It’s too convenient, in these tumultuous times, to chalk up almost any shift in the way we live and work to the aftereffects of COVID-19. While it’s clear that this historic pandemic prompted many changes, a number of trends were already in motion, especially in the employment world. 2023 will see many of these trends reach their full effect.
Of particular note is a fundamental restructuring of the employer/employee relationship. For workers, COVID only accelerated their passion—and eventually their collective demand—for their working lives to be placed in a larger context. Employers, if they are to remain relevant amid a tight recruiting scene, are compelled to both respect and accommodate the needs, aspirations, and lifestyles of every individual.
As HR and recruiter teams begin setting their hiring strategies for the coming year, here are four tips to set everyone up for success:
Employers Must Prove Themselves
Even during this economic downturn, it’s a candidate’s market. Workers at every level have decided they don’t have to stay in jobs that make them unhappy. They’re looking for enjoyment, engagement, and fulfillment in their next job, whether or not they have another one lined up.
There are too many stories of employees with children who are chastised for leaving early to doctor’s appointments or managers who choose to omit legitimate equity concerns. When these people move on to their next company, they want to know—in no uncertain terms—the company’s mission, values, and commitment to workplace dignity and work/life relationship.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to millennial and Gen Z candidates either. Midcareer workers are embracing the same attitude. It’s showing clearly in interviews; never in the past have so many candidates taken charge of the discussion by asking about vision, leadership styles, and what the company stands for.
Companies must provide not only answers to these questions but also assurances they offer work environments people actually want to participate in. One increasingly popular strategy is smaller workgroups. At many firms, departments of hundreds of people are being broken up into collectives of 25–30 people to allow managers, teams, and individuals to improve communications and establish mutually beneficial solutions.
Adaptability Will Be Essential
The pandemic may have opened the floodgates to remote work, but that was just the beginning. Many things about “work life” have been quietly brewing beneath the surface, and now companies have no choice but to adapt.
Buzzy developments like “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” are merely the visible signs of rampant employee disengagement. Disengagement equals disinterest and complacency. To stop the trend, leadership needs to take responsibility by finding and implementing answers.
If a company wants to be more adaptable, it will have to begin by having conversations at the individual employee level. How much time do they want to be in the office? How much time working from home? How can performance objectives for both parties be met? Blanket solutions, except for perhaps legal requirements, won’t suffice in answering these questions.
Experiments like 4-day workweeks are one example of how to accommodate the work/life flow—but the larger issue is flexibility. Employees want to be managed by results. They don’t mind working on a Saturday if their daughter has a soccer game on Wednesday. Being heard in this regard has a strong impact; workers naturally produce more if they feel they’re being respected. Happy employees are productive employees, which means employers will need to think in new terms to accommodate the whole employee.
Mandates For Greater Transparency
California was only the most recent of several states to have passed laws mandating the inclusion of salary ranges in job postings. This is the right move toward greater pay equity across gender, race, and age. In the Golden State, employees will also be able to check on salary ranges for their position, which will allow them to ask about discrepancies and/or adjustments.
Transparency, however, shouldn’t and won’t be limited to financial matters. Workers deserve better access to information about day-to-day work expectations, corporate stability, major business initiatives, and opportunities to grow and progress in one’s career. Expectations are changing, and there is a shift in power toward employees’ right to know. Companies would be well advised to get out in front of this trend and to be seen as a leader, not an unwilling follower.
Recruiting Firms Must Emphasize Relationships
Much of what is happening affects employers, but recruiting firms are being impacted, as well. Closer relationships with both companies and candidates have become the key to success. Getting to know people, what they’re looking for, and what the career prospects are for a given position, as well as helping clients navigate today’s delicate and evolving employment situations, are increasingly important to long-term value.
Search firms must also realize their job doesn’t end when a candidate accepts the position. Recruiters must follow up once the person is settled in the new job, not only to make sure the person is happy but also to gain insights for improving future engagements.
In today’s rapidly evolving world of work, it’s important to remember that change can be enlivening. Even with a recession looming on the horizon, companies can take advantage of employment shifts and choose to see them as opportunities to grow, strengthen, and develop their workforces.
The employment dynamics of the past, all too often marked by impersonal directives with no empathy or understanding of what it takes for workers to do their jobs, simply won’t cut it anymore. Employers must step up their game significantly to be competitive in 2023 as new expectations and resolutions begin knocking at the door.
The act of recruiting, hiring, and retaining must be future-focused and personable to inspire and engage the best talent. These predictions, if taken seriously, are the stepping stones to achieving a thriving workplace one candidate at a time.
Noelle Federico is CEO of Delta Hire, LLC. She also serves as Director of Project Management for Bryn Law Group. An entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Federico is the founder of youth literacy nonprofit A Generous Heart, as well as consulting firm Fortunato Partners, Inc. A published author and Master Certified Professional Coach, she has more than three decades of executive experience across a range of industries, with a focus on finance, operations, and communications. Her social media brands, The Working Warrior Mom and Revealing Leaders, reach millions of people per month.
Steven Waudby is the senior recruiter of Delta Hire, LLC. A former professional basketball player and a lifelong networker, he found fast success in the staffing industry after transitioning from the world of professional sports. In 2021, Waudby joined the Delta Hire team to attract top-performing candidates with his consultative approach and unwavering commitment to results. In his role, he also serves as a mentor and leader to the others on his team and dedicates a great deal of his time to training new employees. Outside of his work at Delta Hire, Waudby can be found biking around his home state of Michigan, hiking, and spending as much time as possible with his family and his four-legged companion, Teddy.