Topics such as employee burnout, employee engagement, and the shift to a hybrid workplace have long been discussions among human resources teams. However, with such terms becoming increasingly common in news coverage and social media discourse, it is clear that these items are not only growing in importance within those teams, but that entire organizations are now taking notice. Small, midsize and large companies all need to have dependable HR professionals on hand to manage the many needs tied to both keeping staff engaged and productive, and adhering to regulatory requirements.
The evolution of technology and a constantly-changing work environment have led to several important changes in the world of HR in general, and HR hiring specifically. Taking a look at trends within the HR world can help point to developments in the world of work and how to best approach the future for success.
Let's take a deeper dive into key trends that currently influence this vital aspect of business operations.
HR professionals addressing critical concerns
The Challenges in HR Today
An HR professional reflecting back on two or three years ago might consider today's landscape unrecognizable. It's no secret that the pandemic changed the world of work, and the ripple effects of it – including the economic downturn and Great Resignation – continue to shift and change, translating to a high level of uncertainty.
The Great Resignation led to an explosion of available positions. Companies lost employees in droves, and they needed help from recruiters to fill those positions with new, quality candidates.
Today, potential candidates are demanding remote work in many cases, and current employees are facing disconnects with management. Employees are also focusing more on their well being and mental health - a phenomenon that can be attributed equally to internal and external factors. Undoubtedly, the trauma caused by COVID-19 stoked significant burnout - in addition to the physical toll, approximately 1 in 5 Americans received mental health treatment between 2020 and 2021. Externally, the proliferation of remote work and plentiful job openings made it far easier for employees to consider other options. This unprecedented mobility, combined with outward stress and suffering, had a considerable effect on employee engagement, which in turn, has an effect on the company.
And while predictions are all over the map, the potential of an impending recession further adds to these anxieties, on both the employer and employee side. Although some companies are giving raises to allow employees to keep up with the effects of inflation, in many cases those raises don't match cost-of-living increases.
These are all complications HR leaders have had to face. So what other HR trends are occurring as a result of addressing critical concerns in the department?
Compliance and Safety
HR staff have an exceptionally difficult job during an economic downturn. They're the ones who give staff members notice about layoffs and furloughs, and they must do so in a sensitive way that allows each and every employee to exit with dignity. At the same time, HR staff must address a variety of needs related to compliance, regulatory management, and the employee experience. They must deal with employees who are unsatisfied with work, their salary, changes within the company, or those facing challenges with fellow employees. Add in the need to support and spread awareness of safety protocols, and HR teams have an incredibly full plate.
A responsibility of the HR team that has been gaining traction, not just in the workplace but also legislatively, is salary transparency. Over the past two years, the state of Colorado, as well as the city of New York, have instituted laws requiring certain employers to post compensation information for every job opening they advertise. These moves are designed to close pay equity gaps, ensuring equal pay for equal work. However, in practice, these laws have come with somewhat substantial headaches for HR professionals, including how to treat remote workers, delineating worker classification, and how to differentiate between positions that may be similar in title, but in reality, engender wholly distinct functions.
Finding Candidates For The New Working World
Traditionally, HR hiring managers focused on finding a candidate with a skill set that strongly aligned with the open position in their department. Now, it's clear that a more holistic approach is needed. With the trend of remote work likely to remain permanent for many industries in some form, qualities such as the ability to work independently and how a candidate motivates themselves are more important than in the past. Management relies on HR staff to be dependable predictors of future success for candidates.
Companies are also beginning to offer more training opportunities in order to remedy the open jobs they have with candidates who may have been under-qualified compared to historical measures, but prove capable to adapt and learn tasks quickly. By offering education, training, and skill-building, they can hire for personality traits and working abilities, while still filling a potentially challenging or niche role.
Adjusting to a broader view of the candidate will be a significant change moving forward.
The Future of Workplaces
While remote work has been received positively by business leaders in a broad sense, there are still plenty of specifics that each company must determine for their own work-from-home strategy. For some businesses and industries, full remote work going forward may not be the best option if in-person collaboration is vital for success. And other organizations may choose to return to a partially or wholly in-office model.
To have success in this hybrid environment, HR staff will have to make a variety of adjustments to support employee engagement, output and well-being. One of the more challenging parts of this is balancing the needs of current employees while hiring new remote employees. Fairness goes a long way toward employees feeling valued, and if teams perceive differing expectations for in-office and remote workers, such an imbalance could have deleterious effects on morale and productivity.
