tech-savvy, resilient and values-driven.  

While hiring Zoomers, especially given the growing need for AI skills, brings many benefits, some employers have experienced challenges recruiting and retaining candidates in this generation.  

Zoomers experienced a different introduction to the workplace compared to other generations. 

Many Zoomers began work during the pandemic and missed critical on-the-ground learning opportunities. The growing cost of living and the rise of AI are also factors shaping this generation’s expectations in the workplace. 

Organisations are still figuring out what motivates Gen Z. Research by Deloitte shows that salary is the most important factor for Gen Z but, compared to other generations, they value salary less. For example, a candidate may consider less pay for more interesting work. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion are also important values that Zoomers want to see in the workplace. A blog published on Xref shows that Gen Z job seekers will actively seek organisations encouraging employees to express themselves freely. 

Tips for hiring Gen Z 

According to LinkedIn's recent Future of Recruiting 2024 report, successfully attracting and retaining Gen Z talent is the second most pressing concern for recruiters over the next five years.

Here are some tips that can help you hire Gen Z

1. Highlight your company values 

Let candidates know what your company stands for. Many Zoomers are mission-driven and want to work with organisations that align with their values. 

2. Provide realistic job previews 

Zoomers know what they want from work. By providing a clear and honest job outline candidates can decide early if they’re a good fit, saving time for everyone involved. 

3. Use social media to attract candidates 

Use social media to showcase your company's mission, values, and culture. With Gen Z spending much time online, this boosts brand awareness and attracts talent. Social media influencers, including internal ones, can also drive interest in your open roles.

4. Make the application process quick and easy 

Gen Z prefers quick, tech-friendly processes. Streamline your hiring process to boost applications from this generation. Consider using text messages as a communication tool as it’s a format Gen Z is comfortable with.

5. Provide benefits that resonate 

Provide benefits that appeal to Gen Z who are known to value flexible work and wellness services.  According to a 2023 study by Securian Financial, 65% of Gen Z workers say it’s “very important” for their employers to provide mental wellness benefits.

Xref branded green graphic with text that says job titles vs no job titles

Trend 3: Job titles vs no job titles? 

Are job titles outdated? A debate is occurring in recruiting and HR circles around this very topic. 

The benefits of job titles 

Those in favour of job titles point to their ability to provide role clarity, signal long term career prospects and reflect company culture. 

Job titles also have practical benefits like boosting search engine optimisation and attracting attention with fewer words. Sharing a vacancy on social media without a compelling job title might fail to attract appropriate attention. 

Why job titles may be limiting 

Those questioning the validity of job titles point to a habit of individuals and companies to inflate titles. Research by Robert Walter’s Singapore revealed more employers were inflating job titles in 2023 with a 24% increase in positions with titles such as "Manager" and "Director". 

Inflated titles may not accurately reflect what an employee does day-to-day. Some organisations are rejecting job titles and focusing on building an environment where employees are recognised for their skills, capabilities, and experiences. Gore-Tex, Patagonia, and Zappos are examples of high profile companies joining the ‘no job titles’ movement. 

However, it’s worth noting, these companies are presently in the minority. According to Fuel50 research, 64% of HR leaders have no intention of removing job titles any time soon.

Balancing expectations and reality 

The team at CFO Recruit concludes job titles do matter, to an extent. Job titles can shape perceptions, facilitate communication, and impact morale and career prospects. But they are also labels that can be open to interpretation. 

What truly matters is the substance behind a job title—the value people bring to their roles, the relationships they nurture, and the impact they make on their organisations and communities. A job title often fails to capture the full scope of an individual's contributions, skills, and potential. 

Recruiters are encouraged to look beyond job titles when making hiring decisions emphasising referee feedback, hard and soft skill analysis and experience. When creating job descriptions, recruiters are encouraged to use bias-free titles and descriptions that will attract a range of candidates and open the door to more inclusive workplaces.  

Xref branded green graphic with text that says The pay transparency era approaches

Trend 4: The pay transparency era approaches 

Multinational employers are navigating pay transparency laws now in effect in countries like Australia, the US, Europe, Brazil and Japan.

Legislation varies, with countries including Chile, the Netherlands, and the UK requiring employers to publish regular reports detailing gender-based pay differences at their organisations.

The European Union's (EU) pay transparency directive, adopted by the EU Council last year, is an important legislation that will impact European and multinational employers. 

The directive requires employers to share starting salaries or pay ranges for open positions, at minimum. Businesses will also be prohibited from asking candidates about their salary history. 

