2022 Review: a perfect storm

A review of the years’ biggest trends affecting recruitment and retention.

The Great ‘unretirement’

The current cost of living crisis has meant that many older workers have ‘unretired’ and made the move back into work. At one level you can’t blame them but this does have an impact on the workforce in that many roles are not being freed up, preventing it being filled from the bottom with those getting on the career ladder.

The office rules, or does it?

You would think that with rising domestic bills those who have been working remotely for the last couple of years would be rushing back to the office to use the company’s light, power and heat. Not a bit of it.

Funny how last year employers were offering great incentives and benefits to workers to stay away and work remotely – whether that was near the office or not. Now, they want us all back again!

Convenience is beating the cost of fuel to get to the workplace, which means we are all still staying away. Yes, we will go back to the office, but only if you pay all our travelling costs…

Flexible Working

Apparently, a quarter of all workers would prefer a role with fully flexible hours, allowing them to do their work hours when they chose, not when the company says. Slightly less want to work core hours and then work flexibly either side of this. For customer facing roles full flexibility could be an interesting concept!

However, employees see it differently and seem less keen on fully flexible roles and more enthusiastic about core hours.

Quiet quitting

If your are not getting what they want they can always quit quietly. This, it seems, is where your employees turn up for work and do no more than the minimum their job requires and they need to do to keep said job. Quiet quitting indeed. Recent polls have suggested that up to one in three UK workers have admitted doing it.

Reasons for this can be myriad from stress, a need for more work life balance, running a second job, looking for a move or just plain unhappiness with their role. Whatever the reason, this can’t be healthy for an organisation.

Pay and conditions: cost of living crisis

The ONS has just released its latest Labour Market statistics which show the second largest fall in real wage growth since records began in 2001. Not surprising with inflation at 10% plus but wage increases reaching half this or less.

In the private sector pay growth has averaged 6% plus this year, but in the public sector it is under 3%. No wonder we are seeing wall to wall strikes at the moment in the public sector and I can’t see how it is going to end anytime soon. The tax pot can only afford so much and, whilst 5% looks fair, the unions are having none of it. As ever, the losers are those that use the services…

The effect of this is that workers are leaving the public sector or are reluctant to join it, resulting in record vacancies across all areas.

The private sector doesn’t get off lightly either with a third of employees saying they will be looking for a new role in January with a bigger salary.

War for talent

Yes, it’s back! This is a great expression and neatly sums up the skills shortages in the UK and the need for businesses to ‘go to war’ to find and attract talent for their businesses, as well as retain it. I can’t remember when it was first used but it must have been in the noughties (or earlier) and has since come back to haunt businesses many times. A good time to be a candidate looking for a new role, although the storm clouds of an approaching recession may reduce the number of vacancies available.

Company values and culture

Retention and recruitment continue to be high priorities for most employers this year but with mixed messages about what candidates want - or demand - from a role, this has made it difficult for some to attract, or retain, employees.

Those that are thinking of moving are now more demanding of what they want from an employer and what that employer stands for. If they don’t feel aligned, then it is a non-starter!

Stress and the modern world

The curse of the modern age and one that takes up a lot of column inches in articles, seminars, workshops and the HR department. Everyone is under pressure at work and at home which doesn’t make for a happy and engaged workforce. Throw in all the demands and conditions affecting an employee, both in and out of work, and you can see why burnout and shutdown are the order of the day.

This, unfortunately, can make it hard for productivity to be high when your workforce lacks engagement and feels undervalued as well as underpaid.

The perfect storm indeed.