The 9 Talent Recruitment Trends That Will Shape 202429 Nov, 20239 minutes
After a challenging year for talent and recruitment in 2023 due to a range of factors, inclu...
After a challenging year for talent and recruitment in 2023 due to a range of factors, including an uncertain economic climate, talent priorities have shifted for many businesses. But how will this impact the trends that will become prevalent in 2024? Which approaches are organisations considering making to negate volatility in the talent market? And what are the pitfalls to avoid?
To understand the recruitment priorities and challenges the UK will likely face in 2024, Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group has researched 900 UK-based professionals involved in their organisation’s recruitment decision-making in 2023.
The findings of this research have revealed nine trends and considerations, both positive and negative, that the industry is anticipating for 2024. By identifying these trends early, organisations can prepare for the challenges 2024 is expected to bring and create a proactive strategy for success.
1. Deprioritising Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
2024 is not a clean slate, and a range of factors from 2023 will continue to impact the landscape of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) into the new year. In particular, the cost-of-living crisis, low retention rates, and increasing skill gaps are increasing external pressure that could see organisations falling short of DE&I efforts. While it is still a high priority for many organisations, there is evidence that the DE&I focus is slipping due to external factors.
The response from industry leaders has been to prioritise aspects of their business that are considered essential, resulting in DE&I being deprioritised by many - 47% of respondents and 42% of C-Suite leaders said they currently consider DE&I a minimal or limited priority.
However, Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group believes this short-term approach is a mistake and could lead to issues with trust and retention. Áine Fanning, Managing Director, Talent Evolution Group, said, “Despite this shift in approach, there are major factors that should encourage businesses to resist the trend away from a DE&I focus. Failure to keep promises that have been made could have a detrimental impact on client and stakeholder trust, employee satisfaction and therefore retention.”
Reasons behind DE&I being deprioritised
|A lack of leadership commitment
|Limited resources or budget
|Organisational values and culture misalignment
|A lack of understanding of DE&I benefits
|Insufficient training and awareness
|Competing priorities and resource allocation
|Don’t believe in the benefits of DE&I
2. Accessibility knowledge gaps
Awareness of the need for accessible hiring processes to accommodate all candidates has become more prevalent in recent years, with increased awareness and consideration given to accommodate neurodivergent candidates and those with hearing or mobility issues.
However, almost one-fifth (19%) of UK organisations say they lack established accessibility initiatives. While the Equality Act 2010 protects individuals regarding accessibility and recruitment, including support with application forms and interview arrangements, a knowledge gap exists among UK hiring managers that could be the reason for the current lack of initiative.
This confusion is clearest when recruiting temporary and contingent workers, with almost 1/3 (31%) of hiring managers saying they do not feel adequately equipped to handle situations which may require knowledge of UK employment law if dealing with temporary and contingent workers.
With such uncertainty, it is understandable why organisations may play safe in 2024 and stick to legal requirements. While this is a bare minimum, it at least provides a degree of clarity and guidance.
While knowledge gaps will continue to be a challenge in 2024, Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group believe that this trend should be resisted. Áine Fanning explains; “Not only can neglecting accessibility reduce the chances of finding the best possible talent, but it also risks sending the wrong message that your organisation doesn’t place value on inclusion for people of all abilities. Ensuring all candidate touchpoints (e.g., websites) are optimised for accessibility and adapting interview processes to be more inclusive can demonstrate that your organisation is welcoming to everyone.”
"94% of hiring managers agree there should be increased clarity regarding the legal distinctions between permanent employees and temporary/contingent workers."
3. Worker misclassification
Worker misclassification is a pressing concern for UK hiring managers, as the resulting compliance issues are expected to be a major challenge in 2024.
Within the UK legal landscape, three categories of people provide work for an employer: employees, workers and self-employed (contractor/freelance). As each status has different rights and benefits, problems can arise when people are misclassified, particularly employees being misclassified as workers or self-employed, and therefore missing out on certain rights.
Nearly a third (31%) of hiring managers told Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group that they feel unprepared for UK employment law situations, with the majority (94%) stating a need for clearer legal distinctions between permanent employees and temporary/contingent workers.
While mistakes are often honest errors, the reason behind misclassifications does not soften the consequences - employers could be held liable for breach of statutory rights, resulting in back payments, fines, and reputational damage.
