2024 Recruitment Trends

Adapting Talent Strategies for 2024’s Economy: our Market Insights

There have been lots of forces at play in the UK economy that have combined to deliver a very challenging year for businesses. High levels of inflation coupled with an extremely tight labour market have driven salaries up, exacerbating the difficulties that many have faced when searching for the right talent. Add in the budget pressures that this has created, and you can start to appreciate why the economy has to stagnated.

This may be of little comfort to those who feel like the last 12 months has been one long uphill struggle, but it certainly felt like a period of stagnation was a necessary evil required to temper out-of-control inflation.

That said, the recent autumn statement feels like it is set to capitalise on the more stable footings of lower inflation, and as long as businesses and their talent partners can proficiently manage the expectations of candidates, there are opportunities to benefit from the green shoots of growth that will hopefully accompany the recently announced tax breaks.

Regardless of whether it happens immediately, or further down the line in the aftermath of the April budget, it’s inevitable that with a General Election looming at the end of 2024, every effort will be made by the incumbent ruling party to promote economic growth through investment.

This may be a no-lose-gamble to either win back voters, or cynically leave challenging spending commitments in the event there is a changing of the guard, however, whatever the motivation behind it, businesses need to understand how best to capitalise on this to benefit their own position.

My advice to businesses who are looking to grow their teams and exploit any potential growth (no matter how sustainable it may be), is to adopt a buy-and-build approach to recruitment.

A strategy based entirely on buying in talent could leave you over-exposed and faced with the need to make redundancies if growth cannot be sustained. Whereas, if you adopt an approach that focuses predominantly on the build aspect of talent development, you may miss the opportunity if growth is short-lived.

The buy-and-build approach provides the much-needed flexibility to businesses who want to be in a position to benefit from any signs of growth, but don’t want to be overly burdened by further bumps in the road.

The challenge for businesses is that the buy-and-build approach to talent requires far more robust recruitment strategies than the traditional methods adopted by the majority of the market. A far greater emphasis needs to be placed on the more nuanced attitudes & behaviours of candidates over the more easily identifiable skill & experience; something that is difficult to transition to for companies who have become reliant on cheaper agencies or AI to drive down the upfront budgeting restriction placed on their recruitment strategies.

The buy-and-build methodology is a far more sustainable approach to recruitment (something that should be at the forefront of mind regardless of the economic landscape), but also has the added advantage of allowing businesses to be much more proactive about developing their existing cultures, so should be leading any talent strategies in the new year. The challenge, as ever, is to convince those that are resistant to change to adapt the way they operate.

With many of the currently adopted systems being deep-rooted, and cobbled together from age-old practices, many of which even pre-date the technological revolution, there are definitely efficiencies that can be gained. But with every opportunity, there are challenges, and with recruitment these difficulties arise when needing to challenge the norm.

For those that are able to do this, though, 2024 could provide a turning point.

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