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The beginning of 2023 sees trending HR topics that will likely continue throughout the year. With uncertainty around many global economies, employers are looking for ways to attract, retain and reward employees while increasing efficiency. Candidates are also looking for ways to reframe gaps in their resumes.
Read on to discover more about the top five HR and recruitment trends of January 2023.
A recent article by Business Insider has revealed that Generation Z workers (people born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s) are more likely to have taken a lengthy break from work than other demographics. They were also less concerned about covering up this fact.
As a group, Gen Z's attitude towards work differs from previous generations. Gen Z is more concerned about mental health, happiness and work-life balance. 50% of Gen Z would rather be unemployed than unhappy at work.
According to research performed by hiring company Applied, around 47% of UK-based Gen Z employees, the oldest of whom was 25, had taken a break of six months or more from work, compared to 33% of UK workers as a whole.
Employers' perception of resume gaps has been negative for a long while. This perspective is despite the increasing number of people taking extended breaks from work. Research by The 2019 Diversity and Inclusion report by recruitment firm Hays showed that 64% of female and 29% of male workers in Australia and New Zealand had taken a career break.
Even so, there is still a school of thought that gaps should be covered. Techniques traditionally used to cover career gaps include choosing a resume style that makes gaps less obvious. Candidates have also been recommended to fill blanks with limited-term contracting or consulting work.
Some primary drivers of extended breaks are maternity leave and mental or physical health reasons. It’s time that resume gaps were seen in a new light. The pandemic appears to have positively impacted how employers see resume gaps. This view of resume gaps is likely due to the number of people who lost jobs during lockdowns or had to take time off due to stress or mental health issues.
Around 2.7 million people lost their jobs due to the pandemic in Australia. The global impact of Covid-19 on the jobs market is estimated to be a loss of more than 144 million jobs. A similar number of people re-entering the workforce with a gap in their resumes is expected.
Employers may now expect that candidates may have a gap in their resumes and have adjusted accordingly. LinkedIn data from 2021 supports this hypothesis. Around 79% of hiring managers indicate they would hire someone with a gap on their resume.
Rather than candidates trying to cover up gaps in their resumes, there is a trend towards embracing them. Breaks from work can be periods of personal development and well-being. Breaks can be a time to gain perspective on personal and career goals for when people return to work.
So what can HR professionals do to help rethink resume gaps?
Focus on experience - Rather than looking at the gaps from work, concentrate on the experience shown instead. Overall job or career experience shows if the candidate has progressed in positions and their responsibilities.
Check skills - Are the skills on the resume those that are required for the position? Does the candidate have skills that did not feature in their previous positions? This could indicate that a resume gap was used to upskill for a new position or career path. Does a gap in their resume matter if a candidate has the skill required for the job?
Ask questions - Hiring managers can encourage them to describe their time away from work. Doing so gives candidates a chance to explain the skills or perspectives they learned during that time.
By 2025, Gen Z will comprise an estimated 27% of the workforce. Gen Z is more likely to take breaks from work than previous generations. Hiring managers must rethink responses to resume gaps if they wish to attract young talent.
Most of the time, we only hear of the negative impacts of the pandemic. In some specific cases, there have been some benefits. According to a survey by The Harris Poll, 67% of deskless blue-collar workers felt more respected and valued after the pandemic. Despite this new respect, many industries still face the prospect of losing a significant portion of their employees. Industries facing the greatest risk include hospitality, healthcare, transportation and retail.
The phenomenon of deskless employees leaving an organisation within a few months of being hired has been dubbed “quick quitting”. The post-pandemic demand for deskless workers in a number of industries means that opportunities are plentiful for workers. If an employee isn’t happy with their job, blue-collar workers appear to be happy to leave to find another.
Remuneration may seem like an obvious reason for employees leaving a position. Money doesn’t appear to be the key motivator of quick quitting. Pay will always be a factor in employment decisions; a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study shows a number of other factors play an important role in quick quitting.
