Following two years of pandemic-over-hiring, layoffs, and ongoing shifts in the workplace, largely influenced by inflation and geopolitical turmoil, 2024 will be a year of transformations in HR. Reports suggest that nearly two-thirds of CEOs expect a full-time return to the office in the near future, while others place increased importance on hybrid arrangements to rebuild organisational culture and attract talent. Simultaneously, employers are placing increased emphasis on skills in their hiring decisions. The transformative impact of AI on work processes underscores the essential role of upskilling for sustained success. For candidates, it's imperative to make significant decisions about where, how, and what they want to pursue in their career. For businesses, it’s important to adapt to new trends, embrace the role of technology in HR and find strategies to attract and retain top talent.
1. Data-Driven Hiring and AI
Contrary to expectations, AI is poised to create, rather than diminish workforce opportunities, as long as both individuals and organisations adapt to these tools and focus on upskilling.
For candidates, it’s important to consider how AI tools will impact their career and the skills they’ll need to learn to keep up. On another hand, from a job search perspective, candidates can take advantage of AI tools like eikko for:
- Trimming job search activity: candidates will have more data-driven AI-powered tools available in the market, in which job search becomes much easier, faster and transparent; cutting the noise out, just the relevant jobs according to their career goals, profile and potential.
For HR Technology, the influence of AI is particularly positive. Taking an insider look at platforms like eikko, we see how the integration of data analytics and AI not only empowers recruiters to target the most qualified candidates but also plays a crucial role in mitigating unconscious bias throughout the hiring process:
- Increased efficiency and accuracy: Automated screening tools like eikko can help recruiters filtering through applications much faster and more accurately freeing up their time for in-depth evaluations and minimising the chances of overlooking qualified candidates.
- Streamlined workflows: These platforms can also automate many tasks involved in the hiring process, such as personalisation of pre-screening questions, interview scheduling (…).
- Improved visibility: These platforms can provide recruiters with not only active but also passive candidates, allowing them to track candidates and identify potential matches.
- Predicting candidate fit: Using AI to predict how well a candidate is likely to fit with a particular job, company culture and team can help recruiters avoid costly mistakes in hiring candidates that do not align.
2. Less remote, more hybrid
The ongoing debate about flexible and remote work continues, with an increasing number of companies incorporating a hybrid approach into their strategies. This shift is aimed at reinstating a sense of work culture, fostering meaningful connections within teams, enhancing relationships among peers and cross-functional teams, building bonds, boosting trust, and facilitating real-time collaboration. This transition, often referred to as a "trial" by some CEOs in major US tech companies, is a response to the changes brought about by the pandemic.
According to a KPMG study, CEOs are expressing strong support for returning to pre-pandemic ways of working, with a majority (64% globally and 63% in the UK) predicting a full return to in-office work within the next three years. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that “this isn’t a one-size fits all approach” with particular businesses, considering their unique circumstances and needs, opting to remain hybrid as a useful way to attract and retain top talent in a competitive market.
One thing is for real: remote work is here to stay, but not for 100% of workforce or every day of the week. Employees will continue to demand what was a perk before Covid and what was once called the “new normal” from Covid onwards. Extreme arguments from both sides will continue but we believe the hybrid scenario, with scheduled flexibility, will be the middle ground for which most of the companies and employees are willing to settle.
3. “One-size-fits-all” is not working
Traditional methods no longer work. To thrive, attract and keep talent, companies need to adapt to diverse talent, different compensation preferences, and flexible work structures tailored to individual needs.
- Diverse people, diverse requirements: 2024 is predicted to be a pivotal year for DEI (Diversity, equity and inclusion). This means that business leaders will see DEI not just as a task they complete but as a way to improve their performance in achieving important goals.
- Balance expectations, compensation and benefits: according to HBR, organisations looking to attract and retain talent will have to offer creative benefits to the address the costs of hybrid and remote work. Housing subsidies, caregiver benefits and financial well-being programs are some examples.
- Flexible work structures (eg.: 4 days working week): A 2023 Gartner survey revealed 63% of candidates rated “four-day workweek for the same pay” as the top new and innovative benefit that would attract them to a job. Recent pilots highlight benefits for productivity and well-being.
4. Focus on skills instead of degrees
The push for skills-based hiring will continue, after 2023 being the European Year of Skills by the EU, which has considered pivotal the focus on this approach. Skills-based hiring means evaluating candidates based on their competencies, rather than on where they went to school. The goal is to hire the person most capable of doing the job, and not the one with just a college degree.
