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5 Takeaways from Accelerate 2022

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Headwinds are blowing toward the talent acquisition world, and TA teams need to be prepared. Between macroeconomic factors and tightening headcount budgets, recruiters may find that their original goals have been upended without any insight into what’s next.

These top issues were addressed at Accelerate 2022, our recent virtual conference.

Accelerate showcased some of the brightest experts in TA and business. And, each of these experts shared in-depth insights.

Additionally, our speakers offered practical advice to help TA pros such as yourself plan strategies for — and solve – recruiting challenges in the year ahead.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways from Accelerate 2022.

1. Leaders must prepare their organizations for the (likely) economic downturn

In her opening keynote address, Betsy Summers, Principal Analyst, Future of Work at Forrester, discussed the challenges facing the HR and talent community.

Betsy noted business leaders must take proactive steps to prepare their organizations to weather an economic downtown.

She advised that companies should maintain brand and culture in difficult times. Also, leaders should build trust and transparency by over communicating, sharing strategy, and addressing rumors.

“With transparency and trust, what we want to do is show consistency with your brand and your culture. You want to make sure that the actions that you take are continuously reinforcing the employer brand that you have and the culture that you have cultivated within your organization. When people see a disconnect, that is the first signal for them that you are not to be trusted,” cautioned Betsy.

Additionally, she discussed how planning is essential and having multiple scenarios can help you avoid being too reactive to the potential downturn and prevent overcorrections as you make incremental changes.

In fact, Betsy mentioned that now is not the time to make reactive moves. Instead, it’s a good time to gather your leaders for cross-functional conversations. And, that layoffs are a last resort.

Layoffs should rarely be the answer and will always result in negative consequences. She added that companies with layoffs are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy than companies that don’t have them.

“Companies who have layoffs are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as companies who don’t, because layoffs tend to speak to a failure to plan ahead and to seek the alternative right. Layoffs being the hopefully the last resort for people means that they have exhausted their options,” Betsy added.

2. To attract top talent, organizations need to think bigger than work

During his engaging session, Eric Termuende, author of Rethink Work, discussed the future of work and what organizations need to focus on to recruit top talent, and the struggle to fill roles in a talent shortage.

He began by outlining how the labor market and the way that we work is changing in ways we’ve never seen.

In fact, he expressed to the audience that corporations will struggle with a talent shortage even after a mild recession.

As Eric continued, he discussed how important it is for businesses to think bigger than work when recruiting top talent.

“What is that thing at your place of work that makes people want to work there? Conversely, what makes people not want to work at your company?” said Eric.

Eric also said business leaders should ask themselves specific questions to think broader than traditional work capabilities when recruiting top talent. For instance:

  • Where do your employees volunteer?
  • What types of causes do employees support?
  • How do you keep employees outside the office?

He added that in this new world of work when companies are trying to attract top talent that quantity should not be the goal.

“We don’t want to have a stack of resumes anymore that go from the desk to the ceiling. We want quality. And the only way to get quality candidates is to understand what we’re offering.

This also makes it important for companies to consider culture and how it’s communicated to employees and prospects to attract A players.

And, Eric’s advise is incredibly salient today as companies move away from high volume hiring and become more intentional about finding top talent.

3. When you can’t hire, internal mobility drives retention and loyalty

During the Internal Mobility session, our panel of experts – Haley McCown, VP of HR operations at Fanatics; Tia Prevo, Director, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding at Allegiant Air; Cliff Jurkiewicz, VP Global Strategy at Phenom – highlighted how internal mobility could drive retention and loyalty.

Chris Winkler, Director of Product Marketing at Lever, moderated the panel and began the session with important context: The past two years have accelerated interest and investment in internal mobility.

The State of Internal Mobility Report by Amplitude discussed that 70% of companies planned to increase investment in internal mobility in 2022. Conversely, Chris stated that a common frustration for some employees is that some managers deter them from moving into different roles on or outside their teams.

This is a massive problem because it can lead to low morale and a feeling of being stuck in a job with no opportunity for advancement.

“Some managers are fearful of talent and do not want to encourage change. Technology certainly plays a role in helping companies provide opportunities and reaching internal candidates without going through a manager first, said Chris.

Internal mobility awareness programs are essential because they let employees know that options are available to them if they’re interested in pursuing a different role within the company.

What’s more, great tech implemented correctly can accelerate an internal mobility initiative, according to Cliff Jurkiewiczk. It provides data that can help recruiters better engage and convert internal team members to roles that are a better fit elsewhere across the business.

