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7 key recruitment challenges and how to overcome them in 2024

Recruitment Challenges in 2024

From economic uncertainty and market volatility to a lack of skilled talent available, 2023 was a challenging year for much of the business world. As organisations dust themselves off, ready to kick-start their programmes for 2024, what could be the main talent challenges they face? And what strategies should they be considering to mitigate any threats?

To understand the talent landscape, we surveyed over 4,000 employees and hiring managers across the globe as part of our 2024 Salary Guide.

80% of employers responded that they found hiring 'very' or ‘quite’ competitive in 2023 - they struggled or had to work hard to hire the right candidates. Yet it looks like there is substantial appetite for recruitment; 49% of hiring managers stated that they plan to actively hire in the first half of 2024, while a further 46% are looking to maintain their current headcount and ensure any attrition is backfilled.

We identified seven key challenges hiring managers should consider, along with suggestions for how to resolve them.

The quest for skilled candidates

According to our survey, ‘lack of skilled candidates available’ is the top hiring challenge employers expect to face in 2024.

The need for specific skills continues to increase as companies look to drive ahead with change and transformation agendas, satisfy new regulatory and legal regimes, maximise commercial opportunities, and respond to turnover.

But with fewer skilled candidates available and hiring processes taking longer than usual as companies seek out the perfect match of skills that they desire, organisations are missing out on securing the talent they need.

For many industries, skill shortages are inhibiting growth. Those professionals who have the most in-demand skills and experience are like gold dust. 

How to overcome this challenge?

Organisations are making training and talent upskilling a priority - developing internal talent, providing internal mobility, and secondment options.

  • Identify the key skills needed and any current skill gaps.
  • Develop learning and development paths for priority roles.
  • Collaborate with leaders to understand the skills available in wider teams.
  • Consider mentorship programmes to provide on-the-job learning opportunities.
  • Explore secondments and internal moves to bridge gaps for priority projects.

Optimising your recruitment strategies and focusing on skills-based hiring will help you locate skilled candidates who fit the changing demands of modern jobs.

  • Rethink your job descriptions and job adverts.
  • Incorporate skill assessments into your hiring process.
  • Partner with educational institutions to identify future talent.
  • Tap into your recruitment consultant's expertise in inclusive hiring practices to ensure a diverse pool of candidates.

Remember, if this challenge is not proactively addressed, your organisational growth and adaptability to shifting industry dynamics may be hampered.

Budget constraints on headcount

With economic uncertainty still impacting many regions around the world, organisations will likely find themselves navigating the tricky waters of limited recruitment budgets - listed as the second biggest challenge in our global research.

Limited budgets and resistance to approving new headcount have hindered the capacity of many leaders. The need for compelling business cases and impact analysis is a growing priority to ensure organisations are hiring strategically.

How to overcome this challenge?

While budgetary constraints and headcount limitations may present temporary obstacles, they don't need to be insurmountable roadblocks. By crafting an appealing business case, hiring managers can effectively advocate for the resources needed to attract and retain top talent.

  • Stress the importance of the additional staff as a strategic investment rather than a financial burden.
  • Calculate the impact of unfilled positions on revenue, customer satisfaction, and productivity.
  • Demonstrate how new employees will close significant skill gaps and unlock untapped potential.

Facts and figures speak volumes. Gather relevant data to support your case. This could include competitor analysis of workforce composition and internal metrics on project delays or missed opportunities due to staffing limitations.

Regularly update decision-makers on the progress of your initiatives and the ongoing impact of staffing limitations.

While seeking headcount approval, consider these temporary solutions to bridge the talent gap:

  • Outsource or hire project specialists: For specific projects or short-term needs, outsourcing or hiring specialist contractors can be a cost-effective alternative to permanent hires.
  • Internal secondments: If the expertise exists within your company, consider seconding employees to fill the gap. This provides cross-training opportunities and builds internal talent pipelines.
  • Process optimisations: Analyse and streamline internal processes to improve efficiency and productivity, potentially reducing the need for additional human resources.

Uncompetitive pay and benefits

43% of businesses outlined they ‘can’t compete on pay and benefits’ as the main reason they have lost out on hiring new talent in the last 6 months.

In today’s job market, 'specialist skills = higher price,’ certain skills are driving up salaries in specific industries. Data science, cybersecurity, and AI expertise, for example, command a premium. Benchmarking your offers against competitors in the industry and regional standards for these skill sets is crucial.

In addition to the immediate recruitment difficulties, this problem may result in increased employee turnover rates since workers may be drawn to other opportunities with more alluring benefits and compensation packages. More importantly, pay and benefits aren't just line items on a budget; they are investments in your most valuable asset: your people.

40% of professionals globally value ‘higher salary’ the most when looking at moving roles. Let's delve deeper into the statistics and see the five most valuable benefits shortlisted by the candidates

Bonus64.71%
Work from home63.18%
Health insurance60.70%
Flexible working hours: Flexi-start, flexi-finish56.25%
Pension53.07%

How to overcome this?

