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The future of hiring: 4 workforce trends to keep in mind

If you’re managing staff in any function – be it a team manager or an HR specialist – the past two years have really stretched you thin. When COVID-19 hit, no one knew exactly what to expect. As we all finally began to grasp its impact, The Great Resignation peeked around the corner. At this point, staff management was ready to pull their hair out.

workforce trends

However, you should never forget about silver linings. The economic freedoms provided by pandemic stimulus payments meant that people finally decided to act on their job dissatisfaction, and explore the options they previously thought unattainable. As this began to happen, it sparked career switching and more creative ways to recruit – with considerations other than workplace qualifications taking the lead.

With tech being the backbone of all workplace changes, it also opened the door for job migration – from the comfort of your home. Job seekers suddenly found themselves with a plethora of options on a global market, and recruiters gained access to a global talent market. All of a sudden, there were new considerations to take into account. Let’s take a look at the workforce trends you need to keep in mind going forward.

Educational diversity

The path to employment is different for every employee. This has been true for quite some time, and this workforce trend is getting more spotlight time as jobs across industries overlap with one another. The skillset needed to get a certain job done has expanded, meaning that a job can be done by people with diverse educational backgrounds.

Not only that, but the question of experience vs. education has never been as prominent as now and will continue as a workforce trend – previous work experience creates habits that might be more valuable than education with no actual workdays logged.

This educational diversity is an asset for businesses. Different educational backgrounds can take various forms: your candidate might be jumping into your industry with a totally different skillset; or you might get candidates with appropriate education but from a different part of the world. Both scenarios have the potential to broaden your team’s capabilities.

However, educational diversity can also be a source of conflict – be it cultural or operational – due to the increased likelihood that different backgrounds bring different approaches to workflows and processes. This can easily be mitigated through custom onboarding procedures: take your time when shortlisting candidates, and create a custom learning and onboarding journey for each of them. That way you’ll address their starting point, and also be able to lead all candidates to the same endpoint.

Generational differences

Today’s workforce is generationally very diverse, possibly more than ever. The workforce includes Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z – and all their individual peculiarities contribute to diversity further than mere age differences.

Different generations want different things and value different perks. Gone are the days when financial stimulus was the sole driver of employee satisfaction; workers nowadays have a much deeper pool of benefits they like to see at their job of choice. One major consideration is work/life balance, which stems from hybrid and remote work models, as well as different approaches to work schedules.

Naturally, this means recruiters need to take all of these into account if they want to attract and retain multi-generational talent in the future of hiring. Remote work, flexible shifts and hours – there is still considerable disparity between employees and employers on the importance of each, but this gap needs to go away since mutual benefit is at stake.

And speaking of gaps: companies with low scores for gender and ethnic/cultural diversity are 29% less likely to drive their profit margins above the overall average. This is another major issue to address.

benefits of diversity in leadership

Cultural considerations

This workforce trend was already in motion before the pandemic hit, but lockdowns forced us to open up to the global market much faster. The job market suddenly went global, with tools developed to circumvent stay-at-home orders now being the facilitators for quick and efficient online communication.

As recruiters find themselves doing recruitment with candidates from abroad – and from other parts of the world as well – cultural differences and sensitivity come into play. A simple talk can get more complicated moving from someone from your vicinity to someone from a different continent; a job interview just multiplies the considerations to bear in mind.

Recruiting for an abroad branch poses a very similar adaptation problem, although a bit different than drawing talent to your HQ. While you might funnel differences towards yourself when recruiting for your HQ, setting up a branch in an entirely different culture poses a new set of challenges.

In any case, it’s wise to keep in mind that companies with top performance in ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams are one-third more likely to reach profits that are industry-leading.

Fighting bias

With all of the above being very tangible and legitimate processes that were already happening before COVID (up to a point), it’s now time to accept that things have irreversibly changed. This might have a grim ring to it, but things have also irreversibly changed for the better in many other ways.

What this all means is that recruitment specialists need to have their priorities straight, and on top of the list is fighting bias on all levels. Bias is the final instance that we can efficiently eliminate from our workflows, and doing so will not only positions your organization as inclusive and diverse, but might end up being a driver for bottom lines as well.

Unconscious bias may lead us to project character traits onto people based solely on some superficial characteristics, such as attire, accent, personality, physical appearance, etc. This can lead us to think well of undeserving individuals; if the projected traits are negative, the bias might end up being unfairly discriminatory. Eliminating the bias variable at each step in the recruitment process – whether conscious or not – will broaden your reach in the search for talent.

It’s all for the better – time to roll with it

The working environment has irrevocably changed. Generally speaking, it changed for the better. New generations have been brought up with a much wider scope of available information, and it has formed them into much more aware, conscious, and inclusive individuals.

Much like these workers prefer brands who do their part for the community, they are also likely to search for workplaces that align with their values and their preferred way of work. All of this is a gateway leading to better matches in recruiting, as well as getting talent with a border worldview and better capabilities.

The one thing standing in the way of these workforce trends is identifying the changes in motion, and putting them into the recruiting equation. From there, your work is cut out for you.

Derek Jones spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on workforce, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. 

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