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A Shape-Shifting World of Work

Date Published: July 18, 2023 | Last Updated: February 16, 2024 | By Rebecca Forsyth
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Tom Hadley’s take on a shape-shifting world of work

To paraphrase and slightly misquote the Beatles:

You say you want a revolution,
Well, you know
We all want to change the world (of work) …

Lennon and McCartney penned the song ‘Revolution’ in 1968, in response to the student riots in France and anti-war protests in the US. Fifty-five years down the line, HR, recruitment and compliance professionals convened on the Museum of London to intone on a different sort of revolution: The recruitment revolution!

The recent Accurate event ‘Navigating the Changing World of Work’ was a hell of a gig and a great opportunity to take stock of where we are at in terms of a radical revamp of outdated hiring procedures. Are we really on the cusp of veritable ‘Recruitment Revolution’? The feedback was upbeat. The vast majority of delegates (around 65%) said that there were at least some tangible signs of change to outdated hiring procedures and a significant proportion (around 35%) flagged fundamental and widespread changes afoot. Good to hear!

‘We’re getting there’ was the message emanating from the Museum of London manifestations. And discussions put a finger on five factors that will accelerate future change:

1. Greatly evolving expectations – Recent McKinsey research identified ‘rebuilding the employee experience’ as a top priority for CEOs all over the world. This also applies to the experience of candidates, and the expectation is that hiring procedures will be fair, supportive, and reflective of a fast-changing world of work. There is also an increasing desire to work in a diverse and inclusive environment. The reality is that we will not unleash the level of change that we need on inclusion and social mobility unless we are prepared to fundamentally review current recruitment criteria and procedures.

2. Staffing squeezes and the ‘skills-first’ philosophy – A stubbornly tight labour market focuses minds and accentuates the need to try something different in order to compete. This means re-energising employer brand and reviewing stagnant job descriptions, as well as taking a fresh look at process and selection criteria. It can also mean adopting a ‘skills-first’ approach where the focus is on a person’s skills and competencies, rather than on qualifications and previous job roles.

3. The political and regulatory landscape – In setting the scene for the panel discussion, Accurate Background Chief Revenue Officer, Dan Shoemaker, flagged the potential impact of new employment regulations and of an evolving political landscape. Fiona Coombe, Director of Legal and Regulatory Research at Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), provided specific examples of this evolving external landscape, including new regulations on temporary staffing and gig work in many countries, as well as other developments such as equal pay reporting.

4. The tech v touch tightrope – AI will continue to drive change in recruitment and selection procedures, with Chat GTP already being harnessed for practical tasks such as writing job descriptions. At the same time, the feedback from the Museum of London was that organisations are tip-toeing their way forward (very few participants were already making significant use of Chat GPT, for example) and are focused on finding a balance between tech and human touch throughout the hiring process.

5. Recognition that it’s high time for change – In many ways, it is simply a question of change being long overdue. This was the point made by Mel Forbes, Managing Director of APSCo OutSource, highlighting the need to shake-up outdated, CV-centric application procedures. It turns out that the very concept of the CV was invented by Leonardo da Vinci as a way of capturing his variety of skills and huge body of work. That was 500 years ago! Surely, it’s time to change things up and find new ways of doing things – no disrespect LdV!

The ‘recruitment revolution’ will be wide-ranging and is just one manifestation of shape-shifting trends and practices. For example, an increasingly global and fast-paced world of work makes rigorous screening and vetting procedures more important than ever.

Change always brings opportunities as well as challenges. For HR, recruitment and compliance professionals, the opportunity is to play a leadership role in pre-empting, influencing, and implementing change, and to share views experiences with peers along the way. The recent gathering at the Museum of London set the tone for future collaboration was a great platform for harmonising the voice of business and setting. Lennon and McCartney would have approved!

Tom Hadley is an independent workforce and campaigns consultant working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and employers across the globe. Tom used a bespoke version of his ‘Mega-Trends, Micro-Lens’ keynote talk to set the scene at the Accurate Background event and will relay further feedback and insight through the ‘Navigating Change’ blog series.

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