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Trends for your HR and Recruitment to-do list in 2020

Hiring tips
Helen Gilroy-Powell

Helen Gilroy-Powell

14th January 2020

As we start the new decade, we’ve been reflecting on the changes in HR and recruitment practices, and trends that we see rising in the coming year. Gone are the days when HR was purely an administrative and procedural function. Today HR is becoming more holistic and people-focused as it centres on company culture, employee wellbeing and uniting the workforce behind the company’s values and vision. We’ve seen this shift reflected in many job titles, from Employee Experience Designers to Directors of People and Culture, there is an increasing trend to move away from processes and move towards people. 

Last year Zinc founded our Occupation: People event series where we heard from top People and Talent practitioners who shared how their companies are furthering HR practices for the coming decade. There’s no doubt that forward-thinking companies will be leading the way in HR practices this decade. 

Here are the trends your HR team needs to look out for in 2020.  

Culture-first companies

Today more than ever, jobseekers are looking to work at companies that match their values and whose mission they can get behind. To attract top talent, companies have become more vocal about their culture and it is even common to include a paragraph about the company’s culture in job adverts. Because of this, people teams are evolving into the caretakers of their company’s culture, tasked with actively monitoring, promoting and building the company’s values, ensuring the whole company gets behind them. 

Within this trend, we are starting to see more people-centric cultures. In May, we heard Kirstin Furber, Chief People Officer at Kantar speak on the five characteristics of a human culture, and the benefits of creating a culture where people can be honest and authentic. This, in turn contributes to psychological safety which can lead to better performing teams. 

Culture is also a common part of interview processes, with some companies opting to conduct separate culture-fit (or culture-add) interviews, or focus on culture in their reference checks. Zinc has developed a culture reference question generator to give you inspiration for how best to draw out insights into your candidate’s values, attitudes and beliefs.

Read more: 

Culture Add, Just a Fad?: Advice for scaling culture in growing businesses

Evolving Culture: How forward thinking practitioners are building culture at their workplaces.

Zinc automated reference check tool

Data for productivity

The more we use tech solutions in our work, the more data we have available at our fingertips. Today companies are becoming more savvy as to what to track and how to use it. Last year Zinc was in Recruiting Brainfood with Luke Shipley’s thought-pieces on how data is used in forward-thinking talent teams and how it’s even forging new roles within HR. 

RecOps (recruitment operations) has forged a new strategic function using data to inform strategy which Luke explains here. To delve further into what Recops means to different companies we interviewed People and Talent leaders on how RecOps fits within their HR functions. With more data becoming available through technology, if you’re not making the most of it, you may be missing out on crucial insights.

Alongside hiring KPIs, some companies are starting to use anonymised data on their employees to improve productivity and more. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, “90% of the employees are willing to let their employers collect and use data on them and their work, but only if they benefit in some way”. However, staff being monitored with the knowledge that their performance can lead to bonuses or penalisations can cause stress, low job satisfaction and resignations—counterproductive to improving work performance. 

One creative use of data to improve the workforce was used by AXA. They developed a virtual career assistant to track skills interests and experience of employees meaning that they could better focus training and career paths for their staff, making the most of their in-house talent. Using algorithms, AXA was able to guide their staff to intelligently upskill themselves, ensuring their expertise remained relevant in the changing landscape.  

Read more:

The Rise of Recops: What this new function looks like in modern companies.

The Return of RecOps: We interview top People and Talent practitioners about how data is used to inform their hiring strategy.

Theory of Constraints: Cytora’s Ben O’Mahony discusses how to identify and remove bottlenecks from your hiring process. 

Recruitment Marketing

As the market for talent becomes more competitive—74% of recruiters think recruitment will become more competitive—compounded with job-seekers who are selective about the companies they want to work for, marketing techniques are becoming ever more important in landing the best people for your company. 

Employer branding has become increasingly important to recruitment strategy. Alongside the consumer-facing brand, the employer brand should appeal to staff and candidates showing why it is a good place to work. In 2020, your employer brand should not only attract the right talent, it should also accurately reflect the company, its culture, purpose and values, and what it is like to work there. 

Net promoter scores (NPS) are also becoming more important, and as good candidate experiences become the norm, this importance will only rise. NPS scores were originally used to measure consumer loyalty to brands. In recruitment it’s used as a measure for how much a candidate liked the hiring process and would subsequently recommend you to others.   

Onboarding—another concept borrowed from marketing—is becoming increasingly popular with companies who want to give a good candidate and employee experience. There are even companies like Enboarder and Hibob who tailor onboarding programs for you, ensuring you don’t miss a thing in the new hire’s first year. It’s proven that good onboarding can lead to higher retention rates so it’s a worthwhile investment. 