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to compensation packages or benefits programs, employers need to consider what factors matter most when determining how much they should pay their employees - and how those factors change depending on where they're located (or even what industry they work in).

Using a benchmarking tool, such as a salary guide, is the most comprehensive way of finding out what candidates’ expectations on pay and benefits are for any roles you may be hiring for.

According to a Gallup/Workhuman survey, organisations that prioritise employee appreciation have workers who are 56% less likely to look for a new job.

Some strategies for action:

  • Survey your employees to better understand the benefits they value (non-monetary benefits are often highly desirable, such as working from home).
  • Regularly analyse your competitor's offerings to ensure your package remains competitive and attractive.
  • Communicate the total compensation package, including salary, benefits, and non-monetary perks, to highlight the overall value you offer employees.
  • Consider flexible work arrangements, the ability to work from home, employee discounts, wellness programmes, or tuition reimbursement to create a more holistic and enticing package.

Challenges with employer branding

A strong employer brand acts like a beacon, attracting top talent. It showcases your company's values, culture, and unique offerings, making it stand out from the crowd. A compelling employer brand can tip the scales in your favour, giving you an edge over competitors. It can:

  • Strengthen your reputation and brand perception.
  • Increase the quantity and quality of candidates.
  • Boost referrals and reduce hiring costs.
  • Speed up your hiring process.

Building a competitive employer brand can indeed involve an investment, and if not done strategically, it can become a costly venture. Smaller companies can face these challenges compared to larger corporations, which often have dedicated hiring teams and large marketing budgets.

How to overcome this?

Examine your employer brand message carefully. Is it obsolete or generic, or does it just lack something special? Retell your story with an emphasis on principles, culture, and employee experiences to emphasise what makes your business special.

Use social media sites to publish employee success stories, promote career development possibilities, and exhibit your company's culture. Establishing trust and participation requires being genuine and open. It is essential to cultivate a lively, welcoming, and happy work environment.

Promote staff involvement, demonstrate how you made investments in their professional growth, and acknowledge accomplishments. Give your staff the freedom to share their experiences because they are your greatest brand ambassadors. In job descriptions and advertisements, don't merely list duties and tasks. Give a glimpse of what it's like to work for your organisation. Emphasise possibilities for progress, special privileges, and work-life balance.

Without a strong employer brand, smaller or less well-known companies may struggle to attract top talent in a competitive market. The support of a skilled recruitment specialist can be advantageous for companies vying for top talent in a competitive market. Your recruiter becomes your brand ambassador to raise awareness, sell the benefits of building a career at your organisation, and tap into a wider pool of candidates.

Managing a hybrid workforce

Recognising the evolving expectations of the post-pandemic workforce, many companies have embraced flexible working. Remote and hybrid work options have been used as a tool to attract and retain talent, especially by organisations that have found it difficult to compete on pay and benefits or attract the skilled talent they need.

However, the landscape has changed. Businesses understand that employees desire flexibility; nonetheless, a "remote rewind" trend is taking hold, with 56% of firms we surveyed worldwide asking staff to come onsite more frequently.

Managing a hybrid workforce

In direct contrast, our research showed that 66% of employees currently working onsite five days a week would rather have a hybrid work pattern.

How to overcome this?

How can we reconcile employee wishes for mixed work patterns with company expectations that may be at odds?

A question that many leaders are grappling with now, along with having a compelling answer for employees who ask, ‘Why are we returning to the workplace?

Is it to:

  • Enable teams to problem-solve on projects.
  • Improve productivity.
  • Reinforce company culture through social interactions and shared experiences.
  • Enhance training, mentoring, knowledge sharing, and immediate feedback.
  • Strengthen client relationships and build trust through in-person meetings.
  • Onboard and integrate new hires seamlessly.

Research analysing the productivity differences for onsite, hybrid, and fully remote employees continues, with many organisations using this as the trigger for promoting more onsite presence.

On the flip side, organisations are also using technology, improved communications, and management training to address unconscious bias that may counter some of these arguments.

The key is your communication strategy and data around any work pattern changes. Have you aligned all the requirements and communicated your rationale clearly to the workforce? Do you have the data to evaluate such changes?

The ‘why’ behind the remote rewind needs to be clearly expressed to existing employees with compelling benefits of in-person interaction for them. It’s also wise to set expectations early in the hiring process for any recruits if you want people onsite for a set number of days.

Leaders can certainly walk the talk and set the tone by being visibly present in the office. Leading by example will foster trust among employees and demonstrate a genuine commitment to the chosen work pattern.

A second question to pose is, can distinct business requirements be met within a flexible framework? Some organisations are considering whether work patterns can be set up to accommodate different roles, skills, and talent shortages, where offering flexible work patterns can be a key differentiator for candidates.

What makes this more complex is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that some jobs—like programmers and UX designers—can flourish in remote environments while others—like laboratory technicians—require an on-site presence. Striking the balance between flexibility and practicality calls for close collaboration with HR teams to guarantee that policies are fair, transparent, and practical.

