It’s been argued that in the current climate, organizations need just as much luck as competent recruiters and recruitment strategies in order to find that “perfect candidate”.
However, I’m of the view that what businesses have previously defined as the “right hire” has adapted and changed — as have the expectations of candidates, who now have different priorities when it comes to selecting their “ideal” next role.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing Great Resignation contributed to this shift of mindset on both sides, causing significant ramifications when it comes to available talent and placing further pressure on organizations.
While it was mainly professionals aged between 20 and 30 leaving jobs at the start of the pandemic, this pattern is shifting. According to people analytics provider Visier’s “Stop the Exit” report, which considers resignation rate percentage increase by age group, the 20-25 year age group still has the highest resignation numbers, but older age groups are joining the trend1. In fact, the rate of increase for age groups that are typically slower to change has increased at a significant rate, with resignation rates for employees aged between 30 and 50 climbing by over 38%2.
The reasons why people in the latter age group are leaving their positions are numerous: changes in priorities, early retirement, better opportunities, mental health, more flexible work set ups and so on.
But I think it’s more than that.
The pandemic has had a profound effect on how people feel about life and work. While organizations continue to find their feet after two years of pandemic life, remote work, furloughs and isolation have disrupted society, causing a marked change in mindset. But many organizations have simply proceeded with their operations, culture and recruitment processes as before.
In a time where the market is candidate-driven and companies are eagerly looking — and competing — for skilled candidates to fill their many vacancies, organizations must change the way they hire to attract talent.
Understanding the shift in priorities and changing expectations of employees is key for organizations to succeed in the hiring game. To stand out from the crowd, you need to know what attracts modern job-seekers — and tailor your job search around this.
According to Flexjobs 10th Annual Survey, 58% of those surveyed said they want a fully remote job, and a further 39% of respondents would seek hybrid arrangements. These findings highlight that employee mindsets have changed. Where a request to work from home permanently or in a hybrid set up would have been rare five years, it’s now seen as a requirement, rather than a nice-to-have. Yet, according to a survey by Timewise, only 26% of job ads in the UK highlight flexibility.
This means three out of four jobs advertised do not include flexible working offers. If flexible work is a possibility but not highlighted or mentioned in postings, you’re missing out on top talent.
At Insight, we implemented flexible work opportunities before the COVID-19 pandemic. This was based on employee feedback and the fact that we work in an industry where remote work is not only possible but essential for our global teams. Reducing the number of hours spent commuting, having more flexibility when it comes to parenting duties and creating an environment of work-life balance have made our teammates enjoy hybrid work.
The pandemic also laid bare the value of skilled workers, particularly when it comes to digital skills, which are necessary in our increasingly technological world. When Fortune, together with Deloitte, surveyed a pool of CEOs from global organizations, they found that 73% of CEOs agreed that the principal threat to their 2022 business strategy would arise from a shortage of skills and labor5. “Looking for skills and competencies” was the number-one priority for HR leaders hiring in 2022 according to GartnerHR survey6, and similarly, LinkedIn reported a yearly 21% increase in job postings advertising skills and responsibilities instead of qualifications over the last year in the US7.
In the technology sector, the lack of available skilled workers looking for a specific job is causing a serious skills gap. This places further pressure on businesses, with companies needing workers with the right skills to lead the rapid digital transformation organizations pursued during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some businesses are seeing opportunities in moving to a transferrable skills-based model of hiring. This is not just beneficial for the employer, but also the jobseeker, who may have been dissuaded from applying if they felt they didn’t have the relevant qualifications or job experience in that field.
By not only recognizing that there’s a wider skills shortage, but also understanding the opportunities of a transferrable skills-based model, companies will need to provide investment, training and development opportunities across a wide spectrum of areas.
At Insight, we’ve sought to address this as an organization with the launch of Insight’s Skills Academy, a 24-month program designed to entice individuals with no background in IT and provide them with the chance to start a career in the technology industry. Insight’s Skills Academy has proven a huge success and attracted a plethora of applicants who have both transferable skills and the determination to succeed in a new field.
Concentrating on creating a culture where employees feel valued can attract individuals with a similar mindset, bind employees to an organization and potentially increase talent retention in the long run.
We’ve also created platforms for employees to give feedback, which provides insights to our leadership to make positive changes and help keep employee satisfaction high.
At a time where individuals are shifting their focus from high-powered careers to more flexible, productive and balanced lifestyles, an organization’s culture can be a winning factor — and companies need to advertise if they have it.
And, if they don’t, it’s imperative that they address it. A global McKinsey executive survey highlighted that 7% of executives do not believe their companies can retain highly talented people8.
At Insight, we place a lot of emphasis on development and support. We recognize that people need to feel they are growing both professionally and personally, and we’ve focused our leadership goals and development programs on just that. Teammates are empowered to own their development goals, and we focus on inspiring and investing in them to make those goals a reality.
We've also put extra focus into the outcomes of our values. Right from interview stage, we underline the importance our three core values of hunger, heart and harmony. We’ve found this extra sense of focus and purpose really helps people to feel a part of something — and that, in turn, feeds our award-winning culture. Our average retention of teammates in the UK is almost seven years, and the feedback we receive overwhelmingly states that the number-one reason they choose to stay is the culture of the business and the people who make it happen.
The war for talent is real and many are losing the game. While no one appears to have a winning formula — after all, skilled workers are still scarce and job openings continue to grow — it could be worth reassessing how we search for talent, how we look after existing employees and how the culture of the organization has cultivated. While we can’t all be winners in a talent war, the time has come for organizations to modernize the way they hire and seek to retain teammates.
1 Visier Report: Stop the Exit
2 Visier Report: Stop the Exit
8 “McKinsey Global Survey: War for talent 2000,” https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent