Wed Jan 17 2024
Founders & Tech Leaders

Approaches to Talent Acquisition Leaders Must Adopt in 2024

Maryam Khurram
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As we venture into 2024, the landscape of talent acquisition is experiencing a transformative evolution. Leaders in recruitment are now navigating a terrain marked by both unique challenges and emerging opportunities.

This year is set to witness the integration of generative AI into recruitment processes, alongside a growing emphasis on sustainability as a key factor in enhancing an employer's appeal.

Yet, amidst these developments, the global economic landscape continues to shift dramatically, bringing to the fore the critical need for upskilling and reskilling. This change underscores an urgent requirement for businesses to fundamentally reassess their existing hiring and employee development strategies.

Such a recalibration is essential in a marketplace that increasingly values agility and continuous learning. For companies aiming to thrive in this dynamic environment, fostering a workforce that is both adaptable and perpetually evolving is not just beneficial but imperative for maintaining a competitive edge.

Central to these efforts is the formation of high-performing teams, often the driving force behind increased revenue, innovative product development, and industry leadership.

The question then arises: What is the initial step for an organization to create such high-performing teams in this new era of talent acquisition and development?

Top 4 Approaches to Building a Golden Team

1. Diversity as a Performance Game-Changer

In the modern workplace, embracing diversity is not just a nod to inclusivity but also a strategic business decision. Diversity here encompasses a broad spectrum, including age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural backgrounds, and educational levels.

Beyond its social justice and creative contributions, diversity has been shown to have a tangible impact on a company's financial health. Studies reveal that companies with diverse workforces tend to have a 35% higher likelihood of financial outperformance compared to their less diverse counterparts.

The impact of a diverse team extends beyond mere numbers. Such teams offer a wealth of perspectives, contributing to education and enlightenment among employees and clients alike.

They open doors to new ideas and previously unexplored customer demographics. In fact, businesses with higher diversity levels are about 70% more likely to break into new markets successfully. This expansion into new markets often correlates with increased audience reach and profitability, proving essential for sustained business growth.

  • The Role of Diversity in Driving Creativity and Innovation

The creative and innovative capabilities of a company are significantly enhanced by diversity. Bringing together individuals from varied backgrounds fosters a culture of unique problem-solving and ideation. Research supports this, indicating that companies committed to diversity are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders.

This diversity is not just internal but also reflected in external communications like advertising. Representation of diverse cultures and ethnicities in advertising resonates more effectively with customers, leading to improved market presence and a more diverse client base.

  • Professional Growth in a Diverse Environment

Professional development and career growth opportunities are crucial for today's workforce, particularly for millennials. An inclusive environment, rich in diverse ideas and practices, creates a workplace where employees feel valued and become active advocates for their company. This internal advocacy is crucial in attracting talented, ambitious professionals.

Research shows that about 64% of job seekers investigate a company's diversity and inclusion policies before applying, and a significant portion would opt out of applying to a company perceived as lacking in diversity.

Working within diverse teams not only exposes individuals to new skills and global networks but also enriches their professional journey. It leads to a broader understanding of the world, infusing different perspectives into each team member’s thought process. This diversity in thought and experience enhances decision-making, brainstorming, and overall workplace dynamics.

  • Diverse Teams and Decision-Making

Diverse teams are more effective in decision-making, outperforming non-diverse teams 87% of the time. They bring a broader range of perspectives and information, which is particularly beneficial in today's globalized economy.

Companies with diverse teams are more adept at understanding and catering to a varied customer base, increasing the likelihood of capturing new markets by 70%.

The importance of diversity in the workplace extends beyond social responsibility. It is a key driver of innovation, market expansion, and overall business success. Embracing diversity leads to richer perspectives, better decision-making, and ultimately, a more robust and successful business model.

2. Quality Must Take Center Stage in 2024

In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, we're witnessing a profound shift in the recruitment environment. Recall that in 2022, the job market witnessed an unprecedented movement, with over 50 million workers leaving their positions. This scenario forced hiring teams to adapt, often choosing candidates who, under normal circumstances, might not have advanced past the initial screening due to the scarcity of options.

Fast forward to 2024, and we're looking at a rejuvenated labor market brimming with potential. Hiring teams are now presented with fresh challenges. The expectation isn't just to fill positions but to find those exceptional “purple squirrel” candidates.

This is juxtaposed with the need to address the issues arising from employees who may have been hastily hired during the pandemic and are now underperforming or discontent.

The latter half of 2023 marked a notable shift in the hiring domain. According to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there's been a downward trend in both job vacancies and resignations.

This indicates a more cautious approach from employees about leaving their current roles, possibly due to unmet job satisfaction. Concurrently, job seekers are stepping up their efforts to secure positions, leading to a more competitive market. For hiring teams, this means adopting more proactive strategies like headhunting and exploring non-traditional avenues to scout talent.

As 2024 unfolds, it offers an opportunity to refine hiring and retention strategies. Organizations can now focus on quality hires, reflecting a more deliberate approach to workforce development. This also opens doors to leveraging advanced technology solutions that align with the goals for 2024, ensuring a robust and effective team is in place to drive the organization forward.

3. Hire for Growth and Advance in Technology

As businesses navigate an ever-changing economic landscape, the focus on hiring strategies and technological investments is more critical than ever. Companies are increasingly looking for employees who not only drive efficiency but also stimulate growth.

There's a noticeable uptick in the demand for talent in revenue-generating roles, particularly in areas like sales and performance marketing. Similarly, roles that enhance operational efficiency and technology leadership are becoming highly sought after.

With the sheer volume of applicants that businesses can receive daily, having the right tools to efficiently sift through the candidate pool is essential. This is where tools like hiring guides and scorecards come into play. They are invaluable in managing the qualitative aspects of hiring, helping to standardize interview processes, and reducing unconscious bias.

The trend of investing in technology, especially AI, is gaining momentum among many companies. A McKinsey study from 2018 highlighted this shift, noting that 40% of businesses reported allocating over 5% of their digital budgets to AI.

Fast forward to 2022, and this number increased significantly, with over half of the businesses reporting similar investment levels. Moreover, a substantial 63% of businesses anticipate a rise in their AI investment in the coming three years. This trend underscores the growing emphasis on not just AI technology but also on recruiting talent skilled in disruptive technologies.

4. From Rapid Hiring to Strategic Business Partnering

The role of Human Resources (HR) within organizations has undergone a significant evolution. From being primarily focused on rapid hiring during the Great Resignation, HR has shifted to a more strategic and bottom-line-oriented role.

This evolution necessitates that your hiring team not only becomes adept at talent acquisition but also excels in enhancing and promoting the employer brand to attract top-tier talent. It's worth noting that a whopping 75% of job seekers take an employer’s brand into serious consideration before applying for a job.

In this new paradigm, HR departments are encouraged to forge synergistic alliances with marketing and communications teams. The goal? To collaboratively develop and market a compelling employer brand.

Concurrently, HR needs to function as a strategic business partner, focusing on prioritizing investments in technology. This is crucial for building and maintaining a workforce that is not only competent for today's needs but also adaptable for future challenges.

10 HR Transformation Trends to Eye in 2024

The swift adoption of Generative AI, combined with the rising trend of a hybrid workforce comprising both humans and digital entities, is illustrating the timeless relevance of a statement by Intel's co-founder, Gordon Moore, who famously remarked, “Change has never been this fast and will never be this slow ever again.”

This sentiment is particularly resonant today, as we witness the growing apprehension among employees about becoming redundant, a phenomenon known as the Fear of Becoming Obsolete (FOBO).

Looking ahead to 2024, it's clear that the keys to success will lie in resilience, agility, and a willingness to embrace a “test and learn” methodology. This approach promises to steer businesses and individuals through these rapidly evolving times.

1. Meet Your AI Work Buddy in 2024

The year 2024 is poised to be a landmark year in the realm of Generative AI, fundamentally altering our approach to work and task delegation with the introduction of AI-powered "work buddies." This evolution marks the onset of specialized AI assistants working in tandem with humans across various fields.

Educators will receive support from tools like Class Companion for grading homework, architects will be aided by AI design assistants such as SketchPro, and Kahn Academy's online learners will have access to Kahnmigo, an AI tool designed to enhance their brainstorming abilities, thus improving their writing and learning skills while simultaneously reducing the administrative burden on teachers.

In the corporate sphere, Walmart has made significant strides by introducing one of the largest AI-powered assistants, My Assistant. This AI application is tailored to assist Walmart's 50,000 corporate employees in tasks such as summarizing lengthy documents, generating new content, and managing routine tasks that were previously handled by humans. Another major development is the impending launch of Microsoft’s Co-Pilot, which will integrate generative AI into Microsoft 365, elevating the performance level of workers.

Jared Spataro, the Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, envisions Microsoft Co-Pilot as a transformative tool for meetings, turning them from traditional gatherings into dynamic, knowledge-based sessions. With Co-Pilot, employees will be able to summarize meetings, gauge group sentiment on discussed topics, identify key dissenting opinions and outline agreed-upon next steps.

While these AI-powered assistants offer significant potential for enhancing efficiency and performance, their ultimate success will depend on human strategy and the ability to leverage their capabilities effectively.

2. Leading in an AI-Driven World

Generative AI has rapidly emerged as one of the most swiftly adopted technologies, with ChatGPT alone attracting nearly 200 million users since its launch on November 30, 2022. This rapid uptake presents a unique challenge for business and HR leaders who are trying to keep pace with its integration into the workplace.

The influence of Generative AI extends beyond just training employees in its use; it also involves guiding managers in leading a mixed team of humans and AI-based digital workers. According to Morgan Stanley, Generative AI is projected to impact around a quarter of all existing job roles today, a figure that is expected to increase to 44% in the next three years.

To navigate this shift, it’s imperative for companies and educational institutions to offer robust training programs on the use of Generative AI. This need for skill adaptation is anticipated to result in a $16 billion market focused on re-skilling workers who are displaced or affected by the rise of Generative AI.

As Generative AI continues to excel in problem-solving, the role of managers will evolve towards becoming more proficient in problem identification.

Managers will need to collaborate closely with both their human and digital team members, cultivating an environment that promotes continuous learning and emphasizes the importance of inherently human skills such as relationship building, communication, and collaboration. One certainty in this evolving landscape is that Generative AI will significantly influence o

rganizational change, affecting workflows, automating certain job functions, and creating new opportunities. However, the core of innovation will always rely on the synergy between human creativity and machine-based augmentation.

3. Turning AI Fear into Career Opportunity

While the potential for increased productivity with the use of Generative AI is recognized by employers, there's significant apprehension among employees about its impact on job security. According to a recent survey conducted by EY, a substantial 75% of employees express concerns about AI rendering certain jobs obsolete, and two-thirds fear the possibility of their jobs being replaced by AI.

This anxiety over becoming obsolete is prompting employees to actively seek training in using Generative AI and to acquire new skills to mitigate these fears. In response to this trend, PwC has announced a massive $1 billion investment in AI training for its workforce.

This program includes courses covering various aspects like AI ethics, responsible AI usage, and techniques for creating effective AI prompts. The objective is to engage and successfully guide 75,000 U.S. PwC employees through these courses.

In addition to AI-specific training, there's a growing trend of internal talent marketplaces within companies, especially as external recruitment poses ongoing challenges. These internal marketplaces are emerging as a primary method for connecting employees with opportunities for career growth within their current organizations.

A prime example of this is KeyBank’s Grow at Key, an AI-powered platform that's both employee-led and manager-supported, designed to facilitate internal talent mobility. Emphasizing the idea that every employee is in charge of their career trajectory, Grow at Key offers a suite of resources, including role matching, mentoring, coaching, and access to stretch assignments.

This initiative has led to a notable 60% increase in employee participation in training programs, with a third of KeyBank employees engaging in "Investing in My Development" sessions to better navigate their career paths.

4. Hybrid Work Wins for Business

It's time for companies to embrace the reality that hybrid work is not just a trend, but the new standard for many knowledge workers as 2024 approaches.

An extensive ADP survey involving 32,000 workers revealed a telling statistic: 64% of these employees would contemplate quitting if they were required to return to full-time office work.

This preference for flexibility is not just about employee satisfaction; it's also linked to business performance. Research, including studies by Boston Consulting Group and Scoop Technologies Inc., involving 554 public companies with a collective workforce of 26.7 million, demonstrates that companies adopting a "fully flexible" model—either entirely remote or offering employees a choice of when to come to the office—saw a 21% increase in sales from 2020 to 2022, after adjusting for industry differences.

Companies more open to remote work not only experienced faster hiring and expanded their talent pool geographically but also enjoyed higher employee retention rates.

As hybrid working models become commonplace, it's crucial for leadership to address proximity bias. This bias favors those who work in person for career advancement opportunities, mentorship, and significant projects, often to the detriment of remote workers.

To make hybrid work truly effective, leaders need to ensure fairness for all employees, granting autonomy to team leaders to decide the when and where of work, rather than adhering to a top-down, CEO-driven mandate. It’s important for leaders to recognize that being physically present in the office doesn't necessarily correlate with higher performance.

The focus should shift from traditional "management by walking around" to a more inclusive approach of "managing by connecting across geographies," ensuring that all team members, regardless of their work location, are engaged and valued equally.

5. The New Workforce Mix

Gone are the days when the term 'blended workforce' referred simply to a mix of full-time and part-time employees. Today's workforce is a diverse amalgam comprising full-time employees, part-time staff, teams of contractors, contingent workers, and digital workers, with the latter specifically designed to complement certain human tasks.

This shift is reflected in the changing workforce statistics. According to Statista, while the number of part-time workers has risen from 20 million in 1990 to 26 million in 2022, contingent workers are projected to constitute half of the U.S. workforce by 2027.

Although the concept of a blended workforce isn't new, its composition has significantly evolved. A notable change is the increasing reliance on contingent workers for key job roles. In today's global organizations, contingent workers can comprise anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total workforce.

For instance, the MIT Sloan Management Review highlighted that Novartis's workforce includes 110,000 full-time employees alongside 50,000 contractors and temporary workers. Similarly, Cisco employs 83,000 full-time staff and over 50,000 contingent workers.

This evolving workforce ecosystem necessitates new management practices and leadership approaches. A recent HBR Analytical Services survey found that while 81% of companies acknowledge the importance of contingent workers, only 38% believe they are effective at managing this segment of their workforce.

To effectively navigate this new landscape, leaders must recognize and integrate the diverse contributions of human and digital workers, both full-time and contingent.

A comprehensive workforce strategy is essential, where HR plays a pivotal role in coordinating the various cross-functional disciplines involved in hiring both internal and external workers. This strategy must be adept at seamlessly integrating these diverse workforce elements to achieve organizational goals.

6. The Four-Day Work Week

The traditional norms surrounding our work schedules, the nature of our jobs, and workplace demographics are undergoing a significant transformation as we approach 2024. One notable shift is in the perception of the conventional five-day workweek.

A study involving 1,301 workers reveals a growing desire for flexible working hours among both front-line and knowledge workers. Specifically, 41% of participants from both groups expressed a preference for flexible work schedules, and a significant majority — 56% of front-line workers and 69% of knowledge workers — are in favor of a four-day workweek without a reduction in pay.

Reflecting on a Forbes column, a pilot program in the UK involving 61 companies tested the four-day work week, with 56% of these companies planning to continue this schedule, citing improved productivity and reduced employee turnover. These companies adopted the 80-100-100 model, reducing work hours to 80% of the standard week while maintaining full pay and productivity.

In the US, similar experiments are taking place. For example, certain Chick-Fil-A outlets are offering front-line workers the chance to work three consecutive 13-hour shifts with full pay, leading to increased staff retention and sustained customer service efficiency.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that the shortened work week is not a universal solution. Companies need to embrace a “test and learn approach,” carefully considering the specific changes necessary, the extent of training required for employees and managers, and the kind of support needed for well-being in these new working models.

7. Boosting Cognitive Skills in the AI Age

The World Economic Forum forecasts that 44% of core skills required for workers will evolve over the next five years. Among the key skills identified for the future, cognitive abilities stand out, highlighting a growing demand for creative and analytical thinking in the age of AI.

This increase in importance is coupled with the need for technological literacy, resilience, flexibility, curiosity, and a commitment to lifelong learning — all indicative of a continued focus on lifelong learning in leadership.

With the rising prominence of Generative AI, a critical skill is becoming increasingly vital: digital curiosity. This involves actively seeking and utilizing new and emerging digital technologies to enhance cognitive skills.

8. Financial Wellness, a Top Benefit in 2024

As we head into 2024, holistic financial well-being emerges as a critical employee benefit, given the increasing financial strain among workers. LendingClub's report indicates a concerning trend: 61% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, lacking essential financial literacy skills, and this includes over half of those earning $100,000 annually.

Recognizing this growing issue, Unifi, a prominent player in aviation services with a workforce exceeding 23,000, initiated a novel program two years ago. This program was designed to give frontline workers immediate access to their earned wages. Since its inception, the program has evolved into a comprehensive financial well-being package.

Currently, nearly 20% of Unifi's frontline staff are participating, benefiting from a range of complimentary services such as anonymous financial coaching and personalized saving plans. Dr. Archana Arcot, Unifi's Chief People Officer, asserts that the primary aim of this initiative is to alleviate financial stress for employees and integrate financial wellness into their daily lives.

