There’s no denying that the workforce has undergone a complete transformation. 

Organisations have embraced the flexible work revolution, spurred by the shifting priorities of millennial and Gen Z workers, but mostly recently by the current work from home shift due to the global pandemic. 

At the same time, digital platforms and automation are changing the entire employment landscape — rendering some jobs obsolete, while creating demand for new positions and future skills.

But beyond automation and embracing work-life balance, there are a host of other forces shaping our workplaces. From greater diversity in the workplace to balancing data collection and employee trust, we take a look at some of the biggest trends in recruitment and human resources (HR) today.

1. Embracing people with disabilities in the workplace

Despite conversations around diversity in the workplace, people with disability remain overlooked and underrepresented in Australian organisations.

According to the Australian Network on Disability, over 4.4 million Australians have some form of disability. More than half of these Australians are of working age. However, AIHW reports that people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to those without.

Workers with disability can add an incredible amount of value to an organisation; yet many companies have yet to tap into this pool of talent.

To create more inclusive workforces, employers should look to invest in accessible technologies, rethink physical work spaces, and keep diversity top of mind with internal ability committees. At the same time, hiring managers can work closely with Disability Employment Services to create and shape jobs for those with disability.

2. Adapting to the older generation

Australia’s population is ageing. While recruitment trends have regularly focused on catering to millennial and Gen Z talent, organisations need to better cater to the older workforce in order to thrive in the future.

Older workers offer a wealth of experience but may require upskilling or reverse mentoring to develop specific skill sets. Companies can also adapt to take on older workers by offering more flexible work arrangements outside the traditional 9 to 5.

3. Balancing data collection and employee privacy

As the global data privacy challenge continues, more employees are growing concerned about how their personal information is being collected and used by employers. And with more organisations embracing HR analytics, protecting employee data will be key to build trust from employees. 

Moving forward, businesses need to be transparent around the collection of employee data: namely, what is being collected and why, and who controls it. 
At the same time, HR teams need to integrate and have the right systems in place to balance data use and data privacy.

4. Creating an adaptable workforce

One of the key challenges that have emerged in recent years is the need for the average employee to possess greater applied technology skills. Upskilling and reskilling employees are crucial if employers want to build an adaptable and resilient workforce that can withstand rapid technological shifts. 

Simultaneously, employers should invest in developing soft skills to tackle challenges posed by automation. Self-awareness, empathy and creativity are future of work skills that employees will need to hone, in order to better navigate the work environment of the future.

What’s driving change in HR?

What factors are driving change in recruitment and retention for human resources? Here are some of the most significant trends we’re seeing at the moment.

Predictive analytics stops trouble in its tracks

What if there was a power metric that could help HR leaders uncover the perfect ‘cultural fit’ among potential job applicants? Or a model that indicated in advance where your team’s critical skills gaps were before they became an issue? No longer exclusive to election campaign planners or front-line sports managers, the money-ball world of predictive analytics has the potential to see an HR earthquake coming – giving savvy adopters knowledge of when their talent risk spikes. 

‘EX’ marks the new business driver

As companies continue seeking roles that more closely align HR with business goals, the long-hailed Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) function is being urged to widen its focus from the customer experience (or CX), to also embrace the employee experience (EX) as a key business driver.

Talent acquisition rewrites its rules

Businesses in talent-squeezed markets are challenging the rules of engagement for talent acquisition (TA) in order to maximise results. One example, IBM’s AgileTA, has systematically challenged the norms of traditional acquisition, emphasising top priority work (“not all requisitions are created equal”); transparency with hiring managers (progress is now visualised and updated); and the ability to adapt and innovate (bottlenecks are quickly tracked and fixed). AgileTA reportedly reduces cancellation rates of requisitions by 75%, and average cycle time by nearly 50%.

Data and tech specialists for an AI-driven field

As more companies implement new cloud-based HR systems and data solutions, the field is seeing a spike in demand for human resource information system (HRIS) specialists, combining specific IT and HR knowledge to help drive system change and implementation. Likewise, the field sees rising demand for those who grasp the intrinsic numbers driving a business and can describe the data story to the business. As such, data-driven HR roles are growing, as clients explore digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI).

8 tips for hiring and retaining the best talent

As the HR industry becomes increasingly candidate-short, there is even more of an art to finding and holding on to the right people. We spoke to regional recruitment experts about what it takes to hire and retain top talent in today’s market.

1. Hire specialist skill sets that fit your company’s change journey

As Aon’s Catherine Ng says, the important part of hiring specialist HR talent to help drive change, is to carefully match their skillsets to the stage of your company’s change process. “At the early part of a change process, the kind of talent I need is very different from a later stage. Early on, there’s a lot of need for these people to come in as the change catalysts: it’s about stakeholder management, storytelling, and driving changes,” she notes. “At the later and more mature stages, that’s where broad-based hiring of people with the more technical skillsets comes – to implement those digital changes.” She cautions that getting it wrong can lead to mismatched roles and expectations, resulting in the brave new hire heading for the exit. A common place for mistakes? “Where an organisation’s culture is not as pervasive yet: and the company is quick to hire a lot more on-the-ground implementation folks,” she notes. “That’s where a disconnect will come in, and they will quickly become disengaged, and leave the company.”