While the trend towards full-time remote working may be declining today, the demand remains for hybrid work patterns, and organisations that can adopt a more remote-first mindset see this as a strong strategy for attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market.

2024 will be a pivotal year to see if organisations see flexibility as not just a perk but a fundamental aspect of progressive workplace cultures.

Lengthy hiring processes

In today’s hiring landscape, with niche skills in short supply, the length of the hiring process is a key challenge for employers - making it the sixth recruitment challenge.

It was evident from our research that 34% of candidates said too many interview rounds, lengthy processes, and slow decision-making caused them to walk away from potential opportunities during the interview or application process. Even 24% of employers accepted that the slower hiring process was one of the reasons why they lost out on hiring talent last year.

The length of the hiring process depends on three main factors:

  • The type of role and availability of skilled candidates.
  • Internal screening and selection processes and approvals.
  • The industry/economic conditions.

Move too slowly, and you’ll miss out on the top talent.

Candidates remain frustrated by slow hiring processes and poor experiences. Fewer “A” players are actively looking for work, so organisations need to move fast to identify and secure top talent.

How to overcome this?

Shortening the hiring process requires optimising job descriptions, screening, and the interview processes; leveraging technology tools and your recruitment consultants; reviewing approval processes; and maintaining clear and frequent communication with candidates.

Here are some ways you can streamline your hiring process:

  • Audit your processes. Understand how long it takes to hire and where the bottlenecks arise. Is it because the headcount isn’t signed off, are there delays in organising internal interviews, or you're challenged with managing the applications?
  • Ask your recruiter to evaluate your processes. They’ll help enhance your approach by finding ways of reducing interview rounds by ensuring each meeting covers new questions and you have a streamlined process for capturing information and briefing the next interviewer.
  • Rethink your job descriptions and job adverts. Be succinct and accurate, and emphasise the most important points. Showcase the role and company culture truthfully to draw in the ideal candidates.
  • Focus on skills and potential. Be careful when you’re looking for that perfect candidate, as they often don’t exist. A long list of requirements in a job ad can often come across as overwhelming and potentially reduce your ability to have a diverse pool of candidates apply.
  • Communicate frequently. Inform candidates at every stage of the procedure. Establish reasonable deadlines, make frequent updates, and respond promptly to comments.
  • Review your technology and digital experience. Applicant tracking systems can streamline processes and create a consistent brand experience. Pre-screening and scheduling can be accelerated by utilising AI-powered technologies, online tests, and video conferencing.
  • Hire a contractor. Bridging any gaps in recruitment by hiring temps can help you take the time needed to hire permanent employees without risking any business downtime.

As the competition for skilled professionals remains, organisations that can navigate and abbreviate the hiring journey stand poised for success in 2024.

The adoption of technology in recruitment

Technology's significant involvement in hiring is both a benefit and a challenge.

While many hiring areas have been made easier by technological improvements, staying ahead of the curve can be challenging for organisations due to the quick change in tools available. With the progression of AI, there has been much coverage of how it impacts the recruitment world - yet in our research, only 7% of employers globally claim to be using it in their recruitment processes.

How can this affect your recruitment?

  • Manual processes can devour team resources.
  • Advanced sourcing tools are available, but without their effective use, talent remains undiscovered.
  • Communication gaps and delayed responses can leave candidates feeling frustrated, damaging your employer's brand.
  • Guesswork replaces data-driven insights, leading to costly hiring mistakes or longer hiring processes.

How to overcome this?

You can unlock efficiency and access larger pools of candidates by embracing tools and data-driven processes. It's critical to strike a balance between innovation and budgets and invest in tools that help you solve your current recruitment challenges.

  • Automation expedites a variety of procedures, including application communications, screening questions, and interview scheduling, freeing up time that is crucial for in-person interactions and candidate evaluation.
  • Analytics give you instantaneous insights into your hiring procedure, enabling you to spot bottlenecks, refine your approach, and calculate return on investment.
  • Positive candidate experiences are often the result of utilising user-friendly platforms and smooth communication tools.
  • AI-driven technologies pinpoint the best prospects with extreme accuracy, drawing in undiscovered jewels that conventional approaches might have overlooked.

Most common uses of AI in recruitment processes

1Sourcing candidates
2Scheduling candidates
3Onboarding candidates
4Screening candidates
5Improving the diversity of candidates shortlisted
6Nurturing candidates

Conclusion: A call to harness insights for future recruitment challenges

Our comprehensive study has shed light on the probable challenges that lie ahead, offering valuable data and strategies to navigate the intricate recruitment landscape in 2024.

Organisations can confidently begin their hiring attempts by keeping abreast of market trends, adopting cutting-edge sourcing technologies, and creating a work atmosphere that attracts and retains top talent.

The good news is that you don't have to let recruitment challenges hold you back in 2024. Partner with a team of recruiting specialists who recognise the complexities of your local recruiting market and can help you achieve your hiring goals comfortably.