Recruitment challenges for 2022

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After almost two years of disruption, employers and HR now have an opportunity to pause, reflect and reset. Many changes have been made for the better, but others have led to a whole new set of challenges. 
Arguably one of the greatest is today’s skills shortage. A closed international border and government policy led to a stronger than anticipated economic recovery and jobs growth in 2021, but it also deepened existing skills shortages. Findings from our Hays Salary Guide FY21/22 show that by June 30, 2022, 64 per cent of employers expect skills shortages to impact the effective operation of their organisation or department.   
Understanding and adopting a measured response to issues such as this will help organisations attract and retain top talent in 2022.  
From revamping your attraction strategy to reviving employee engagement, here are eight top recruitment trends to prepare for in 2022.

Eight recruitment trends you need to know in 2022

1. Reverse declining employee engagement

Motivating discretionary effort is always top of mind for leaders, but this additional effort is harder to earn after almost two years of pandemic stress. In 2020, employees regularly went above and beyond to help their organisation through the crisis. But 2021 failed to bring relief, or reward. Lockdowns continued, workloads stayed elevated and a salary expectation gap between employers and employees damaged staff engagement and discretionary effort.  
This year, organisations will need to work to improve employee engagement, both intrinsically and extrinsically, to keep staff motivated and productive – and inspire vital discretionary effort. Here’s our advice to help you revive employee engagement.

2. Prepare for high temporary worker turnover

Temporary and contract staff turnover is expected to increase in the first six months of 2022. With demand exceeding supply in the permanent market, organisations turned to temporary assignments to deliver business-critical projects in 2021. Now as the market dynamics of supply and demand flood the temporary market as well, organisations are approaching skilled temporaries with higher hourly rates to entice them from their current assignment.   
In 2022, the onus will be on employers and recruiters to expand their engagement and retention programs to include their temporary workers. For example, offer an induction program, appropriate resources and training, performance feedback, hybrid working practices and recognition and reward for a job well done. Follow these tips to engage and retain your temporaries for the full duration of their contract.

3. Bridge the skills gap

Australia’s skills shortage will continue to intensify in 2022. Predicted border openings will provide some additional access to overseas talent, but the number of departures will negate arrivals and fail to fully address the supply and demand imbalance. At the same time, the expected Great Resignation will fuel a hyper-active recruitment market.  
In 2022, employers and HR must rethink their attraction strategy to bridge the skills gap. Key to this strategy will be elevating upskilling from a desirable to necessary tactic to assemble a future-fit workforce with the skills essential to organisational growth. Upskilling is also highly motivating for staff, helping to stem turnover.

4. Understand candidate motivation

Highly competent candidates are aware of the value of their skills. They have choices in the job market and will not work for an organisation that offers subpar salary or benefits. AU only: In a LinkedIn poll we conducted, 46 per cent of 2,267 Australian respondents selected a salary increase as their most important priority in 2022. This was ahead of a new job (32 per cent), mental health support (14 per cent) and reconnecting with colleagues (8 per cent).
In 2022, employers and HR must tailor offers around what an individual candidate might value – and at the top of their list is a salary that corresponds to the demand for their skills. The alternative is a tug-of-war that employers cannot win when demand exceeds supply.

5. Flexibility equates to WFH any time

Nothing has changed more in the last two years than how we work. In organisations where daily operations could be completed virtually, work-from-home mandates proved that staff can be just as, if not more, productive away from the typical office environment. Despite this, some organisations suspended flexible working practices post-lockdowns and called staff back onsite. As a result, our recruiters witnessed rising turnover since in-demand candidates have multiple job choices and favour organisations that offer continued flexibility.   
In December 2021, we asked our Australian and New Zealand LinkedIn and Facebook followers what flexible working means to them. Of the 4,007 respondents, 59 per cent said it means regularly working from home at any time. For them, hybrid working should not involve a fixed schedule but a model that flexes in response to shifting business and individual priorities. However, a further 35 per cent nominated hybrid working on a set schedule, proving that some professionals are agreeable to a prescribed on-premise and remote roster.  
The conclusion is clear. In 2022, many businesses will need to shift to a permanent hybrid framework, if you haven’t already. Be aware of the hybrid arrangements competitors offer and expect to lose preferred candidates if yours fails to measure up. Consider how you could increase flexibility, such as by designing a strong learning and development program to train staff from home.

6. Look overseas to counteract the exodus of young Australians

Based on our conversations with employers and skilled professionals, the opening of our international border is not expected to be an antidote to the labour market skills shortage. Given record vacancy activity, internal and external migration will balance out the exodus of young workers who embark on their postponed overseas work experience, diminishing hopes that immigration will ease existing skills shortages in some industries.   
In 2022, employers and HR must take the mantle in proactively increasing graduate recruitment and sourcing talent from overseas to fill the gap.

7. Manage the ‘Great Exhaustion’

2020 was a long year. 2021 was even longer. In the wake of continued lockdowns, government restrictions and elevated workloads, many in the workforce are burned out – so much so the media recently coined the term the ‘Great Exhaustion’ to describe today’s burnout phenomenon. With performance at risk, employees need time to recover. 
In early 2022, employers and HR will need to hit pause and readdress workloads, increase mental health and wellbeing support, encourage staff to take annual leave and accommodate each individual employee’s needs. As organisations consider the future of work, now is the time to reset boundaries between work and home for employees to protect productivity and retention.

8. Seize the opportunity presented by ESG

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has become a key priority for investors, customers and candidates. ESG includes an organisation’s environmental impact, social impact, mental health and wellbeing support and equity, diversity and inclusion policies – and it’s in the spotlight as candidates focus on purpose and sustainability.  
ESG matters for employees. Now more than ever, they want to contribute to an organisation that actively works to positively impact the environment and society. With organisational purpose now a key driver of performance, in early 2022 employers will have no choice but to determine how to articulate and promote ESG credentials to potential employees. Know how to define your offer beyond salary and benefits to the impact the organisation’s activities have on society and the world around you.

Overcome these recruitment challenges for a successful 2022

If you plan to hire in 2022, make a start to address these challenges today. Then, as you plan for future growth, you’ll be in a stronger position to create a motivated, satisfied and skilled workforce who are ready and willing to help your organisation thrive and succeed in the year ahead.    
If we can assist, please contact us.    

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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