2. HR change-makers now assess the full company package

Our digital environment demands increasing transparency from companies, as new-generation employees seek productive, engaging and enjoyable working experiences. In turn, companies increasingly face the need for an integrated focus on the entire work experience: “This involves building the right programmes, strategies and HR teams to improve the working experience,” says PageGroup’s Greg Tadman. “According to Deloitte, organisations with a strong focus on training, improved work spaces and greater reward systems, will, in turn, excel in their company performance.” In a candidate-short market, progressive employers not only sell their business and brand to customers, but also to the best candidates. Grace Lee notes that the corporate website, employee branding on LinkedIn, and implementing smooth mobile application systems are all now “a crucial part of the employee experience life cycle”.

3. Master the culture clash for people analytics hires

Employer engagement professionals such as Aon’s Catherine Ng work closely with big data or people analytics teams: and has a front-row seat on the talent race. “There is a war for such talent out there. In the relative scheme of things, HR might be a late starter in terms of the development of these capabilities – and the pressure for this kind of talent is high right now,” she notes. What do these hot hires bring to a company? “People with the required skillsets of big data and analytics have moved into a more agile way of working – so the mindset is a lot more open, and they’re a lot more receptive to change.” Many coming into HR big data and people analytics come from a technology culture, she says, whereas the demand is often from finance: “For many financial institutions requiring talent, we sometimes see a really big clash,” says Ng. “There are still fairly traditional ways, a lot of systems, regulations and governance in the financial industry – which is very different from technology.”

4. Drive to cultural fit for HR talent by re-enacting the job

When you’re seeking to bring in an HR agent of change to articulate and leverage your company culture, achieving the right cultural fit becomes all the more critical. Yet objective measures aside, there’s also the need to assess long-term thinking and positive motivations. In many organisations however, psychometric tests are reserved for C-level hires. Asks Julie Yeh: “How do you measure the unmeasurable, which is personality?” Research now attests to the benefit of job simulation tests, including a number of web-based solutions that are inexpensive and use objective benchmarks to measure the candidate fit. “If you have a role, and you need some proof as to the ability of someone, give them a real scenario case study,” she advises. After suitable consideration, candidates then get to pitch their approach back to you: “You’re then seeing the thought-process – the flow of how they think and approach a problem,” notes Yeh. “This is relatively hard to prep for – you either have it or you don’t.”

5. To sell the role, don’t spare the hard parts

Being transparent and frank with candidates is always the best policy: and as Lisa Zheng notes, the results can be surprising. Recently enlisted by an international client to seek a China HR director, she knew the company had faced financial difficulties outside of China. One candidate seemed a perfect fit, yet was concerned about the company’s prospects. After several rounds of interviews, the candidate accepted the opportunity, thanks to the company’s APAC HR director taking a frank yet encouraging approach to the concerns: “The opportunities and challenges of its China business left a good impression on my candidate and finally made her confident in the role and the company.” As Zheng notes, a vigilant consultant can also help hiring managers gather important insights. “Unlike Sales, HR candidates may not be able to present specific numbers to prove their performance.” Ideally, she notes, work with a partner who helps you to recheck market references, to ensure a detailed and factual candidate profile.

6. Contract problem-solvers to the rescue

In Human Resources, specialist contract roles are increasingly being created to fill numerous short-term gaps. The industry now has numerous talent-related projects around engagement, diversity and talent management, many with an expiry date of 6-12 months. HR contractors are likewise often utilised for HR maternity leave coverage. 

The benefit for the client is the flexibility to upscale and downscale when they like. Recent HR contract roles have included talent acquisition; learning and development projects; HR analyst and reporting projects and maternity covers. Candidates likewise enjoy higher rates for the contract duration – and in return the premium of facing an immediate start date.

7. Prioritise mobility across borders

In a big company and a dynamic market, remember that your available talent pool stretches beyond city and national borders: as such, building a culture of mobility can provide for critical cover, and in turn offer unique development opportunities for the team. “Companies should make talent mobility a core value,” says Grace Lee. “Especially for those whose industry requires more technical know-how and hard-to-find talent in specific countries.” Talent mobility is a big driver of change at the C-level, agrees Greg Tadman. “Historically, there was a talent drain from Asia, with more talent leaving abroad. Increasingly now, many are keen to come here.”

8. Gamify your digital readiness checks for HR Leaders

As Aon’s Catherine Ng notes, one of the key skill sets that HR leaders need to display can be best summarised as “digital readiness” – or having the ability to adopt and adapt to fast-changing technologies as they arrive. “We’ve been looking recently at digital readiness,” says Ng. “While we’re in the midst of this fourth industrial revolution, who are our digital leaders? We found out that there are a few differentials and tips to focus on in candidates: firstly, the curiosity of the individual: everything is now around how open you are to apply new knowledge. Second, your ability to adapt and change from a behavioural aspect. And lastly, are you able to very quickly break old habits? Because what is totally relevant today may be totally irrelevant tomorrow.” She says companies, including Aon, have a suite of tools – including mobile gamified assessments to search out these traits, which as she cautions, are less a function of age but of attitude: “These are examples of gamified assessment, to be able to sniff out these abilities to gain new information and become more digitally-savvy.”

Looking to hire? Find out more about Michael Page’s recruitment services and the sectors we cover.

The 8 insights above were from our Page regional HR panel: Anthony Thompson, Executive Board Director and Regional MD at Michael Page; Catherine Ng , Engagement Practice Leader in Talent and Organisation Development at Aon; Greg Tadman, Regional Human Resources Director, Asia Pacific at PageGroup; and HR disciplines heads: Julie Yeh, Manager, Michael Page Singapore; Grace Lee, Associate Director, Michael Page Hong Kong; Lisa Zheng, Director, Michael Page China.

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