It’s been well-reported that 2022 brought numerous challenges in the recruitment space for businesses, with the market still considered candidate-driven.

Emily Lynch recently joined HLB Mann Judd Perth as the firm’s Talent Acquisition Specialist, to focus on recruitment strategies for the firm. In this Q&A, Emily talks about the changing landscape of recruitment and some key trends she sees as emerging.

What are the key recruitment issues presently facing business leaders?

In today’s environment, candidates are interviewing us as much as we are interviewing them. It is now increasingly easier for candidates to gain insights, read employer reviews and make decisions about job opportunities before the recruitment process has even started. Increased employer branding in the workplace is boosted by the use of social media. Businesses and recruiters are fighting to be seen and heard in a candidate market that is exhausted, which is a major contributing factor to the difficulties faced in finding qualified candidates that are a good ‘fit’ for businesses.

Many believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for the recruitment issues faced by businesses. What’s your view?

The pandemic certainly impacted the recruitment function across all sectors and forced many organisations to stand down/terminate their employees or place a freeze on recruitment activities. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding job security and so workers returned home and sought employment opportunities outside of their preferred job. Still, almost three years after the pandemic came to a head, uncertainty and job loss fears loom in the background due to new COVID subvariants and ongoing mentions of COVID-related mandates being reintroduced.

What are candidates looking for from a role and a business?

COVID forced business leaders and staff to deliberately and regularly check in with one another. I think one of the great things that came out of the pandemic was that it further broke down the barriers between business needs and seeing people as human beings who need to be nurtured, cared for, and protected (in the security of their job). What people look for in a role and from a business are not dissimilar to what they seek in life. As human beings we individually have different needs – psychological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualisation – that motivate us and, if these needs are met, we feel valued and safe. Reflected in the workplace and how candidates seek out potential roles and businesses it can look like something like this:

  • Psychological – Candidates want to work in an environment where they feel comfortable. It is an important consideration for candidates that workplace locations and facilities are well maintained.
  • Safety – Job security, in the form of employment contracts and safe working conditions, is another consideration for candidates, particularly following the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.
  • Social – Staff dedicate a lot of time to their workplace, and organisations that promote the fostering of relationships and team building activities are appealing. Connection and being able to ‘have a laugh’ are a huge selling point for candidates.
  • Esteem – Staff want feedback and recognition for their work. Peer reviews and reward and recognition programs are attractive and certainly contribute to candidates’ consideration.
  • Self-actualisation – Personal development plans, training, secondments, mentoring and opportunities for promotion are all important considerations for candidates. Most candidates seeking new job opportunities are looking for that next big challenge and businesses that promote this in conjunction with a supportive leadership team will appeal most to candidates.

Once staff members are hired, the next step for businesses is to retain their talent. What are some tips on how businesses can retain their staff?

First and foremost, it will never be a one-size-fits-all strategy. Here are a few of my tips to keep employees happy and engaged:

  1. Start by hiring people who are passionate. Employ individuals who are aligned with, and deeply engaged in, the core purpose, vision and values of your business.
  2. Get to know your staff – what motivates and demotivates an individual will never be the same from one person to another. Have regular, ongoing, and open conversations with your staff and build relationships. Nothing should ever come as a surprise if you have genuine and trusting relationships.
  3. Train people to explore and enhance their skills as people are constantly seeking training and development opportunities. Work with your staff and nurture their inquisitive minds by facilitating training needs as best you can.
  4. Finally, give people challenging problems – if you have staff who feel empowered, are confident, have trust in their leaders and the business, the next thing they are seeking is a challenge. Businesses exist because of challenges and problems. If you set your employees up with the above, they can use their skills with support that is available at your business, to solve problems and feel accomplished and satisfied about doing so.

What are some of the key trends you see emerging in recruitment for 2023?

COVID-19 really taught us that flexibility works not only for individuals but for businesses too. The pandemic forced us to slow down and allowed us to reconnect with our families and friends, which people enjoyed. Work-life balance is an important consideration for potential and current staff, and I think the idea of a condensed 4-day work week is appealing and certainly something businesses and recruiters will have to consider in 2023. Generation Z is also set to enter the job market and will expect recruitment and business processes to be virtual, fast–paced and mobile-orientated. Old and outdated recruitment methods will need to be reviewed as they will almost certainly be unappealing for potential candidates heading into 2023.

Authored by Emily Lynch, Talent Acquisition Specialist, HLB Mann Judd Perth.

This article was first published in the Summer 2022/23 edition of HLB Mann Judd Perth’s Client Alert.