Now, with the help of AI-driven platforms like eikko, applicants have the opportunity to showcase their skills on their experience, education and projects helping companies find the right talent with the exact skills they need.
Major companies including Google and Accenture have already removed degree requirements from their jobs as traditional qualifications are not enough. Other companies like Amazon are even establishing their own internal "universities" to cultivate the necessary skills within their workforce. LinkedIn uses screening questions and skills assessments in job posts to vet candidates.
What can skills-based hiring do for your organisation?
- Identify the most qualified candidates
- Increase diversity and promote inclusivity
- Find new, untapped candidates
5. Product, culture, values, ESG matter more than ever
In 2024, HR strategies are undergoing a transformative shift, responding to the evolving priorities of the workforce, particularly driven by Generation Z's heightened focus on climate change. Forward-thinking organisations are set to integrate direct climate change protections into their benefit offerings, showcasing a commitment to sustainability. This extends beyond financial compensation, with a recognition of the broader impact on employees and their communities.
Gen Z and millennial employees prioritise alignment of values and culture with their employer. For these generations, who are driven by values, the opportunity to influence social change (whether it’s on product development or in areas related to mental health and well-being) holds significant weight in recruitment and retention. Approximately 44% of Gen Z and 37% of millennials have declined assignments due to ethical considerations. Moreover, 39% of Gen Z and 34% of millennials have refused job offers from companies that do not resonate with their values.
6. Double-Edged Sword: Balancing AI & Automation in a Responsible Recruitment Landscape
While these technologies hold immense potential to improve efficiency, accuracy, and speed, ethical considerations and potential risks cannot be ignored. Past errors in the industry shall not be perpetuated in the upcoming AI-powered tools, as there is more awareness and knowledge abou the topic, guard-rails are being set in place, and tools to detect and mitigate bias are becoming more accessible to everyone. We believe the intricate dance between responsible AI, diversity and inclusion will continue this year at the same pace as the adoption of LLMs and GenAI in general.
Harnessing the Power
The focus on productivity and process efficiency will be exacerbated with the advancement in new AI technologies, e.g. Generative AI (GenAI). Studies like Annual PWC's CEO Survey highlight the staggering administrative burden in hiring (40%, according to CEOs surveyed), putting pressure on companies to increase their output as fast as possible. AI-powered screening, scheduling, and communication tools, for instance, can free up resources, allowing recruiters to focus on building relationships and strategic talent acquisition. GenAI can personalize and contextualise job descriptions, attracting the right talent based on specific roles and company culture. This fosters a more human-centric approach to recruitment.
Mitigating the Risks
Algorithmic bias is a real concern, with potential to perpetuate inequalities and exclude diverse talent. We must advocate for explainable AI solutions, fostering transparency and building trust in the hiring process, which is what is starting to happen in the AI R&D community.
Human connection will always be crucial in a successful hiring process. Although the push for productivity and the adoption of AI, those tools and technologies are not a replacement, but an augmentation; human judgment and emotional intelligence remain crucial for a thorough cultural fit, leadership potential, and soft skills assessment.
The future of hiring belongs to those who can responsibly leverage AI and automation while remaining committed to human values and ethical principles. By striking this balance, we can build an ecosystem that is efficient, diverse, and truly benefits both organisations and individuals.
7. Candidate experience (CX): a way to get candidates
In today's competitive job market, job seekers hold the cards, not only due to historical low unemployment rates but also because of societal transformations towards work and careers, influenced by younger generations and technology. With information readily available and diverse opportunities at their fingertips, they are more demanding than ever. This shift needs a strategic focus on candidate experience (CX), making it a crucial element in successful hiring strategies.
A 2023 US survey from staffing agency Insight Global found that recently unemployed full-time workers had applied to an average of 30 jobs, only to receive an average of four callbacks or responses. Moreover, 55% of unemployed adults are burned out from searching for a new job. A 2023 study conducted by eikko about how 40 top companies in Portugal perform in attracting, engaging and converting talent, revealed that 70% of the applications lacked feedback regarding the application and its outcome. Lack of feedback leaves candidates in a state of uncertainty, creates a negative experience, which can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a poor perception of the employer.
One possible explanation for this is that HR teams are overwhelmed by the amount of applications they get partially because of technology. Think about how easy it is to submit an application, which do not translate necessarily into good fits.