For years, talent acquisition has been a priority and most competitive organisations understand the value of a good talent acquisition strategy. What we are increasingly seeing when we work with talent acquisition teams is that while companies have shifted to hybrid and remote work, this new way of working is not always best represented in existing strategies. In a digitally transformed world, the focus on trust and results has become far more important than it was when employees simply had to clock in and clock out of offices, under the watchful eyes of managers.
We are often working closely with clients to determine how this is impacting the way talent is sourced, and who is selected for key roles. Specifically, it’s important for employers to understand what matters to candidates these days. It’s an ever-evolving space.
Employees are prioritising flexibility and compensation. Employers must support flexible, hybrid and remote working arrangements—this much we know already, and it is reiterated by what we’re seeing in the market. But the key is to ensure talent acquisition strategies to match.
Hard versus soft skills: where is your focus?
A successful talent acquisition strategy starts with a thorough understanding of your organisation’s needs. According to LinkedIn, 88% of recruiting professionals in Australia and New Zealand say talent acquisition has become a more strategic function over the past year in order to address this new operating landscape.
We have seen that the best strategies involve designing the organisational structure, identifying skill sets, and addressing areas where there may be a skills shortage. Where this becomes more complex in a hybrid world is understanding which roles will be predominantly office-based, home-based or a mix of both, and the specific hard and soft skills that support a hybrid working environment.
For example, our clients frequently share with us that one of the most important skill sets today, that was not as critical pre-pandemic, is the ability to work collaboratively across different work functions, in person and on collaboration platforms. This is driven by familiarity with technology and the capacity to comfortably learn new systems. Previously, this was a soft skill that was not necessarily central to a talent acquisition strategy. But as we know, it is a vital characteristic in a trust-based working environment where employees are focused on their deliverables as individuals and teams.
There is also a critical link between skills and business critical transformation, because the digital transformation that almost every organisation is currently undergoing is not just about technology. Successful transformation is achieved when the right people are on that journey, because ultimately, transformation is about change. Innovative, adaptable people will drive the results you want in your business in both the short term and long term, and so these skills should also be central to a modern talent acquisition strategy. It’s a trend that the entire industry is noticing. 96% of respondents to LinkedIn’s The Future of Recruiting 2023 ANZ edition agree that understanding which skills employees do and don’t have is necessary to make informed talent decisions.
Since 63% of respondents also predict that the future of recruiting will be more favourable to candidates and employees (as opposed to employers) over the next five years, designing a talent acquisition strategy that stands out from competitors, can attract those skills, and bring them into the organisation.
Attracting top talent in a new age
Core to any talent acquisition strategy is understanding not only what skills your business needs but what top talent is looking for. We’re seeing that environments that better support new ways of working are where talented individuals are gravitating towards.
According to recent Seek candidate research (Flexible Working Candidate Insights – June 2023), two-thirds of candidates agree having flexibility in a job is crucial. It allows them to have more control over their work-life balance, enabling them to better balance their personal obligations, boost productivity and reduce stress.
They also understand how quickly things are changing. They want their skill sets to stay ahead of the game and they appreciate workplaces that support that level of adaptability and growth. Employee value propositions (EVPs) should increasingly address the work environment; how people within the business are supporting critical business developments, and how they in turn are given the right tools and technology to do their jobs.
In line with this is an understanding of what is increasingly important for individuals. Within Paxus, we don’t only talk about hybrid workplaces, but hybrid people as well. The best talent today combines maturity, work ethic, innovation, adaptability, and a host of other hard and soft skills. The pandemic did not only bring hybrid working to the fore. With it has come an expectation of work life balance and the ability to share and learn from colleagues in an unprecedented way.
Millennials and Gen Z are working side by side, learning from each other, with Gen Z employees often mentoring on hard skills and millennials sharing their expectations for a transformed workplace. The result? Everyone benefits, particularly with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, which is also a top consideration for employer brands.
Looking forward for future-focused success
What’s most interesting about this developing landscape is how all these elements work together. We know that non-traditional job roles are emerging as a result of digitisation, and we don’t know what the next one to five years will bring. It takes teams of people coming from all walks of life working together to find solutions that suit current needs and challenges—and things are changing all the time. For example, within a relatively short period of time, people went from never expecting to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney to becoming prompt experts. We can’t say for sure what hard skills will be the most in-demand over the next few years. But we do know that talent acquisition strategies that continually adapt to current needs and determine which soft skills support organisational growth, are important.
On a regular basis, we are witnessing how organisations are attracting top talent when they factor all these elements into their strategy. The people who want to be at the forefront of new skills and ways of working gravitate to organisations that are clearly future-focused. If a talent acquisition strategy is outdated and no longer fit for purpose, how can a business demonstrate that the rest of the organisation is forward thinking? These are the conversations we are having with our clients as we help pave the way for an exciting future.
Anna Rodriguez is the Head of Talent Solutions at Paxus, advising clients and leading the delivery of customised recruitment process support, including RPO, Volume Recruitment, End-to-End or Unbundled support and more. Find more information on Paxus Talent Solutions here.