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Key HR and Recruitment Trends for July 2023

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Talent shortages and inflation are placing organisations across industries and countries under pressure. It’s no surprise, then, that four out of five HR and recruiting trends this month focus on hiring and retaining employees. 

There have been discussions in the human resource (HR) community around tapping into different talent markets, extending onboarding programs and making changes to help boost financial wellness. Recruiters desperate to hire candidates have also come into the spotlight for potentially “love bombing” candidates (e.g. excessively flattering candidates to prompt them to take a job). 

Another hot topic is environmental and social governance (ESG). With climate issues remaining firmly on social and political agendas worldwide, experts are recommending ESG principles become integrated into C-suite decision-making processes. In order to continue to attract talent and thrive in the current landscape, organisations must prioritise a sustainable future.

Keep reading to learn more about the five trending topics in the HR and talent acquisition space this month.

Xref branded green graphic with text "Improving financial wellbeing" on it

Trend 1: Improving financial wellbeing 

Last month, employee wellness was a trending topic. This month, financial wellbeing is top of mind for business leaders as data shows more employees are experiencing financial stress. 

Financial wellness, or wellbeing, refers to a person being able to meet their financial obligations, be financially prepared for unexpected events and be able to save for future goals. It’s about feeling in control of your money and having the freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy your life. 

If your employees are not earning enough to save for the future, potential serious illness and generally feel as though they are living to work, not working to live, chances are they are not considered to be experiencing financial wellness/wellbeing.

With no end to the skills shortage, if your employees are experiencing financial difficultiesd, this can put your organisation at a disadvantage as employees seek other opportunities.

A Gartner HR survey found financial wellness is at an all-time low for Australian employees, declining for the second consecutive quarter from 28% to 24.4%. But it’s a global phenomenon.

Aaron McEwan, Vice President of the Gartner HR practice said, “With rising inflation showing no signs of slowing, many Australians are facing serious financial hardship, which is not only incredibly distressing personally, but significantly impacts their work life too.” 

As a result, active job search behaviour has increased as workers look to prioritise their budgeting needs. 

In addition, research by Mercer reveals 56% of employees are concerned about an economic downturn. 

Prioritising financial wellness 

Human Resources Director Magazine (HRD) notes that in this tough economic environment, employers can’t always solve financial issues by offering pay raises. But there are still ways to help support employee financial wellbeing. 

Sandra Matz, Associate Professor of Business at Columbia Business School says, “Having to worry about your finances hijacks mental bandwidth, which would be much better spent elsewhere, inside or outside of the workplace.” source

Employers may feel helpless to address such concerns, particularly when businesses are feeling the pinch too, however extending supportive employee programs such as financial planning services or apps, along with expanding remote work options–helping employees save on commuting costs–will assist in reducing attrition, meaning cost savings when it comes to hiring.

Adding such programs to employee benefits can go a long way toward making employees feel more secure and reinforce a feeling that your organisation genuinely cares about their wellbeing.

Xref branded green graphic with text "Retirees, an untapped resource" on it

Trend 2: Retirees, an untapped resource

Talent shortages are impacting industries around the world. In Australia, 90% of businesses face hiring challenges. Globally, 77% of employers have reported difficulty in filling roles. 

As a result, organisations are looking to different talent markets to fill the gaps, including the retiree market. 

According to research by Robert Half, 58% of Australian employers have hired a retiree in the past 12 months.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 40,600 more workers aged 65 and over were employed in February than in the same month the previous year. Retirees are largely seeking to return to work to increase their income and keep up with the rising cost of living. 

Meanwhile, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the top industries where seniors are most in-demand. These include healthcare, professional and business services, wholesale and retail trade, education and manufacturing. 

According to Robert Half, employers are most commonly hiring retirees because they:

  • Have specialised expertise (60%)
  • Can contribute quickly (57%)
  • Have strong business acumen and knowledge of key business issues (51%)
  • Can mentor less experienced colleagues (49%)

There are four key benefits retired employees can bring organisations:

1. Commercial acumen: Senior employees bring professional skills honed over various industries, cultures, financial conditions and teams.

2. Technical expertise: Retired employees can apply an understanding of what has worked – or failed – in the past to optimise processes and procedures. 

3. Adaptability: Older workers have embraced more technological and procedural advances than any other demographic in the workforce today.

4. Diverse perspectives: The perspective of retired employees is a valuable asset when it comes to strategy, planning, and problem-solving processes.

Xref branded green graphic with text "Moving to 100-day remote onboarding" on it

Trend 3: Moving to 100-day remote onboarding 

How long is your onboarding process? A strong onboarding process leads to higher employee retention and better job satisfaction. 

Spiceworks reports organisations are extending onboarding to a 100-day program (an employee’s first three months). 

This was also a significant topic of discussion at a recent Xref Roundtable event where HR and recruiting experts discussed the importance of onboarding and offboarding and listed four strategies for creating strong onboarding programs

It’s important to note ineffective onboarding can lead to premature departures. An employee’s first few months are a critical time and a longer onboarding program helps mitigate the risks of preventable resignations. 

A 100-day onboarding can help  new hiresby providing information in more digestible chunks and creating a system of ongoing support over months and not days or weeks. 

