The job market across the Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) region has undergone significant shifts of recent years, as the impact of the COVID era continue to be felt. This, coupled with advancing technologies, a rising trend of global talent sourcing as well as companies investing in a major L&D drive, and you have a clear snapshot of what to expect in 2024.
And that’s what we’ve provided today. We’ve undertaken a look back at the trends that shaped the workforce across A/NZ in 2023, and what’s in store for 2024.
The workforce trends that shaped the Australian and New Zealand marketplaces in 2023, are both surprising and predicable. From worker’s desire for more hybrid working opportunities to employers looking to bring their people back to the office, the sometimes-competing nature of how we work, has become seemingly widespread.
The major trends we noticed in the A/NZ region throughout 2023, were:
- Rising inflation rates and cost-of-living crises experienced in the region, were a pressure point for workers. Many therefore sought to work from home (WFH) more regularly, given the cost of commuting (the average Australian spends $6, 359 per year – 9% of after-tax earnings – on working from the office).
- In the 2 years post-COVID, hybrid working arrangements have been more firmly embedded into the working culture of the region. Although seeking flexibility and the lower cost of working from home, there have been negative impacts in the minds of workers:
- 59% of workers in Australia expect those working from the office to get better professional opportunities than those working remotely.
- 70% believe that working in on-site leads to better recognition and appreciation from business leadership.
- Talent acquisition was transformed by AI. Unlike robotic process automation (RPA), a technology that performs manual, repetitive tasks, AI goes deeper, such as reviewing CVs for skills, examining job boards for roles, and helping recruiters process client documents. Chatbots and smart talent platforms help to engage candidates and assist recruiters with shortlisting. ChatGPT adds capabilities to recruiting software, such as interview questions. This technology now sits at the core of the talent acquisition and hiring process.
- In competitive job markets like A/NZ, employer branding remains a competitive differentiator for companies of all sizes. Younger workers are particularly interested in working for companies where their values are aligned. And employer review platforms, like Glassdoor, now provide workers with insights into the culture and experiences of workers in an organisation – so having a positive work culture and authentic employer brand in place, goes a long way to securing top talent.
- Diversity and inclusion continue to be a staple of the talent landscape in A/NZ. Organisations with a diverse workforce are typically more productive and profitable, and the consistency with which organisation are undertaking inclusive hiring pays credence to this fact. AI is also helping companies meet diversity targets through candidate screening, although there is concern that bias may be entering the evaluation process, so proceeding with caution is advised.
- Hiring trends have been impacted by the ongoing need of organisations to prioritise employee wellbeing. In the (semi) post-COVID era of today, workers are still very mindful of their health and wellbeing, and organisations are supporting this. Also, in a high-inflationary environment, workers are feeling the pinch as their earnings afford them less in their day-to-day lives. These macro health and economic events of recent years have led to companies consistently focusing on their worker’s health and wellbeing, including the provision of dedicated programs and support structures.
Many of these workforce trends presented challenges in 2023 across the A/NZ region. Some of the challenges this year included:
- With increased flexibility in how we work companies are experiencing more data security issues. The need to reliably protect customer and employee data is particularly urgent, so the shift to cloud based systems, over on-site legacy systems is happening. But companies need to firm up the hardware used to access these systems, and set protocols in place for downloading apps and other web-based tools.
- Talent retention was a major challenge for organisations across A/NZ in 2023. Despite a tightening economic environment, highly skilled workers in the market showed a willingness to move to companies with better opportunities, better remuneration and/or better flexibility. If compensation and benefits – as well as other ‘soft’ value-adds, like aligned company values and wellbeing initiatives – don’t stack up, top performers showed they were willing to walk.
- Upskilling workers proved to be a major challenge in 2023, for several reasons. One major cause stemmed from the ongoing evolution of technology in the workplace. From AI and robotics to quantum computing and cloud-based collaborations, keeping workers skilled for optimum productivity is both time and resource intensive. Also, some workers are resistant to change, leaving HR leaders with surplus skills the business may no longer need.
As we look to 2024, the emerging trends for the region continue to factor in dispersed workforces, technology developments and the ongoing mission to plug talent gaps. Here’s what you can expect in 2024.
Overseas Hiring and Market Expansion
Employers in Australia and NZ have started to deploy varying means to meet talent shortages in the region, a trend that’s set to continue in 2024.
Hiring workers based offshore is increasingly popular with employers in A/NZ, especially since the pandemic. Adopting a remote workforce model, where talent is distributed across multiple countries fills talent gaps and is supported by cloud and remote-based technologies which allows for zero interruption to productivity and output.
Employers are hiring people in the Philippines, India, Brazil and parts of Africa to overcome skills shortages in everything from software engineering and digital marketing to accounting and graphic design, global recruiters say.
Australian Financial Review
Employers will continue to seek the best white-collar workers, irrespective of location, for global expansion, and to test new markets. In 2024, the top roles A/NZ companies will be hiring overseas talent for, include:
- Software engineers
- Software developers
- Customer support specialists
- Sales and business development professionals
- Content editors
The most popular countries Australia and New Zealand employers are hiring from, include:
- The Philippines
- The US
- The UK
- Africa is an emerging recruitment market as well.
Upskilling and Training in 2024
Employers in A/NZ will continue to ramp up investments in the training and development of their workers in 2024. Skills shortages in key job families are the main drivers, as well as the need for employers to boost technology proficiency and the related expertise of their workers.
