2022 Reflections

Ange Connor
Images of Joel Selwood and Isaac Smith with AFL premiership cup, Elon Musk, Harry and Meghan, Taylor Swift. Text reads: 2022 Reflections By Ange Connor

As 2022 comes to a close, it feels like many of us are limping through to the end and looking forward to a well-earned break over the festive season after another challenging year.

While there were no covid lockdowns during 2022 and isolation periods decreased, after the last two years it feels like 2022 was full of covid fatigue, feelings of being burnt out; many reassessing their life priorities and work commitments. The great resignation and the great realignment made headlines as businesses ramped up post covid, many trying to keep up with the growth and opportunity, and as a result, it seemed nearly every business was looking to hire more people. The problem was there were no, or very few, people to hire.

The number one question being asked was and still is, ‘where did all the people go?’ This question was nearly as popular as Taylor Swift’s new album which led her to being the first artist to occupy all top 10 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In my opinion, there is no one reason for the candidate shortage we have experienced during 2022, there are lots of factors that have all come together to create the perfect candidate shortage storm. Our borders being closed, people leaving Victoria and heading north, people re-assessing their work priorities and leaving the workforce or reducing from full time to part time, challenges and reluctance for some to return to the workforce after covid and the list goes on.

2022 will be remembered as a wet year, it rained, kept raining and is still raining and we experienced severe flooding across the state and country. Sadly, employment didn’t mirror Australia’s weather pattern. If only it had rained candidates and the employment market had been flooded with people looking for work.

Work from home (WFH) or remote working was still the most popular question asked by those candidates that were applying for jobs. With the easing of covid restrictions, businesses and government tried to transition workers back into the office or into hybrid working models. WFH and hybrid working has been another hot topic of conversation. Elon Musk might have bought Twitter, but he made more news headlines for his stance on no longer allowing remote working. While some business owners jumped for joy and took the same approach as Elon, others are saying they will never return to pre-covid work arrangements. While the jury seems still out on this hot topic, business owners are navigating this space to try and find the happy medium of hybrid working so as not to deter future talent from joining their business or losing existing talent to more WFH – hybrid friendly workplaces.

Employee Value Proposition (EVP) was the HR term of 2022. While it had existed pre-2022, many knew of it, but hadn’t paid much attention to it. In 2022, if you weren’t working on your EVP or promoting it, you’d struggle to win the war on talent. Gone were the days of having the luxury of interviewing three plus candidates and picking the best candidate for the job. In 2022, there was a role reversal at the interview table. If you were lucky enough to have your candidate show up for the interview, you then rolled out your EVP, pitching your business and all the reasons why that candidate should choose you and not the 10 other businesses vying for them. The recruitment game became all about pace; businesses if you snooze you lose in the current market.

Ghosting became a common workplace term. With Seek reporting higher than ever job adverts and lower than normal numbers of job applications, those looking for work had choice. Job offers flowed, unemployment rates were and are still low, and as a result, ghosting became the norm. Trying to get in touch with candidates who had applied for a job, no shows at interview and no shows on the first day of employment became much more commonplace.

As such, when you found a good candidate and if they were working in another job when you made them an offer of employment a counter offer from the current employer was almost guaranteed. Businesses knew all too well the cost of losing an employee in this market and as such, extreme counter offers were made in an attempt to retain employees. In my opinion, counter offers rarely work in the long term, more money doesn’t often solve the frustration that drove the employee to look for other opportunities in the first place, it’s a band aid solution. Then there were the candidates that cottoned on to the fact that they could use this as a strategy to get a pay increase from their current employer. Let’s see how this plays out in the coming years as often the more money a business pays for someone, the more they want their pound of flesh.

The Cats took out the 2022 AFL premiership with the oldest football team in the league. And businesses followed suit. As candidate shortages put pressure on businesses, businesses followed in the Cats’ footsteps and looked to older workers to help curb talent shortages. It seems Bunnings were ahead of the game with this strategy as Harold made the news as Bunnings’ oldest employee at 87 years of age when hired four years ago (now 91). Other employers looked to the ‘grey nomads’ to help supplement their workforce as businesses had to think outside the square or change their thinking to address their talent shortages.

Interest rates increased, the cost of living increased and Fair Work handed down the biggest minimum wage increase of 5.2% in 16 years. Some businesses struggled to get their head around this increase as they felt they were paying more, but getting less in skills and experience.

Off the back of the great resignation and the great realignment, the 4-day work week continues to get traction and trials around the world commenced. The 4-day work week is a little contentious; can it work, how can it work in some businesses, will it be financially viable for businesses, will it solve the work-life balance and meet the needs of changing work priorities? The jury is still out on this one, probably a little like the Harry and Meghan Netflix documentary. Stay tuned for how these two topics play out in 2023.

While 2022 had plenty of talent challenges, there were lots of positives. These challenges have forced us to think differently, re-imagine where and how we work, and balance the employer and employee needs and priorities. It’s exciting times ahead for regional Victoria with the announcement of the 2026 Commonwealth Games and this too will pose huge opportunities and many challenges for businesses as projects for the Games get underway in 2023. One thing is for sure, there is never a dull moment for business when it comes to managing our workforce.

The Inspire HQ team would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a safe, happy and prosperous New Year. We hope you have the opportunity to take a well-earned break over the festive season to recharge the batteries and gear up for a bigger and better 2023!

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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