Talent trends in 2022 – Anything but “steady state”

When it comes to hiring, it’s been an incredibly challenging and disruptive few years for the tax profession as the pandemic upended our sense of normality and restricted shrinking talent pools even further. As the needs of the tax function continue to evolve, the required skills and thus the identification of the right “profile” is becoming increasingly difficult.

As we emerge from the pandemic, nothing can be taken for granted. Employers will need to work harder to attract talent, and even harder to retain their top performers. What can we expect to see in 2022?

Talent attraction

An exciting role brief and a competitive salary may not be enough in today’s marketplace. Employers need to be imaginative in providing incentives such as sign-on bonuses, LTIP plans and sabbaticals. Benefits such as premium health and dental insurance, increased time off, on-site creches and education reimbursements pay will also feature highly.

Focus on culture & sustainability

Increasingly, employees are concerned about the culture and ethics of their employers. Younger people, in particular, want to feel good about what their company does. ESG is thus front and centre; employers will have to have a clear strategy when it comes to sustainability and commit to measuring their impact.

Nurture in-house talent

The topic of succession planning and the need to identify and nurture our “future leaders’ is well documented. In a tight market, this is more important than ever. Employers are likely to place an even greater focus on investing in the training and development of their existing staff as we look to the years ahead, especially when considering some of the more challenging, niche positions within the function. Ensuring appropriate succession protocols are in place is key to ensuring the tax function is well-positioned and safeguarded for the future.

Throw the net wider

Whilst each company will have their own set of specific responsibilities and their “barrier for entry”, they will need to show a level of flexibility if they are to remain a competitive edge in today’s market. We are already seeing some companies considering candidates they might once have discounted. Relaxing certain requirements around qualifications and specific degree programmes may also be required (for certain positions). Considering talent from overseas territories should also be considered (1) to help boost the available talent pool and (2) to improve levels of diversity within the function.

Recruitment is a C-suite matter

The board recognise that recruitment and retention are critical in the current work environment. An increased interest in resignations, before taking action to correct any organisational shortcomings that could lead to more employees leaving in the future is already taking place. Given the tax function is now firmly positioned in the minds of those in the boardroom, the Head of Tax and their team is under the spotlight now more than ever before.

Engage new hires before day one

Online recruitment offers many advantages, but it can make employers seem interchangeable – the risk…. new employees can be lured away by a competitor before they even start. Working to increase levels of engagement and connection will help. Reverting to in-person interviews (even if a coffee walking around the park), video tours of the office, a well-structured, smooth interview process with minimal delay between stages will all help ensure candidates don’t drift away. Once a contract has been signed, a coffee or lunch is a must – keeping open lines of communication will be key to building relations during this interim period, especially as whilst your new hire is working their notice, their current employer will continue to have their time and attention. Managing this delicate process is key to ensuring you retain the focus of your new hire, and they ultimately join your team.

A well-oiled process

We can all agree identify talent is currently and will continue to be a challenge, once you’ve identified a shortlist it will be paramount the process to follow is well structured. Informing the shortlist from the outset of (1) the number of stages involved (2) the interviewers and (3) set dates for each stage (with placeholders scheduled in diaries) will provide clarity to the shortlist, set-up a smooth process, and (pending the performance of the shortlist) will hopefully result in a chosen candidate being identified within the pre-determined timeframe. Losing someone of interest (either through their withdrawal or to another interview process) cannot happen, especially in a tight market. By following the above steps, employers will automatically be in a stronger position many of their competitors which will not only result in the primary objective (securing your new hire) but will also leave a positive impression of the company in the minds of the shortlist and ultimately less stress for yourself.

Flexible working by default

Most professionals will have worked from home for extended periods during the pandemic. They know whether it works for them and, while many employees will want to be office-based, others will refuse a role if it doesn’t offer the right level of flexibility. Employees will also expect less business travel, with many meetings carried out remotely.

Sal Partners Comments

Right now, employees are in a powerful position; employers must work hard to attract as well as retain talent. This is not simply about money – culture, sustainability, flexibility, and career prospects also rank highly. Companies that are slow to respond to the current climate can expect to experience a raft of difficulties as we enter a period of increased challenge for the market.

We must adapt the antiquated interview processes we’ve followed for years, you’ve identified a shortlist…. move quickly, efficiently and with clarity and you’ll be on the path to securing your chosen candidate.



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