“Why is it easier to do a Google search and find a new opportunity than it is at my desk, sitting inside these four walls?” said Cliff. He added, “employees want to stay, but often the right support has not been provided internally to make internal mobility easier.”

Integration between TA and HR tech is essential, but be wary of legacy tech integrations that will only lead to a more detailed internal mobility process by not forcing systems not designed to aid with internal mobility to do so.

Haley McCown added that her company’s people managers empower team members to explore new roles internally. This allows employees to try out new roles and responsibilities without leaving the company, giving them a chance to grow and develop within their current organization.

Additionally, Haley expressed how her recruiting team is incredible at maintaining an external and internal talent pipeline. This ensures that the company always has a pool of qualified candidates to choose from when positions open up, making the hiring process quicker and easier.

“Once we expanded outside of the US, we had more individuals who were interested in, coming from overseas or working overseas, it encouraged us to put something together,” Haley McCown.

4. Don’t let economic uncertainty derail your DEI strategy

Another key topic covered during Accelerate was diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The panel discussion included several key DEI experts to discuss the importance of focusing on DEI-related initiatives even amid economic turmoil and changing business goals.

The current economic climate may be uncertain, but that doesn’t mean you should put your DEI efforts on hold. On the contrary, this is an ideal time to double down your commitment to creating a more inclusive workplace.

According to Cierra Tavares, Chief of Staff of Recruiting at Attentive, if your org does not have a DEI Initiative, start one as soon as possible. And, founders should think about funding and DE early in their startup journey.

Without a DEI program, your company will continue “to hire homogenous people for your business” if you don’t dig into your workforce data and make a proactive effort to hire underrepresented people.

“One of the most key hires is in a specialized diversity and inclusion professional,” said Cierra. “Hire someone with a demonstrated history in this space and a demonstrated history in spaces that are difficult to find, especially in leadership positions.”

Once you increase representation and equity in your work environment, employees will promote your that your company embraces hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds and helps them advance in their careers — a potential differentiator, according to Cierra.

Katrina Jones – VP of People at the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation – said that many women, particularly in senior roles, are leaving companies because they don’t feel supported and the lack of career progression.

“Women leaders, senior women leaders are contributing a lot in the area of DEI and they are often not recognized and compensated for their work,” said Katrina.

Data is essential for evaluating how DEI is done at an organization. According to a Lean In report on Women in the Workplace, the pandemic has changed what women want from their companies, including the growing importance of opportunity, flexibility, employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Additionally language is important for DEI. Michelle Michael, Director Talent Acquisition at Basis Technologies, mentioned that her team’s DEI goals have become increasingly more targeted and less vague.

“Really narrowing down and figuring out what we mean by diversity. Then, let’s work with execs and hiring managers on specific strategies and messaging tailored to that talent,” said Michelle.

Adding more inclusive language in job postings encourages candidates to apply even if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements listed. Many women and POC tend not to apply for roles when they don’t meet these criteria, which helps get more diverse candidates to apply.

5. Lead your organization with empathy

Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer of VaynerMedia, provided an inspiring closing keynote about the essential aspects of leading an organization with empathy.

“By seeing people as doing their best, we also see others as we want to be seen,” said Claude. “The way you see people is how you treat them, and the way you treat them is who they become.”

More importantly, she espoused the value of being someone that other people want in the room, at the table, on the soccer field, at Christmas dinner, et cetera. And, she added that how you make someone feel is more important than what you say.

“People do catch emotions from one another; attention and generosity. This is a way of being there for people,” said Claude.

Claude shared with the audience a “trail map” for empathetic leadership that included terms such as “humanity is our superpower” and “create psychological safety and eliminate fear.”

“We need to remind ourselves that we’re all human going through very similar emotions…and we want to embrace a growth mindset … and be guided by kindness and candor,” she added.

Claude concluded by imparting to the audience that leaders that use this empathetic approach will create “teams, organizations, and companies where people feel a sense of belonging.”

“People will feel valued by their colleagues, where they know their colleagues have their backs, and want the best for them…and that they’re part of something bigger.”

Watch Accelerate22 with your team

More than ever, it’s vital for teams to learn new strategies in uncertain times for how to lead their organizations. If you missed it, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with an opportunity to review the recorded sessions.

Visit Accelerate to view any sessions you may have missed and discover the expert insights and advice shared by our guest speakers.

Also, Lever recently released The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: DEI Through the Employee Lifecycle report to help companies assess if DEI programs are working and how employees and employers rate the quality of these initiatives. Download it today!