Read more: 

11 Things We Learned At Rewarding Onboarding: Insights from Occupation: People

What You Need to Know About Candidate Experience: Round-up of Exceptional Candidate Experience. 

Mental health at work

Mental health

In 2020, it’s high time to be open and honest about mental health at work. It’s proven that mental health impacts performance at work; research shows that happy employees are 12% more productive. This year we will be seeing more companies focus on the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. From puppies at work days to yoga and mindfulness sessions to flexible working, more businesses will take measures to ensure their workplaces foster thriving communities. 

There is a push for companies to be more open and frank when dealing with mental health. For example there was a huge backlash to Jobcentre Plus advisers in the UK who recommended that jobseekers should downplay their mental health conditions or disabilities, and to avoid words like ‘chronic’ or ‘degenerative’. Feeling able to speak freely about mental health builds authenticity, honesty and trust within teams. 

However, companies have to be mindful they are not just paying lip service to mental health simply because it is a hot topic. For example, last year Starbucks gave all its staff free access to Headspace, a meditation app. While some employees praised the move, there were many who criticised it saying that the international coffee chain was ignoring their complaints about irregular shifts, understaffing and reduction of hours. Companies wanting to join this trend should be mindful about the sincerity of their commitment to mental health.

Read more:

Hiring failures, can you avoid them?: Avoid poor performance by building psychological safety.

Evolving Culture: How views on culture are evolving to build happy, productive workplaces.

Flexible working patterns

Alongside building positive work cultures and good mental health, companies are becoming more open to flexible working. Whether that is remote working or pawternity—yes, you read that correctly, it’s leave for welcoming a new pet into your family—more companies are embracing work patterns that fall outside of the 9-5. 

This trend can help people find a good work-life balance which can lead to better overall employee wellbeing. It also shows that companies are recognising that work is not a one-size-fits-all. Life commitments and personal preferences can mean traditional work patterns are not suitable for everyone, for example if they have care responsibilities or if they prefer remote work for parts or all of their role. 

Flexible work can mean fewer contact hours between employees and managers and require a lot of trust. Communication is key in ensuring a positive relationship is maintained with clear expectations. For example, open and honest dialogue can facilitate remote work, especially if you build a culture where workers talk about any issues they are experiencing as soon as possible so they can be dealt with swiftly.

Read more: 

Hiring Distributed Teams Part One: Why Twice as Many Blockchain Teams are Distributed

Hiring Distributed Teams Part Two: Perfecting your Interview Process for Building Remote Teams.

Hiring Distributed Teams Part Three: Background Checking Global Teams.

Automation for productivity

There are many options for software for HR and recruitment, and there are many ways to automate time-consuming processes so you can focus on wider issues such as culture. In November, we heard from Christine Ng, Talent Acquisition Partner at The Financial Times speak on the variety of automation tools available for HR and recruiters. A particular favourite of hers is chatbots which she says can automate many tasks from FAQs about the role and the company to screening candidates, and even to schedule interviews. Watch her talk here.

One particular interest of ours at Zinc is automation of reference checks, and we’ve developed tools specifically to automate this process. Not only will your time to collect a reference be dramatically reduced—90% of our reference checks are returned within 3 days—but you’ll also collect in-depth candidate insights. We strongly believe that automation shouldn’t take away the ‘human’ element, but instead should simplify processes, freeing up time for you to focus on creating those personal touches that enhance your candidate experience. 

Watch more:

Pimp up your decision-making process: how to choose software effectively for your company

Digital as an enabler for cultural transformation: how technology can play a central role in your culture.

Interviews hiring and onboarding for success feedback motivation and emotional intelligence

Championing Diversity

Last but not least, a trend we are glad to see coming to the forefront is diversity. Companies like facebook and Google have been publishing yearly diversity reports for the last 5 years. What we’re also starting to see is the concept of diversity itself widening. Traditional concepts in diversity such as the balance of gender, age and race are still present, but we’re also seeing companies push for more inclusion in terms of diversity of experience and thought. 

The concept of culture-add champions the creation of a diverse workforce. Rather than hiring more of the same, companies that hire for culture-add aim to build varied teams who can draw on their diverse backgrounds to bring different experiences and perspectives into their work. This isn’t only a box-ticking exercise for inclusion in the workplace, it also ensures that the work the company produces resonates with a wider audience, bringing benefits to the company as a whole. 

Read more: 

Culture add or Culture fit?: Diversity works best when teams need to generate ideas

Combatting Unconscious Bias in Tech Recruitment: Ensure your hiring practices are inclusive.


What are your top trends for HR and recruitment? Were there any we missed? Tweet us with your suggestions @zinc_work


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