Hiring in 2024? You need to understand the priorities of today’s talent

content for hire

Chances are, some of the most talented people in your organisation are looking for a new job right now. You might even be looking for one yourself. After all, February is renowned for being a busy month for recruiting staff as managers take advantage of new hiring budgets granted at the start of the year.

In the UK and globally labour markets remain tight, despite the increasing prevalence of hiring freezes in many sectors. Employers with vacancies to fill are therefore still competing fiercely for talent, especially talent with skills in sought-after areas such as accounting and IT. So, what should they bear in mind as they develop their recruitment strategies?

New research from ACCA, Global Talent Trends 2024, provides some valuable insights into the top priorities of today’s finance talent. The study of nearly 10,000 professional accountants across 157 countries, including the UK, explored people’s career aspirations, as well as key workplace issues including technological advances, diversity, mobility, remuneration and mental health.

What UK employees want

Given the huge explosion of interest in artificial intelligence (AI) over the past year or so, it’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters (71%) of UK respondents to the research wanted their employers to provide more training on technology. They were particularly excited by the potential of AI, believing that it would enable them to add more value in their work. Nevertheless, 42% admitted to feeling concerned about the potential impact of AI technologies on their own role.  

The research found that hybrid working continues to be enormously popular, both with employees in the UK and around the world. Seven out of 10 UK respondents described hybrid working as their preferred arrangement, with 76% of global respondents saying the same. Notably, 21% of UK respondents favoured fully remote working – in contrast to 13% globally. So, employers that continue to insist on full-time office-working arrangements are clearly putting themselves at a significant disadvantage in the recruitment market.

To compete in today’s fast-moving and complex world, employers must be able to draw on the skills and capabilities of a diverse workforce. If they want to attract and retain the best, they must also support all their people to achieve their potential. The research underlined these points by highlighting that equity, diversity and inclusivity are important issues for UK talent. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents revealed that an inclusive and diverse culture would be a key factor for them when deciding whether to work for an organisation or not.

Search hundreds of roles from all over the world on ACCA Careers

Sign up for a job alert tailored to your desired location and role

In 2022/23, an average of 19.6 working days were lost for each person suffering anxiety, depression or stress, according to the Health and Safety Executive. While UK employers compare favourably with their counterparts globally when it comes to supporting mental wellbeing, the ACCA research suggested that they could still do better. Over half of respondents (55%) said their mental health was suffering because of work pressures and 32% had considered resigning due to wellbeing issues. Two in four respondents wanted their employer to provide them with more support with managing their mental health. 

With interest rates still high, and the cost of living crisis continuing to rage, pay was understandably a major concern for the people surveyed. Less than half of UK respondents (48%) were happy with their current salary, with a similar percentage (49%) believing that the best way to improve their pay packet is to leave their current organisation. 

Keep them keen

This brings us to the issue of talent retention – which is likely to remain a challenge for employers for at least the next 12 months. Our research showed that 41% of respondents want to move role in the next 12 months, with 36% feeling unsatisfied with the career opportunities on offer with their current employer. More than half (54%) expect their next move to be external to their organisation.

On a positive note, employers can take comfort from the fact UK talent, generally speaking, is not planning to depart overseas. This may reflect the reduced potential for international mobility since Brexit, as well as the psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which separated people from friends and family members abroad. Just 15% of UK respondents to the research said they wanted to move internationally in their career at some point, the lowest score across any region.

Overall, the research should act as a wake-up call for any employer posting vacancies this February. In this competitive talent market, they will need to think carefully about how they can differentiate themselves and make both their organisation and their role as attractive as possible to the broadest possible talent pool, especially on culture, pay and working practices. 

You can read the full report here

A version of this article originally appeared in City AM in February 2024

Back to listing