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True Trend or Tall Tale?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Every new year, anyone who is anyone in the world of talent and recruitment comes out with a bold list of talent trend predictions. These range from the humble to the outlandish, and now that the dust of 2023 has settled a bit, we think it’s time to revisit those predictions and see if they are actually holding water, or are just tall tales.


What’s hot

These are the things that we absolutely expect to see in earnest in 2023. They’re either already in place with many organisations, or have started to achieve critical mass.


Hybrid Work

Across the pond in America, the hybrid work debate still rages on, with many employers (including a certain, eccentric electric car mogul) forcing employees to come back to the office either part-time or full-time as the pandemic starts to wind down.


But here in Australia, the dust has well and truly settled, with one-in-four Australians actually willing to take a pay cut to ensure their flexibility to work remotely. Most won’t even have to; in competitive fields like tech and e-commerce, candidates just won’t consider a role that doesn’t offer flexible working - they know that there are plenty of companies around the corner that do.


From an HR perspective, the hybrid work model can be difficult to navigate. Things would be way easier if we just committed to 100% remote or 100% in-office, but hybrid means you have to account for both in-office and remote workers all of the time. The challenge here is keeping your remote workers engaged and really feeling like they are part of the same team as your office workers.


You can use technology to offset some of this: ensuring that the tools used for collaboration are robust enough that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or at home, but it’s going to take a bit of a culture shift to truly engage this challenge. Nobody wants to do “Friday arvo Zoom quizzes” or “virtual beers” anymore (we well and truly had enough of that during lockdown) so you’ll have to find ways to bring your people together in hybrid ways.


Instead of one big Christmas party in a central location, have multiple, smaller parties, in locations convenient to your remote workers. Incentivise remote workers to make the trip into the office for big events such as town halls with perks like a free lunch. Encourage individual teams to set “team days” at the office where everyone tries to come in at least once a week on the same day.


Hybrid work is here to stay in Australia, so this one is absolutely a True Trend you should take heed of.


Automation

In our increasingly tight and expensive labour market, it is clear that automation in general, be it robotic or AI, is here to stay and is being rapidly adopted by mid-sized organisations.


Rather than thinking of replacing humans with robots, we should instead think about how we can use automation to enhance the employee experience. Eliminating manual, repetitive, and unfulfilling tasks is an amazing way of improving the employee experience and increasing capacity.


Companies are thinking long and hard about how automation can benefit all aspects of their business, not just the ones that are immediately obvious. AI recruitment software, for example, that automates candidate screening and selection is going to vastly improve the lives of your recruiters, who are probably dreading the thought of reading through a hundred more resumes, and would rather be having fulfilling screening calls with good prospects.


The robot revolution is here, but hopefully, it can be one in which we live and work in harmony with our AI brethren.


 

What’s around the corner

A couple of really interesting topics that are grabbing headlines, and gaining a lot of traction, but are still a little bit further out than the next 12 months. Keep an eye on these in 2024.


DE&I

This is the saddest one as it’s such an important thing for society as a whole, but for the vast majority of companies, DE&I still feels like a box-ticking exercise. Initiatives feel like superficial window dressing that is slapped on to try and hide the deep-rooted, institutional problems behind them. No matter how fancy your anti-bias HR tech is, it won’t solve racism and bigotry within your company.


I feel like the problem is that companies are jumping straight to “how can we fix inequality in our company or hiring process?” without asking “why does our company have inequality?” If there are problems in your company that make for a poor employee experience, it’s going to have the knock-on effect of being an even poorer experience for marginalized groups. So rather than simply throwing money at retention and attraction programs for these groups, they should be simply fixing the overall employee experience.


Additionally, organisations need to actually connect measurable business outcomes to DE&I measures. It requires a shift in mindset through recruiting teams and hiring leaders, and a gradual shift in HR Tech to ensure combating bias is the norm, rather than an added feature. Companies need to ensure they have actual support structures for marginalized groups, and while the early DE&I folks are trailblazers, they can’t fight the good fight all by themselves.


