2021 was another unexpected year for companies in need of tech talent. As the trend toward increased digitization of products and services continued, the unemployment rate for tech jobs went from just over 7 percent in January to around 2 percent in the final months of 2021.
Recruiters and businesses had to continuously — and quickly — innovate their talent acquisition strategies. The Great Resignation and a push toward a worker-first labor market created demand for higher salaries, continued expectations around remote work and many other needs. So there was a lot that recruiters had to adjust to on the fly.
And while anything can happen this year, talent stakeholders should take the time to strategize on how they can get proactive rather than reactive, because being ahead of the curve is the only way to secure talent in such a tight market.
We’d like to help.
In a recent webinar, Sheridan Orr, Built In’s chief marketing officer and a veteran HR tech specialist, discussed the 2022 trends that talent leaders should be aware of. Orr presents these insights based on internal research and communications with our 2.7 million monthly users and trends we’ve seen in conversations with the 1,800 customer partners we work with. Read on to find out what should be top of mind for recruiters this year if they want to get ahead of the game.
A Balanced and Transparent Approach to Compensation
Last year, over 1 million people searched for salary information on Built In and 67 percent of professionals said they actively use these kinds of tools. Candidates today want to know how their salaries stack up to peers in their fields and across nationwide averages.
“Millennials are tweeting their salaries and gen Z is openly discussing salaries too,” said Orr.
The pendulum has swung from an environment where you can get fired for discussing your salary to a space where one in eight job postings now has salary info. Overall, candidates are seeking higher pay and even bonuses this year because many businesses are back at 100 percent operating efficiency. This is in contrast to the last roughly two years when tech raises and bonuses were largely halted due to the pandemic’s economic effects.
However, businesses have make sure they aren’t creating a detrimental salary gap between new and existing employees during their pay surges and talent search. Many companies are using bigger salaries and signing bonuses to recruit new talent. But without measures like retention bonuses and key internal raises, existing employees may feel left behind.
“Balancing compensation between new hires and existing employees is creating some organizational friction and if we don’t address that, I do feel that that is a pathway for people to decide to leave,” said Orr.
Career Convos and Abolishing the Annual Review Cycle
“73 percent of employers believe they offer solid career development opportunities, but only 52 percent of employees believe that's true,” said Orr. “So there is this gap in what a career path might look like and how we make promises.”
Orr says its important for company leaders to have thorough career path discussions with employees. Professionals want guidance on: what’s possible with their skills, what they may lack in order to advance, what their new title and role will be like and what their salary would be. It helps shape how employees can get the most out of career development opportunities like professional development stipends.
“I used to like be coached by our HR team like, “Well, you can tell them where there gaps are, and what you see for them, but don’t make any promises,’” said Orr. “And I think employees want promises.”
She also said that the annual review cycle should be done away with so that hard work can be rewarded more regularly. Professionals want more consistent feedback and praise throughout the year, which the annual review cycle does not lend itself to.
“A lot of us are scrapping the annual review and having a couple of different touch points and creating new pathways for high potentials and core performers,” said Orr. “We’re really starting to think about how to give just-in-time feedback but also make sure that all of that rolls up into the big picture of what that employee has achieved and how can they continue to grow.”
This guide explores four major topics that talent leaders must pay attention to in order to thrive in 2022. We also offer a free employer branding calendar so you can make sure your messaging aligns with what candidates want to hear.
New Skills Leaders Need To Retain Talent
The idea of re-recruiting — how to continue to sell existing employees on the vision of the company and value that can come from working there — will be key to retention in 2022.
During a roughly 40-person round table discussion Built In hosted with c-suite technical executives, only 10 percent said they spend time re-recruiting. These leaders said they have trouble in this department because they don’t know how to talk about the company vision without mentioning an individual’s performance or their career path. Orr believes leaders will need to develop these talk tracks to keep employees engaged. Otherwise, if they lose track of the vision, they might get clearer eyes at another company.
Additionally, it’s been a difficult couple of years for leaders since there’s been a transition from being primarily empathetic about work to also being empathetic about life. But caring about an employee holistically is a key trait that leaders need to refine this year as only 24 percent of
“We need to recognize when employees are going through emotional [stress] or even just disruption,” said Orr. “And I don't know that a lot of our leaders have the skill sets to support the whole employee…I think it's really important for us to think about how to give our leaders a new way to think about empathy.”
Lastly on this front, Orr said technical interviews should evolve to make for a better candidate experience. Many technical leaders give interviewees tough challenges to solve and they’re trained to look for red flags in these instances as opposed to seeing the possibilities a candidate can unlock.
“Our brains are trained to look for those red flags,” said Orr. “So we need to work with our leaders and managers to say, ‘Let’s look for possibilities. Can they change? Can they adapt? Have they proven that they can learn?’”
Adapting to What Candidates Want Today
Orr outlined the top five things professionals expect from companies today: full insurance coverage, remote work opportunities, retirement contributions, retirement planning and mental health and wellness benefits. Many tech professionals and leaders also increasingly believe that mental health and wellness benefits should be part of overall health insurance.
More businesses are also investing initiatives that give employees more time off as way to promote greater work-life balance and improve retention. For instance, companies are increasingly offering sabbaticals. Others are implementing mandatory, company-wide shut downs where no one works — or imposed vacation days, essentially. These days are in addition to PTO but they keep employees who take their allotted time away from coming back to an unruly number of emails and to-dos since everyone else was working in their absence. And overall, leadership should lead by example by taking PTO when they can and encouraging staff to do the same.
One trend Orr said is not going away soon is remote work and employees’ affinity for. Some companies are even hiring remote experience professionals to make remote life more sustainable long-term.
“I think it’s incumbent on us as leaders to figure out how to make that [remote work] great,” she said. “How do we make it more equitable and enjoyable and make sure that remote employees feel culture, even though they may not be near the mothership, so to speak.”
Lastly, Orr said more senior executives are thinking about ways they can bring in more diverse candidates. This is an idea that aligns with the fact that 78 percent of candidates say a company’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and representation are important to them when looking at new roles — a number that jumps to 88 percent for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
“Make sure that your employees and your leaders understand that diversity, equity and inclusion are even more important in this hiring frenzy,” said Orr.