Pay transparency is a leading tool for narrowing the gender pay gap and assist job seekers navigating uncertain economic environments. The 2023 Future Workforce Study found that 85% of upcoming and recent grads say they’re less likely to apply for a job if the company does not disclose the salary range in the job posting.

Implementing pay transparency  

Understandably, some companies are wary of pay transparency as it always doesn’t provide the whole picture. CEO magazine provides the example of a top performer who generates 40% more value and is thus paid more. With these details public, it may act as a demotivator to their colleague who puts in maximum effort but doesn’t achieve the same results. 

On the plus side, pay transparency, whether legally mandated or not, can help build trust within a company. 

Regardless of the motivation, approaching pay transparency in the workplace requires strong guidance from HR and leadership teams. 

Organisations can prepare for pay transparency by understanding if there are changes to legislation in their country and: 

  • Getting clear on frameworks for defining different roles and seniority levels 
  • Outlining how different roles compare in terms of pay and why 
  • Understanding gender pay gaps and working to address them 
  • Creating clear career progression plans for employees 
  • Keeping an eye on changing compliance requirements 

Overall, even if your organisation is not impacted by upcoming laws, assessing your preparedness for pay transparency will help you adapt to any future changes that may occur. 

Xref branded green graphic with text that says Preventing HR burnout

Trend 5: Preventing burnout within HR teams 

Mental Health Awareness Week took place from May 13 to May 19  in countries worldwide. This year's key discussion in HR circles centred around preventing burnout within HR departments

Burnout can arise from sacrificing work-life balance, changes in workload or expectations, or self-imposed pressure. Perfectionism and job dissatisfaction can also contribute to burnout.

According to a 2023 Gartner research, 83% of HR leaders say they are doing more now than three years ago. 71% say burnout among HR staff is more challenging than pre-pandemic. 

Wellness for HR teams starts with recognising the signs of burnout. 

Signs of HR burnout 

Signs of HR burnout include general symptoms like elevated stress, fatigue and lack of concentration. 

Specifically, HR teams may also experience: 

  • Secondary stress: Constantly being exposed to employee issues and anxieties may elevate stress and cause a feeling of emotional exhaustion. 
  • Feeling undervalued and misunderstood: If organisations don’t express value for HR teams it can impact the way employees feel at work.  
  • Pressure from a high workload: If an HR department has limited resources this can put a strain on employees. 
  • Difficulty facing tough conversations: HR teams deal with performance issues, terminations and disputes which can be emotionally taxing.  

HR teams are often entrusted with championing organisational culture and employee wellness but mustn’t forget their own needs in the process. 

Tips for preventing burnout among HR teams 

A key way HR teams can prevent burnout is by following the guidelines they set for others. 

For example, just as HR teams advise employees in their wider organisations to create healthy work boundaries, they can do the same. Better work boundaries include emailing only during office hours and prioritising self-care like exercise and proper lunch breaks. 

HR leaders can also help themselves and their teams by: 

  • Opening conversations about mental health and wellness: Ensure HR teams discuss health and wellness just as openly as they do with the wider company.
  • Addressing high workloads or cultural challenges: Ensure your team is well-supported to positively address broader organisational issues, promoting changes that reduce stress.
  • Ensuring frequent check-ins: Regularly connect with yourself and your team to gauge feelings and identify opportunities for positive growth.
  • Promoting the use of  Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): While your team may have advocated for an EAP in your organisation, it's important to ensure they are also utilising it for their own wellbeing.
  • Improving technology stacks: A range of technologies exists to help your teams work smarter, not harder, including applicant tracking systems, scheduling software, digital reference checking platforms, engagement surveys and background checks.

Creating healthier workplaces is an ongoing process. HR leaders can lead by prioritising their own wellness and that of their teams, setting an example for their broader organisation.

Final thoughts 

The future of work is a standout theme this month. There are ongoing discussions about the role HR teams play in preparing organisations for technological and socio-cultural changes. The increasing responsibility placed on HR teams to stay ahead of the curve has also raised concerns about burnout within the profession. 

Further, as the world at work changes, people are wondering whether job titles are as relevant as they once were. While it stands that job titles have important uses, it is clear that they should be bias-free and not solely relied upon to understand an employee’s role within a company. Indeed, when it comes to hiring Generation Z, job titles do not matter as much as compensation, work culture and strong organisational values. 

Finally, pay transparency legislation is changing the way companies disclose and discuss pay in their organisation. Pay transparency will become more common, a move that may have a positive effect on the gender pay gap and will ultimately change how we approach pay discussions in the future.

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