An increased focus on training and support around recruitment and employment law will be essential in 2024 to prevent the trend of worker misclassification from becoming a greater concern.
4. Closer scrutiny of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being utilised in various aspects of business. The majority of UK organisations (87%) believe that AI provides a valuable resource to relieve some of the pressures and stresses of the recruitment process. But, in hiring, unconscious biases being perpetuated is an acute risk. The EU AI Directive has placed recruitment in the highest-risk category, as the unchecked use of algorithms in hiring processes has the potential to perpetuate discrimination.
Automation can be used to mechanise the search for top talent and speed up recruitment processes, but it has been noticed that automated software does not select candidates in a neutral way. Because AI is reliant on the data it is fed by humans, who also impact the outcome, a lack of diverse teams and extensive testing can mean that AI’s learning models perpetuate unconscious biases. Amazon infamously scrapped their AI hiring model when it realised that the models were trained to assess applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over 10 years. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry, and so filtered out female applications, perpetuating gender gaps in the tech industry.
AI was certainly one of last year's biggest trends; in 2024, we are likely to see its continued popularity. However, the primary AI trend for 2024 will be learning that automation is not always a perfect solution, and its implementation should be carefully considered. Signs of this trend are already apparent in Cpl’s Talent Evolution Groups’ research - 81% of hiring managers and 71% in C-Suite have encountered challenges with bias and discrimination issues when using AI in the recruiting process.
“As women and ethnic minority talent are typically underrepresented in certain roles and sectors, AI poses a challenge to diversity and inclusion and will require an increasing amount of vigilance as its use continues to become standard practice in 2024.”
5. Proactively engaging with departed employees
The current social media and review culture has made the management of employer branding more crucial than ever before. Dissatisfied candidates and employees may take to platforms like Instagram and TikTok to share negative experiences, which could potentially impact the image and reputation of the company. According to Glassdoor, 84% of job seekers find ratings and reviews crucial in deciding where to apply, highlighting the significant impact of poor reviews on talent attraction.
Addressing negative feedback and prioritising candidate and employee experiences is crucial for preventing damaging reviews from compromising the recruitment process. Still, findings from Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group’s research suggest that not enough is being done to understand and remedy the reasons for former employees leaving their roles.
Over half of the employees surveyed by Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group (55%) said they were not asked to attend an exit interview. Additionally, 38% were not asked for feedback after resigning from their last job.
Proactively engaging with departed employees and understanding friction points could potentially result in valuable insights that could improve retention and existing employees’ satisfaction while also minimising the negative feedback left by departing employees.
Reasons departing employees gave for leaving their roles
|Ineffective or toxic line management
|Lack of recognition
|Negative company culture
|Toxic working environment
6. Return to work limiting talent pools
Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group’s research shows that 81% of organisations are shifting away from remote work, with 30% of employees required to return to the physical workplace, and 51% encouraged to do so. This shift is a potential pitfall for HR departments.
For organisations with a blended workforce of remote, hybrid, and in-office employees, those who continue to work remotely may feel disconnected and receive less attention than their office-based counterparts. Unclear expectations can lead to reduced productivity, disengagement, and increased turnover. Consideration for this blended workforce is essential for a diverse and optimised workforce, and managers should focus on driving integration between remote workers and their onsite peers. HR departments and managers must find ways of blending workforces and pay consideration to individual circumstances in return-to-work situations, particularly during policymaking.
Áine Fanning noted “Consideration for remote and in-person employees within a blended workforce is vital for building a strong employer-employee relationship, boosting engagement, reducing turnover, and fostering business growth. In today's remote and hybrid work environment, a well-structured plan for integration is crucial for the success of employees.”
7. Lengthy approvals costing top talent
Hiring top talent is essential for organisations to maintain an advantage and remain agile in a competitive recruitment market. A prolonged hiring process can slow down business and frustrate leaders and candidates, as experienced by 92% of businesses, who reported losing candidates due to lengthy processes in 2023.
If the onboarding process has multiple rounds and there is procrastination between the stages, there is a significant risk that candidates will lose interest, resulting in the possibility of losing top talent to competitors. If the candidate decides to move elsewhere before completing the interview process, the procrastination would have resulted in significant amounts of time, effort, and budget being wasted.