According to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2023, there will be a 44% disruption of skills in the next five years. The report further suggests that reskilling and upskilling will be two of the dominant core focuses of Learning and Development (L&D) in the years to come.
For your organisation, now is the time to consider the trends in talent training and development for 2024 to maintain your competitive edge. These include:
Critical Thinking & Decision Making
These are skills that allow your teams to assess, understand and respond to different scenarios with efficiency, insight and adaptability depending on different scenarios. The upskilling of talent includes:
- Understanding the decision-making process and how personality and behavioural tendencies can impact choices.
- Recognising the effects of biases and differentiating between facts and assumptions.
- Decision-making tools for both individuals and teams, and how to apply them to realistic scenarios that your employees are likely to face.
In industries where adaptability is key, having a flexible approach can be the difference between success and failure. Critical thinking and decision making not only improves problem-solving and teamwork, but also enhances responsiveness to dynamic challenges in your organisation.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are at the forefront of learning trends for 2024, in A/NZ. By simulating real-life scenarios, immersive learning provides a controlled environment where learners can gain hands-on experience. This approach also helps bridge the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge, while minimising the risk of errors in the real world.
Microlearning has become one of the most popular trends in learning, which will continue throughout 2024. In today’s digital age, people have shorter attention spans, making it challenging to commit to prolonged learning and upskilling. That’s why e-learning platforms and organisations are adopting microlearning strategies to assist professionals in upskilling. It breaks down complex topics into bite-sized pieces, making it simple for learners to grasp new information. As a result, microlearning has become more engaging and personalised.
Learning and Development teams are now concentrating on providing their employees with skill-based training that aligns with organisational objectives. To achieve this, a data-driven approach is required to comprehensively understand and analyse these goals. Consequently, data-driven learning is predicted to be one of the top learning trends of 2024. To prepare effective learning strategies, organisations must analyse their existing expertise and available resources. This trend offers a more personalised and engaging learning experience, enabling businesses to tackle specific skills gaps in their business, that may be impeding growth.
AI Integration in Hiring and Onboarding
AI will continue its role in driving greater efficiencies for both talent acquisition and onboarding of new hires. Here’s how.
AI for Talent Acquisition
AI tools are revolutionising the hiring process by creating greater recruitment process efficiencies, reducing the potential for hiring biases, producing better hiring outcomes and helping to reduce the cost of hiring. Here’s how.
- AI can identify potential candidates who may not have applied to work with the organisation but have the right skills and qualifications through database and digital platform analysis.
- AI can screen large volumes of résumés quickly and efficiently, by matching open job specifications with candidates who have the right qualifications and expertise.
- Using predictive analytics, AI can analyse candidate data, including résumés, social media profiles and online behaviour, to determine which candidates are more likely to be successful in an open role.
- Chatbots provide candidates with instant help to answer questions about the job or the company’s hiring process. This allows recruiters to engage with candidates more effectively and save time by automating routine tasks.
- AI-powered video interviewing tools can be used to host remote pre-screening interviews. This allows the recruiter to minimise the time and cost typically spent scheduling and conducting in-person interviews. It’s also great for organisations who are interviewing candidates in other countries.
AI for Onboarding
The onboarding process can have a significant impact on an employee’s journey with a company. With the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, onboarding is currently undergoing a transformation that could completely revolutionise the process through personalisation and process enhancement. AI can help to instil a sense of belonging right from the start and ultimately optimises onboarding efficiency and outcomes.
The benefits of AI for onboarding include better worker engagement, improved retention and enhanced corporate reputation.
Some of the onboarding tasks now being managed by AI, include:
- Generating and managing paperwork via digital means.
- Sending messages to employees automatically, throughout their onboarding period.
- The use of chatbots to gather feedback from new hires and provide answers to early-stage questions.
- Analysing the performance and progress of new workers.
Embracing New Opportunities: Strategic Planning for 2024
Looking back at the year that was, and at the predicted trends of 2024 (most of which are already in train), it’s time your business really takes on these opportunities for your workforce, if you haven’t already.
HR teams that don’t adapt to market influences and technology developments, will cause their business to lag; both in productivity and due to talent gaps. From technology to training, from global hiring to better managing dispersed workforces, the emerging trends provide nothing but opportunity in 2024.
Of course, embracing these opportunities requires planning and strategic muscle.
Only 32% of HR leaders state that their HR strategic planning process is fully integrated with the business’ planning process.
Therefore, undertaking a strategic planning process so your business can successfully navigate the evolving job market in A/NZ throughout 2024, is critical. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Understand your organisation’s goals and strategic roadmap.
Aligning your HR strategy with the organisation’s strategy and business goals will lead to better business results and provide the business case for HR initiatives. HR leaders should collaborate with senior business leaders to understand how business priorities affect the HR function.
- Identify capabilities and skills for the future.
HR leaders must discuss with the business leadership, the impact of the organisation’s goals on each business unit’s workforce. Talking to the heads of each business unit helps HR to better understand the impact of the strategy on their functions and their future HR requirements.
- Evaluate current capabilities and skills.
Conducting an evaluation of an organisation’s current capabilities and skills allows HR leaders to identify gaps between present and future needs, enabling them to understand the talent implications of the organisational strategy.
- Develop HR goals and criteria for success.
When setting HR goals, prioritise those that will best support the organisation’s strategy and that will also define long-term success for the HR function.
- Communicate your HR strategy.
Craft a clear and concise statement that summarises the HR function’s key objectives for the next year and tailor it to each stakeholder group to guide departmental leaders’ decision-making.