The study indicated that the primary drivers of employee attrition were emotional rather than financial. The research highlighted many factors of critical importance to deskless workers. Key factors include fair treatment, respect, meaningful work, enjoying work, being valued, employer reputation, and a good relationship with management.
Gen Z deskless workers are most likely to be looking for a change of jobs. The BCG study indicated that around 63% of Gen Z workers felt burnt out at work, and 55% were actively or passively looking for new opportunities.
So what can HR do to combat quick quitting?
The BCG identified a few key areas employers need to focus on to counteract quick quitting:
Identify what workers want - Employers must communicate with workers to discover what they want from their jobs. Using pulse surveys, focus groups and individual or group conversations between managers and workers can give employers valuable insights into the wants and needs of their deskless workforce.
Invest in employee experience - The employee experience is holistic, so approaches to improving employee workplace experience must also be wide-reaching. Recommended areas for investment include:
Develop managers - According to the BCG study, deskless workers dissatisfied with their manager are twice as likely to seek work elsewhere than employees with a good managerial relationship. Investing in developing great managers can significantly improve the employee experience and increase retention.
Deskless workers may feel more respected post-pandemic, but some industries still face losing staff to other opportunities. Employers need to learn the wants and needs of their team to discover how to improve the employee experience.
In August 2022, quiet quitting was brought to the attention of the HR world. In 2023, a new “quiet” practice has come to the fore. Quiet hiring is essentially the exact opposite of quiet quitting. Quiet quitting saw employees doing the bare minimum to complete their tasks. Quiet hiring sees employers identifying those employees that go above and beyond.
The #1 HR trend for 2023 by Gartner is quiet hiring. At its core, quiet hiring is a technique an organisation can use to overcome talent shortages without a change in headcount. Focusing on internal recruiting and internal talent mobility allows employers to meet their needs without hiring new permanent personnel.
While quiet hiring could mean employing short-term contractors to fill gaps, the trend is typically identifying employees who could transition to an open position within the company. Quiet hiring can also refer to temporarily reassigning employees to another position or giving additional responsibilities to address an immediate need.
An example of quiet hiring may be as simple as temporarily reassigning administration staff to a customer-facing role. Organisations may do this to meet a sudden influx of enquiries or address a technical problem.
An extreme example of quiet hiring could be staff being assigned custodial duties due to a lack of available cleaning staff.
Not all quiet hiring will be as dramatic as white-collar employees taking on cleaning duties. A far more likely use will be identifying employees voluntarily shouldering the responsibilities of a vacant position to fill that position. Another use is finding employees with skills that can be applied to other business areas as needed.
There are some potential problems with quiet hiring. Employees temporarily reassigned to another position may feel their current position has little value if another employee doesn’t backfill those responsibilities. Employees may feel exploited or overburdened if extra responsibilities aren’t adequately rewarded.
There are a number of ways organisations can take advantage of quiet hiring while mitigating tensions that may arise. If temporarily reassigning an employee to another position, managers need to articulate clearly the importance of the position or project to overall business goals. They should also state how the temporary move will aid in career progression or advancement in their permanent role
Identifying those employees willing to shoulder extra responsibilities and internally promoting them can foster a culture of internal mobility and aid employee retention. This will only happen if the rewards are adequate.
These rewards don’t solely have to be financial. If a new role with more responsibility can be shown to be a positive career progression, employees are more likely to embrace the role. If not, they may see themselves as a stopgap measure.
Quiet hiring has the potential to help organisations deliver on objectives without having to hire new talent. If improperly implemented, quiet hiring can also risk making employees feel undervalued or overburdened. Proper communication and adequate rewards for work performed are key to avoiding potential tensions.