“To avoid slow approvals and secure your top candidates in 2024, hiring managers and candidates must maintain regular communication to ensure that everything possible is being done to secure top talent and prevent candidates from being left in recruitment limbo.” said Áine Fanning. “This could include making approvals in advance to ensure the process is smooth for candidates and deliberation is minimised within the organisation.”
"48% of UK businesses admitted to losing out on talent due to procrastination on numerous occasions."
8. The talent drought
According to Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group’s research, 93% of hiring managers are concerned about a talent drought rolling into 2024.
Demographic shifts, including an ageing population and lack of EU workers, are reducing the pool of available, experienced, and qualified workers. In 2024, the UK’s job market will further experience a shortage of skilled candidates as rapid technological advancements contribute to a significant and growing skills gap due to the specific skills required to work alongside new tech.
Not only are organisations struggling with the low supply of qualified candidates, but 79% of hiring managers anticipate reduced talent attraction budgets for 2024, with only 4% expecting an increase. This will potentially exacerbate the challenge of sourcing in-demand candidates from a limited talent pool.
“Companies are now not only competing locally but globally for talent, intensifying the competition for highly skilled individuals.” said Áine. “The acceptance of remote work, accelerated by the pandemic, has expanded candidate job opportunities, requiring employers to expand beyond their previous localised talent pool.”
To address this challenge, many organisations are outsourcing their talent functions, with half (50%) already outsourcing and over a quarter (27%) considering outsourcing in 2024.
Reasons for increased outsourcing
|Access to a broader talent pool
|Time efficiency and allowing HR to focus on internal strategy
|Cost savings on advertising, candidate sourcing, background checks, and other recruitment-related tasks
9. The spiralling cost of a best-in-class talent function
The adoption of cutting-edge tech, including AI recruitment software and advanced analytics tools, has caused the development and ongoing running costs of a best-in-class talent function to become significantly more expensive.
In addition, a growing emphasis on compliance with employment legislation, data privacy regulations, and diversity and inclusion requirements is also demanding additional resources, especially as failure to adhere will result in financial penalties and lengthy legal processes that could harm an organisation's corporate reputation.
Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group anticipates that the response to this situation will see the use of outsourcing talent solutions rise in the new year, with 77% of organisations saying they are planning to outsource recruitment in 2024 to reduce in-house workload and maximise investment access to talent expertise and cutting-edge recruitment tools.
It is expected that strategic workforce planning will become more sophisticated as companies seek to allocate resources where they will make the highest impact. Analytics and data-driven insights will become even more essential to decision-making around talent acquisition.
“Most SMEs are not in a position where they can afford to implement cutting-edge talent technology solutions, people and expertise when there is a finite level of resources. But by partnering with external experts like Cpl’s Talent Evolution Group, it is possible to gain access to best-in-class solutions for recruitment without having to build it in-house.”
Navigating the challenges and opportunities of 2024
Áine Fanning, Managing Director, Talent Evolution Group, said, "As we look ahead to 2024, it's evident that the talent landscape is evolving rapidly, presenting both challenges and opportunities for organisations. In light of the trends outlined, it's clear that the talent landscape in 2024 will demand a strategic approach from both organisations and candidates alike. Hiring managers will need to proactively address areas like diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring they remain a top priority despite potential shifts in focus. Neglecting Accessibility initiatives can hinder talent acquisition and send a negative message about inclusivity.”
“Navigating the complexities of AI in recruitment will be crucial and will continue to be a significant talking point for all industries as we grapple with moral dilemmas on how best to utilise technology whilst retaining the all-important human touch and emotion. The industry already utilises AI and automation, but we must be mindful that the potential for bias and discrimination remains a pressing concern.
Streamlining approval processes and minimising hiring delays will be imperative for securing top talent in a competitive market. Understanding legal nuances around worker classification is vital to ensure compliance and minimise risks, including financial penalties and significant brand damage.
Adapting to changing onboarding processes and a potential shift back to physical offices will be essential for candidates. Embracing technological advancements and upskilling will empower them to stand out in a talent market that may face scarcity.
Ultimately, organisations and candidates will benefit from a proactive and adaptable approach. By addressing these trends head-on, we can collectively shape a more inclusive, efficient, and successful talent landscape in 2024 and beyond.”