This focus on financial well-being is not just about alleviating economic hardship but also about improving mental health. MetLife's survey found that nearly half of the workers attribute their poor mental health to financial worries.

In response, Unifi implemented a Goal-Based Savings program, which has been remarkably successful, catapulting the company into the top 1% in terms of savings, with over $10,000 saved year-to-date, as per Payactiv’s report.

Through such holistic financial well-being programs, companies like Unifi are enhancing the overall employee experience, embedding financial wellness into their value proposition as employers, and thereby positioning themselves more attractively in a competitive job market.

9. Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, the 2024 C-Suite Trend

The past decade has witnessed the emergence of various new roles in the C-suite, ranging from Chief Medical Officer to Chief Ethics Officer. However, the role of the Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO) is becoming increasingly crucial as organizations seek guidance on formulating policies and guidelines for the safe and ethical use of generative AI in the workplace.

LinkedIn's findings indicate a significant gap in this area, with 44% of organizations globally and 57% in the U.S. lacking policy guidelines or training for the use of these novel AI tools in their operations.

To address this need, organizations are beginning to introduce a key player into their C-suite: the Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer.

Research conducted by Foundry, an IDG company, reveals that 11% of mid-size to large organizations have already appointed someone to this role, and an additional 21% are actively searching for suitable candidates.

The CAIO's role is gaining prominence as businesses seek to formulate AI strategies, establish governance practices, and promote the safe, ethical, and responsible use of generative AI across various functions.

This trend is further corroborated by a survey from Wavestone, which highlights that while 61.7% of Data and AI leaders currently see the responsibility for Generative AI as falling under the Chief Data Officer (CDO), there is a growing movement towards creating a distinct CAIO role.

Organizations are increasingly recognizing the need for a dedicated leader to oversee AI developments and implementations within their structure. As Randy Bean, an Innovation Fellow at Wavestone, points out, the CAIO's role will be a significant focus in 2024, reflecting the growing importance and impact of AI technologies in the corporate world.

10. Sustainability Draws and Keeps Talent

In today's competitive talent marketplace, climate change and sustainability are emerging as pivotal challenges for current and future generations. This shift in focus is evident in the actions of several leading publicly traded companies.

For instance, tech giants like Alphabet, Apple, Cisco, and PayPal are not only producing annual sustainability reports but are also actively investing in environmentally and socially responsible initiatives. Alphabet has notably dedicated its entire $5.57 billion Sustainability Bond to projects focused on clean energy, clean transportation, and circular economy design.

The commitment to sustainability is increasingly becoming a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. According to research from the IBM Institute for Business Value, a significant 70% of workers and job seekers are inclined toward companies that demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Furthermore, nearly half of these individuals are even willing to accept a lower salary to work for organizations that prioritize environmental and social responsibility. Gartner anticipates that employers will further this commitment by incorporating climate change protections into their employee benefits, such as providing shelter during natural disasters.

The focus on sustainability is also gaining momentum in academic institutions. A growing number of universities are setting ambitious goals to integrate sustainability into their curricula, campus operations, and financial endowments.

The University of Toronto, which ranks first among 1,400 universities for its environmental and social impact, is pioneering efforts to decarbonize its campus by 2050, develop energy-efficient student centers, and commit to climate-responsible construction practices.

Moreover, the Global Business School Network, encompassing 150 business schools across 50 countries, is initiating new programs for universities to exchange innovative sustainability practices.

While both corporate and academic sectors are making strides in sustainability, there is a clear opportunity for enhanced collaboration between these entities.

As employees and students increasingly consider the environmental impact of their employer and educational institutions, sustainability becomes a shared concern that requires combined efforts from both the business and educational spheres to develop effective solutions.

Bottom Line

The role of talent acquisition leaders in 2024 transcends traditional boundaries, embodying a blend of innovator, strategist, and visionary. Their ability to integrate cutting-edge technologies like generative AI, prioritize sustainability, and emphasize continuous learning will set the tone for the future of work.

These leaders are not just filling positions; they are sculpting the workforce of tomorrow, fostering a culture that thrives on agility, inclusivity, and adaptability. Their success will not only define organizational growth but also shape the trajectory of the global job market in this era of rapid transformation.

This article is a part of The Disruptor - Leaders in Tech Edition for January 2024. For more related articles and insightful knowledge, download The Disruptor today!

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