As we reach the end of the first quarter of 2023, last year’s fear of the job market grinding to a halt doesn’t appear to have fully materialised.
The most recent data from the ONS revealed that the number of job vacancies in the UK from October to December 2022 was 1,161,000: a decrease of 75,000 from July to September 2022. Despite six consecutive quarterly falls, the number of job vacancies remain at historically high levels, meaning there’s clearly still a huge demand for candidates.
That being said, we’re all aware of the financial difficulties virtually every business is now under. The much-publicised cost-of-living crisis has put everyone’s finances under pressure, meaning we all have much less free cash to spend – and this includes employers. This poses a problem for organisations looking to plug their skills gaps with fresh talent…
Being smart with recruitment
Our own survey into how HR is coping with the recession found that over 57% of organisations were looking to cut back or freeze recruitment efforts in 2023. This means that when a company must dip into the jobs market, their HR teams must work incredibly smart and cost-effectively when it comes to standing out from their candidate-baiting rivals – ensuring both their time and precious finances attract and retain the best candidates for their business.
Of course, when it comes to attracting those all-important candidates, annual salary will play a huge part in their decision making – especially in a cost-of-living crisis! However, money isn’t the only factor in candidate attraction.
Sure, offering an enhanced annual salary may work in the short-term and result in a deluge of candidate applications. But more money doesn’t guarantee better levels of retention further down the line. In fact, purely focusing on remuneration can often do more harm than good.
This is where knowing what candidates want from a job – besides money – can help HR teams make their recruitment efforts more successful: both for the finances of the business, and the career of the candidate…
So, what do candidates want from employers this year? Here’s what I believe are the 4 core factors HR need to consider in 2023.
- Trust and confidence in employers
As someone who’s played their part in recruiting new talent to a business, one of the things I often hear from candidates is that they need to trust their prospective new employers. They want to trust their careers will be enhanced, trust their contributions are recognised, and trust the role – and business – is right for them as a person.
Ultimately, if you don’t show you can be trusted as an organisation to do all or any of things, it doesn’t matter how much money you offer a candidate: it’s more than likely your offers will be turned down, and vacancies left unfilled…
It’s also vital to remember that trust shouldn’t be forgotten when it comes to your longer-serving employees, either. I’ve lost count of people who’ve told me they want to leave their job or have turned down job offers due to a lack of trust: either because they don’t trust the organisation has their best interests at heart, or feel it doesn’t have a supportive or positive company culture.
Either way, if your organisation wants to succeed in attracting the best talent, words count for nothing – you really must prove how trustworthy you are. You can read more about how you can build trust within your organisation in this blog.
- An acknowledgement that the working world has changed
Go back 4 years, and widespread flexible, hybrid and remote working were still considered by many as a ‘nice to have’, or even a bit of a novelty. The thought of working from home full time, or in a location other than a shared workspace, was (and still is) viewed with scepticism: but, the fact of the matter is, the Covid-19 pandemic turned how many of us work on its head.
Candidates in 2023 now expect a level of flexible, remote or hybrid working – especially if the job supports it. Over the past couple of years, many candidates I’ve spoken with often say the most attractive employers are those who empower colleagues to make decisions about when and where they work. This very much goes hand-in-hand with that element of trust I mentioned earlier.
If a business can support remote, hybrid or flexible working and chooses instead to insist on full-time office working, they may well find their roles increasingly difficult to fill.
- An end to the reliance of the traditional working week
Now, this may be somewhat contentious, but it follows on nicely from flexible and hybrid working.
The huge change in how and where we work has afforded many people to have a more positive work-life balance. Candidates are now wanting more flexibility in their work and from their employers than ever before, and I believe that the next (albeit tentative) step will be the end of working a traditional 9-5 working week.
We’re already seeing many businesses here in the UK trialing a 4-day working week, allowing for three full days off. The theory being employees can create the same output using fewer working hours, and enjoy longer periods of rest and free time. The scheme primarily aims to reduce the working hours to 32 per week (from a maximum of 36) over 4 days with no reduction in wages. It does this by finding similar outputs in productivity by prioritising how employees use their time: such as less/ shorter meetings, agreed agendas, intended outcomes and streamlining work processes.
Advocates of 4-day weeks argue that it supports a better work/life balance and increases company loyalty. Of course, this model won’t be possible for every business: but, for companies that support flexible, hybrid or remote work yet still work ‘traditional’ working patterns, I really do believe that candidates will now be questioning why they do. In fact, there’s already evidence of many employees who’ve tried 4-day working weeks vowing never to return to the ‘old’ way of working!
If you’re keen to attract the best candidates to your business, being receptive to new ways of working is something you cannot afford to ignore…
- Upskilling and the chance to rise up the ranks
The chance to learn new skills and enhance career opportunities has always been a key want for employees. In fact, a recent article shared by online job board Otta backed up this statement: revealing that career development and progression was a top 3 consideration for candidates using their website.
When a candidate considers their next career step, they want reassurances that a prospective new employer will provide a clear and achievable path for career progression. And, speaking to candidates myself, questions about career development and learning are some of the most common I get asked in interviews; so, it clearly matters to them just as much as what the job pays!
With the jobs market expected to remain competitive throughout 2023, focusing on training, development and upskilling will give you a better chance of attracting the best candidates, and give you a competitive edge over rivals. That’s because of two reasons: the first, is that upskilling your employees not only fills in existing gaps, but also helps businesses avoid recruitment costs in the future.
Secondly, it can also create more solid succession plans; increasing rates of retention when employees with the best performance or career potentials can see a path forward.
So, great for candidates, great for your business… great for everyone!
This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn by our HR and Wellbeing Manager Kim Holdroyd. You can view her original article here.