According to HRDigest, one of the key changes to HR that organisations must embrace in 2023 is the automation of tasks. Burnout and the feeling of having too many responsibilities and too little time are rife among HR professionals. According to research by Lattice in 2021, 42% of HR teams struggle to meet all responsibilities in the available time.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a form of automation for time-consuming and repetitive tasks that can significantly reduce the workload of HR professionals. Automating some tasks allows HR professionals to concentrate on the aspects of their job that truly require a human touch.
You may be familiar with terms such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML). These two technologies have the potential to revolutionise HR processes by training computers to perform some tasks. One example is training chatbots to answer internal HR queries. Robotic Process Automation is a very different technology that may sound like it has to do with production line machines, but that isn’t the case.
Rather than being a mechanical construct like a production line robot, RPAs are software that emulates how a human interacts with a computer to perform repeatable tasks. Tasks regularly performed by RPAs include data entry, calculations, migrating data between applications and sorting data. Robotic Process Automation is not “intelligent” or trained like AI or ML, but rather highly specialised programs that follow instructions to perform repeatable tasks efficiently.
Robotic Process Automation has the potential to streamline and improve a wide range of repetitive tasks throughout the recruitment process, such as:
Sorting resumes - RPAs can be used to sort resumes against predetermined criteria. Automatically sorting resumes may be extremely useful for HR teams simultaneously hiring for multiple positions. Resumes can be siloed into separate positions, and any resume that does not meet the base requirements can be omitted.
Offer letters - Automated processes can create offer letters by collating information from various systems. The robot can scour systems such as legal requirements, payroll information, HR regulations, and position requirements and create offer letters. The robot can also send the offer and monitor returned forms to see if they have been correctly completed.
Efficient onboarding - Onboarding often requires having multiple departments or managers performing onboarding duties. Onboarding requires documentation, creating email addresses, assigning equipment, creating permissions for different apps or programs, and granting access to shared drives. Using an RPA, users can automate the onboarding workflow. By using predefined templates and rules, bots can assign access, gear, documentation and permissions.
Automating the onboarding process can help employees jump into work faster, as they no longer have to wait to receive permissions or the gear they need.
Some tasks HR professionals perform, such as interviewing candidates and conducting training and development, require a human touch. By automating repetitive tasks such as maintaining employee records or payroll processing, Robotic Process Automation can give HR professionals more time to concentrate on the human part of human resources.
Some key trends in 2021 and 2022 were the great resignation, quiet quitting and the great breakup. Our #2 January trend is quick quitting. As such, it’s little wonder that one of the trends in early 2023 is methods for retaining employees.
Recent research by Workhuman revealed that employee turnover had a global cost of $322 billion to businesses. The same study also pinpointed one of the most effective ways to retain staff and improve employee well-being - gratitude and recognition.
The research highlights the following effects of employee recognition:
Recognition of employees can start with something as simple as thanking them for their work. A considerable amount of research details the positive effects of giving and receiving gratitude. Benefits range from physical to emotional. Physical benefits include lower blood pressure and better sleep. Emotional effects include enhanced positive emotional states and improved relationships. Gratitude has an equally powerful impact on the workplace.
Research shows that frequent thanks in the workplace can lead to highly positive outcomes, including
While giving thanks to employees is easy, it’s still essential to have some guidelines for gratitude.
Xref has a culture of gratitude that runs through all levels and departments. We use multiple methods of showing gratitude, both public and personal. Examples include individual thanks for a job well done within a team and company-wide shoutouts on our internal messaging system. Employees who have genuinely excelled receive awards at either the End of Financial Year or Christmas party.
Saying thanks for a job well done is an easy way to integrate employee recognition into daily work activities and a proven method for improving employee retention and engagement.
With 2023 just beginning, the trends of January are a sneak peek at what is to come over the rest of the year. Embracing employee recognition and gratitude and rethinking how hiring managers view resume gaps can help counter quiet quitting and any tension that may arise from quiet hiring. Using RPAs for automation can help save HR professionals time to concentrate on implementing employee recognition practices.
For an overview of the dominant HR trends of 2022, check out the Top 10 HR trends of 2022.
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