It may seem like an exaggeration but, there used to be an ‘era’, not too long ago, when people were commuting from home to the office every weekday for work. The very concepts of hybrid or remote working models were alien to most of us. The pandemic caused tremendous economic and social disruption, highlighting various points, including the fact that many jobs can be done remotely.
And now, there is no going back. Hybrid and remote work have become a necessity for most candidates in today’s workplace.
The last three years have been a turbulent time for talent acquisition teams. And today, it is critical to review the transformations in the way we work and what candidates are looking for as compared to the pre-COVID times.
Here’s a look at how changes took place within the talent acquisition industry from 2019 to 2022, and how the industry could look like as we enter 2023.
2019: Pre-COVID Outlook
2019 witnessed an increased competition for talent on the back of strong growth in industries, particularly in consumer and retail, life sciences, manufacturing, and technology. Besides talent acquisition, it was also the year where talent acquisition technology and employer brand were the top areas of investment for companies’ HR departments.
The following year was dominated by COVID-19 the world over, with many organisations laying off workers and freezing hiring. Talent acquisition teams were also downsized, and most talent acquisition investments were either cut, or held back.
The pandemic transformed HR functions as not only did they have to help companies transition to remote working environments but also enhance their focus on employee engagement.
Besides physical well-being, organisations looked at financial and emotional well-being with stress levels rising. Employee well-being became the number one priority, with mental health coming to the fore, as the world and companies grappled with workforce stress levels, burnout, and work-life balance.
2021 - mid-2022: Recovery
As the world slowly adapted and recovered from the aftermath of the pandemic, there was a record number of job openings due to pent up demand. The hiring market was back in motion again, along with wage inflation. It was a candidate market, with employers needing to offer higher salaries and better benefits and welfare packages due to inflation and the focus on mental health, which became a necessity.
This period also experienced what is termed as The Great Resignation - where people left their jobs in droves. Employees left their jobs due to salary freezes, worsening work-life balance and toxic work cultures. They also feared being laid off or were asked to take a temporary leave of absence. The reduction in employee welfare and benefits were cited as reasons for leaving too.
Talent acquisition teams were stretched to the limits, as companies were unprepared for the sudden high demand for hiring talents. They rushed to rebuild, and those that were understaffed engaged recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partners and staffing agencies. To better retain and attract talent, there was also a surge in global companies refreshing their employee value propositions and employee policies - such as offering better welfare and benefits packages.
For the rest of 2022, businesses have been cautious, slowing down in hiring talent amidst predictions of a looming economic recession. To date, technology companies such as Microsoft, Twitter, Meta and Amazon have laid off thousands of workers. Within the Asia Pacific region, we found that 70% of employees were thinking of moving to a new job next year, and 81% of Gen Z employees are thinking of resigning from their current jobs. 65% of employees would rather sacrifice a better salary for a workplace with better culture and benefits.
Gaps in employer and candidate expectations have also become glaringly apparent. We found that candidates in the APAC region prioritised three requirements before deciding to join a company: leadership, company culture and values, and having a sense of purpose. On the other hand, employers thought that salary, career progression and employer branding, or reputation, were the critical components in attracting talent.
2023: What’s Next
In the coming year, a state of equilibrium is expected - with growth continuing in pockets. Talent acquisition services are expected to be customised and tailored to the needs of their organisations, even provided as modular point solutions that address specific talent acquisition challenges. This could take the form of talent market intelligence, localising an EVP to the region or even country, integrating technology - whether it is through data or tools, into the hiring process to enhance the candidate experience. A host of other such talent acquisition services and talent attraction strategies would also need to centre around employer reputation and an organisation’s sense of purpose, not just as a narrative, but in action.
Employers should consider adapting, listening, and striking a balance between what candidates and employees want, with their business needs. They should also collaborate with their HR teams to review their internal employee value propositions, work culture, welfare, and benefits package. Only then, would companies be able to move forward and navigate the changed talent acquisition landscape effectively.
2022 brought us chaos, but also the opportunity to review, renew, and advance. Read the end-2022 issue of People Matters Digital Magazine for a look back, and some key takeaways to bring forward.