Talent Board Going Back to Work Research: How Frenetic Recruiting and Hiring Is Today

We’ve never seen this before; we’ve never been here before. That’s a sentiment we keep hearing at Talent Board from our CandE community. People who have been in recruiting and hiring for over 15-20+ years have never experienced this kind of frenetic environment before.

In fact, most of us have never experienced a pandemic like this in our lifetimes. Not one that continues to evolve into variants that continue to impact unvaccinated populations and economies everywhere.

With vaccination rates increasing (and plateauing too unfortunately), many industries are now ramping hiring exponentially, industries that were decimated in 2020. But they can’t hire people fast enough, especially hourly workers. There are those who are unemployed who are looking for better positions than they had before the pandemic wiped out many of their jobs. There are those who won’t take lower wages again if they continue to get government benefits. Plus, many more with families struggle without affordable childcare and aren’t sure what to do once school is back in the fall.

There are also employees who are quitting their jobs in the highest rates seen since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began to collect this data in 2000. Many are burnt out and tired and don’t want to go back to the world of work pre-covid. Those who have leverage don’t even want to go back to the office; they want to stay remote, or at least in a hybrid-type environment.

Organizations big and small across industries are having to deal with this frenetic environment real-time. In April, we conducted a brief “Going Back to Work” survey of over 100 companies about going back to work, and just this last month in June, we conducted a follow-up survey of over 110 companies with similar and new questions. Here’s what we found:

Job Growth

Although there’s been no significant change in our research from April to June, the good news is that job growth remains strong with 50% of the participating companies stating they’ve increased hiring significantly and moderately (see Figure 1). Plus, the June jobs report was up as well from May.

Figure 1.

Remote, Onsite and Hybrid

This is complex for many companies, since there are only so many jobs that could remain remote or hybrid (some remote and onsite) depending on the job type and type of business. Most significantly those going back to work all onsite increased dramatically from April (see Figure 2). This is also primarily in industries such as education, manufacturing, agriculture and government (public sector).

Figure 2. 

Requiring Proof of Vaccination

With more organizations deciding on how they go back to work, for those employees working onsite, employers requiring proof of vaccination has increased quite significantly since April (see Figure 3).

Also of note is the fact that 40% of the employers responding in June said they were offering incentives for their employees to get vaccinated.

Figure 3. 

Recruiting and Retaining in a Hybrid World

Although down from April, employers are still worried about retaining and recruiting critical employees who may have more flexible remote opportunities elsewhere, especially if business leadership is requiring employees to be onsite (see Figure 4). Of course this is more impactful with job types that can work remotely and have more leverage to negotiate this requirement.

Similarly, over half of the responding companies also believe how they go back to work will impact their diversity and inclusion efforts. And when you think about what we found in our latest research with iCIMS titled The State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace, the fact that C-suite leaders rated their organization’s hiring diversity 74% higher than recruiters do, that gap will definitely impact D&I recruiting and retention.

A new question we asked in June relating to retention was whether or not organizations were investing resources and staff to improve internal mobility and retention. Only 43% said they were.

Figure 4. 

Recruiting and Retention Incentives

In June, we also asked what incentives, if any, are organizations considering to offer potential new hires and current employees in the next 12 months to attract and retain (see Table 1). The top three are flexible work schedules (remote / hybrid) at 42%, higher salaries and hourly pay rates at 29% and stronger covid safety protocols at 28%.

What’s interesting is that 25% of the respondents said they were considering none of the incentives. That includes primarily smaller companies of up to 500 employees and industries such as education, government (public sector), non-profit and energy and utilities.

Also, 41% of companies up to 500 employees said they were considering higher salaries and hourly pay rates. That includes industries such as manufacturing, finance and insurance, health care, services, education, hospitality and even technology. Most likely to be more competitive with larger organizations. Stronger covid safety protocols are also considerations for these industries.

For organizations with more than 2,500 employees, the top three incentives are flexible work schedules (remote / hybrid) at 44%, stronger covid safety protocols at 44% and bonuses or other monetary incentives at 35%.

Childcare benefits are top of mind for many working people, and from our data in June, organizations above 2,500 employees and in industries such as finance and insurance, hospitality, manufacturing, services and technology are considering offering more of these types of benefits.

Table 1. What incentives, if any, is your company considering offering potential new hires and current employees in the next 12 months to attract and retain? (select all that apply)

Communication and Feedback Are Always Competitive Differentiators

Talent Board will conduct a follow-up of this brief research again in August. Until then, it’s clear that we’ll continue to see more of where we’ve never been again with recruiting, hiring and retaining. Hiring is ramping, yet new hires aren’t happening and employees are quitting. And we’re all just trying to figure out what to do next, how to go back to work, and what do we offer our new hires and current employees to keep our companies sustained and growing.

On a related note, we’re also currently collecting our 2021 Candidate Experience Benchmark Research, and so far we’re seeing candidate resentment in North America increase by 50% since 2020 (from 8% to 12%). That’s a reverse course from what we saw in 2020. Candidate resentment meaning a job candidate’s unwillingness to every apply again, refer others, have brand affinity, or make purchases from consumer-based companies based on a poor experience.

That’s why now more than ever clear and consistent communication and feedback with your candidates and employees are critical. They are always competitive differentiators in candidate experience regardless of what the world looks like and regardless how frenetic recruiting and hiring is today. And today it most certainly is.

There’s still time to participate in Talent Board’s 2021 benchmark research program. The deadline to complete our candidate survey research is August 31, 2021, so learn more and register today here.


Be safe and well.

Kevin Grossman, Talent Board President


Join the CandE Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest Candidate Experience Events, Insights, Information, CandE Deadlines, Research & So Much More