Generative AI

ChatGPT made waves across the tech landscape earlier in the year with its AI chat generation. People were feeding it all sorts of prompts in an attempt to test the limits of what work could actually be automated. It proved competent (though flawed) in generating copy for all sorts of industries, and HR was no exception, with prompts around “respectful rejection letters” and “analysis of resumes” being some examples.


Within just a short span of time we’ve witnessed the enormous potential of Generative AI, and with Google and Microsoft rushing to release their own offerings, how we search, access, and generate content has been changed forever.


But just like the printing press revolutionized the written word, it will take time for this new technology to be refined and perfected enough that it is considered a tool for everyday use. I don’t see too many recruiters fully integrating ChatGPT to write job adverts, user manuals, and interview feedback in the next 12 months, but in a few years, especially when HR tech has had time to really implement the technology into its tools, it may well be the norm that “writing skills” become “AI prompting skills”.

 

What’s not


Finally, here are a couple of things we think are either quite a ways off. Great ideas that lack the traction required to turn them into a true trend.


CRM and Recruitment Marketing

As someone who has spent a lot of time in the recruitment marketing space, it really pains me to say that most companies still do not get CRM and recruitment marketing. One of the biggest mistakes is not understanding the expertise required to execute CRM or Recruitment Marketing campaigns well and giving it to a recruiter as a pet project, rather than hiring experts to properly implement and maintain a solution. Organisations have had 10-15 years to embrace CRM and Recruitment Marketing tech, and if they haven’t already, my feeling is that they’re not going to start in 2023. It’s also something that’s of fairly niche value and is heavily skewed towards large companies. Arguably, smaller companies need a bigger focus on Recruitment Marketing to educate candidates about the opportunities and work culture that they offer. However they may not have the time, expertise or volume of hires to make the effort worthwhile.


So while we see CRM and Recruitment Marketing as valuable tools that can help to differentiate you from your competitors in the ever-accelerating war for talent, I don’t think 2023 will be the year that everyone suddenly picks up a recruitment marketing function. But I hope to be proved wrong!



The 4 day work week


Look, all of the research coming in from trials around the world are showing that the 4 day work week is simply better. Workers are more productive and more fulfilled, and companies save money and the environment. But it’s just not going to happen… at least, not in the near future.


Committing to a 4-day work week is a huge cultural shift, one that we honestly haven’t seen since, well, the 5 day work week. Our whole society is built around the 5-day work week. Sporting and cultural events are held on Saturday and Sunday. Hospitality workers are paid more on the weekends. Public holidays are (usually) placed to extend the weekend.


More than that, there is still a deeply ingrained belief that if you only work 80% of the time, you should only get 80% of the pay, and let’s be honest, if you asked most people if they would take a 20% pay cut to have Fridays off… many would probably say no. And with rising salaries and a tight job market, economically it seems unlikely that employers would simply pay a 5-day salary for a 4-day work week.


There’s also the 33% of Australians who are employed on a part-time or casual basis to consider. What does the 4-day workweek look like to them? If you’re already working 4 days would you just get a pay rise? Would you cut down to 3 days at the same pay? If you’re paid hourly… does your hourly rate go up to compensate? There are certainly a lot of questions to consider.


The shift to a 4-day work week has to happen at all levels - industry, government, and personal. Industries have to show that they’re willing to continue paying full-time rates for one less working day. The government has to begin to recognize “Friday” as another weekend. And we have to adjust our own personal habits and biases to comply.


It’s coming but maybe check back in a decade.. or two.

 

Conclusion

Overall, there are some really exciting things happening in the HR landscape, and quite a few that involve the use of ever-evolving Talent Technology. If you’re overwhelmed by all of these trends and need someone to sort the chaff from the wheat, we're experts at understanding exactly what technology is going to solve your needs, and more importantly, the right people and process to ensure it’s actually a success.




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