Balancing the sometimes competing desires of staff and management — wanting to work from home frequently versus worries about maintaining productivity — and establishing a framework for qualifying for work-from-home privileges along with salary raises, are the key concerns.
Increased focus on DEI
While diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have long been part of organizational strategy, in recent years these initiatives have moved further to the forefront. For example, the Royal Bank of Canada found that instances of diversity policy discussions during earnings calls for S&P 500 companies rose from 6% to 40% between 2019 and 2020. Beacon Hill's own account executives have also noted a significant increase in discussions with our clients about this topic over the past few years, and a shift from viewing DEI as a beneficial program — something that's nice to have — to an imperative.
Open and honest discussion about DEI and acknowledgments that past efforts didn't work out particularly well or go far enough are indications of its increasing embrace by the business community, as are upward trends of more resources and larger teams devoted to DEI's strategic goals. Breaking down barriers in candidate hiring pools and increasing diversity is a key concern, both for HR hiring and all of the recruiting in which a company engages. HR staff play a key role in tracking a company's own level of diversity, through tools like anonymous, optional surveys of staff, and determining areas of improvement.
Trends in HR hiring and recruitment strategies
HR Hiring Today and Its Impact
Especially amidst acute labor shortages, recruitment becomes a critical - and oftentimes stressful - part of an HR team's role. Recent trends and developments have added new dimensions to the talent acquisition space for professionals to master.
For example, HR teams must now consider upskilling a key function of their role. The extinction of static job descriptions, along with the conditions of the current labor market, means recruiters cannot simply rely on a 1-to-1 match between hard skills and job requirements. Instead, interviewers must look at soft skills, applicable experiences, as well as interests, and see how those characteristics may be balanced with the organization's current learning and development infrastructure.
People analytics have also changed the ways companies recruit. Formerly defined somewhat narrowly - tracking employee headcount, for example - people analytics now encompasses wide use of HR data, including identifying key indicators of employee retention and performance, improving recruitment strategies, and tracking measures of engagement. Data-literate talent acquisition professionals are able to then translate these insights into action, using data efficiency for better decision-making.
Lastly, as with many other fields, automation has caused a considerable shift in how talent acquisition teams perform their job. Armed with predictive recruitment tools, automated messaging platforms, and programmatic marketing solutions, HR professionals have more opportunities than ever to utilize technology to target and identify candidates. Additionally, teams using automatic screening processes have the ability to qualify and respond to candidates even more efficiently. However, as with all technologies, these tools may be better in theory than practice, depending on the execution - they augment, but cannot replace human recruitment.
Moving forward with HR recruiting
The Unpredictability of Today's Workplace
Understanding the unpredictability in today's workplace and the importance of finding dependable partners to navigate the current, ever-changing landscape is going to be the key to success for companies today. When the way employees carry out their daily duties changes, HR has to change along with it. Recruiting should continue to shift toward a holistic view of each candidate, taking not only their skill set but their ability to work in a remote environment into account. It becomes a balance of skills, working style and overall fit. It's important to find dependable partners to navigate the future workplace successfully.
How Beacon Hill Can Help
As an experienced staffing and talent solutions partner, Beacon Hill can help you take these HR challenges head-on. With talent acquisition at the center of everything we do, we have been at the forefront of observing these changes and how they shape organizations. We have seen what skills are required to adapt to the changing landscape, as well as how organizations can utilize the new conditions as a way to enhance their recruiting strategy, rather than preclude it.
Beacon Hill specializes in a variety of different verticals - administrative and support, accounting and finance, human resources, legal, life sciences, technology, and more. We continue to approach these spaces with a dedicated lens, focusing on the key attributes to be successful in these skillsets, even as the environment becomes more amenable to nontraditional candidates. Why? Because, as recruiters, the best way to know how skills are transferable is to be well-versed in the basics. With decades of experience in each field, we can speak to how new skills and capabilities may translate, and how they might specifically benefit your organization.
Every day, our experts interact with a broad range of candidates nationwide, allowing clients to tap into a vast network of qualified talent, regardless of their location or experience. Due to our deep experience with an array of talent solutions, we can work with employers to determine the best options for their specific needs and plans for growth.
Perhaps bringing someone on as a direct hire isn't necessarily the best option for your company right now. In that case, we have experience employing right-to-hire, contract-to-hire, contract, and other options to fulfill your organizational needs.
If you don't know where to start, we do. Contact us today to find out more about how Beacon Hill can assist your company with all of its HR recruiting needs.