Tips for creating a remote 100-day onboarding plan 

With most roles today offering remote or hybrid work options, many onboarding processes are fully remote. Spiceworks offers two key tips for creating a strong 100-day remote onboarding plan. 

1. Leverage technology and automation 

A long onboarding process leaves room for error. It’s easy to forget check-ins or crucial steps as time passes. By automating as much of the process as possible, HR teams can ensure an onboarding process runs as smoothly as possible. For example, you can use technology to pre-schedule reminders and check-ins.

When it comes to helping employees adjust to remote and hybrid work, it’s a good idea to integrate an employee’s job into company software as much as possible.

There are a few ways HR teams can achieve this: 

  • Pre-load onboarding tasks and responsibilities into your company’s work management software. 
  • Automate check-ins at different stages of an employee’s onboarding journey. 
  • Utilise time management tools so employees are aware of how long tasks should take. 
  • Create transparent dashboards showing everyone’s projects and workloads so new starters can understand their team’s priorities and how their own work fits in. 

2. Prioritise integrating company culture 

Creating and maintaining a remote company culture can be challenging. It’s especially difficult to convey key values and habits to new starters who are often alone in their home offices. 

Spiceworks suggests using gamification strategies during onboarding to instil company culture and create a sense of fun! Employees can aim for milestones to receive points in exchange for real-life rewards. 

Goal-setting sessions are also a great strategy to use. You can input the outcome of these sessions into your work management platform and make milestones actionable and achievable. 

Managers and team members should also make time for new hires to socialise with their coworkers online. 

Xref branded green graphic with text "Love bombing candidates" on it

Trend 4: Love bombing candidates

Love bombing, a term popular in the dating world, has started to become associated with certain hiring practices. 

Love bombing refers to a set of over-the-top behaviours that include excessive flattery and praise, grand gestures like gift giving and intense promises and discussions about the future.  

In a BBC article, Leah Carroll discusses an experience where she was love bombed by a recruiter and received a job offer before expressing any interest in the position available. In a tight labour market, recruiters are more likely to heap praise on candidates and falsely misrepresent jobs and company cultures to try and rush decision-making. 

Candidates are being advised to watch out for love bombing as it can set them up for failure in the workplace. Candidates being love bombed are at risk of accepting low-ball job offers and/or entering roles that aren’t the right fit long-term. 

According to Forbes, love bombing creates unrealistic expectations and leads to disappointment when the employer fails to deliver on their promises. It can also lead to a culture of fear and intimidation as employees may fear leaving a company because they feel indebted to employers guilty of love bombing.

In a tight talent market, it’s understandable recruiters have an instinct to pursue and nurture top talent, but this doesn’t need to cross a line into unrealistic territory. For instance, before and after candidates are hired, feedback should be genuine and balanced. Overwhelmingly positive and unrealistic feedback should be avoided. 

Xref branded green graphic with text "Integrating ESG principles into C-suite decision making" on it

Trend 5: Integrating ESG principles into C-suite decision-making 

Late last year we wrote about the rising demand for ‘green talent’. A number of roles now exist for people with the knowledge and skills to create a sustainable future. 

This month, environmental issues have become a trending topic once again. The conversation has shifted to how HR executives can promote green practices and ESG principles can be integrated into wider C-suite decision-making

At the core of both discussions is the idea that sustainability requires a top-down effort. Leaders must incorporate sustainable practices into their strategies. 

For executive recruiters and HR managers, the importance of ESG to employees means rethinking various HR functions. 

Here are some ideas from experts at HR Tech Cube on how you can create sustainable practices across the recruiting lifecycle:

  • Recruitment. Integrate sustainability criteria into job descriptions, attracting candidates with a shared environmental commitment.
  • Onboarding. Provide eco-friendly welcome kits and materials, emphasising your company’s sustainability goals.
  • Employee Engagement. Organise sustainability-focused events, workshops, and training sessions to educate and engage employees in green practices.
  • Performance Management. Incorporate sustainability metrics into employee performance evaluations, rewarding and recognising those who actively contribute to green initiatives.

When it comes to the wider C-suite, ESG principles should be integrated into decision-making. Tips to achieve this include: 

  1. Build ESG awareness and knowledge within your Executive team 
  2. Establish clear ESG goals and metrics 
  3. Embed ESG considerations into strategic planning processes
  4. Encourage cross-functional collaboration on ESG initiatives
  5. Align Executive compensation with ESG performance

The last point is perhaps the most powerful. By linking compensation packages to specific goals and metrics, leaders are motivated to prioritise sustainable decision-making and take accountability for their impact. It’s a concept for teams to consider when planning a sustainable future. Read more at HR Tech Cube

Final thoughts 

It’s a challenging landscape for recruiters and HR teams due to talent shortages and economic issues like inflation, but with empathy and creative thinking, new employees can be brought on board and have financial wellness prioritised.

Strategies like hiring from retired talent pools, offering financial planning advice and extending remote work options can go a long way in filling talent gaps and helping employees manage financial burdens. Recruiters should aim to represent jobs truthfully and avoid the urge to heap flattery and praise on top talent in attempts to secure new employees. 

When it comes to ESG concerns, HR and business leaders can encourage sustainability by incorporating it into wider business practices. HR and recruiting teams can rethink their candidate lifecycle with sustainability front of mind, and the wider C-suite can boost their own awareness of ESG and incorporate concerns into strategic planning processes.

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