people-first talent strategies help the business services sector in Europe overcome talent scarcity.

June 27, 2022

5 key findings from the 2022 Talent Trends research business services leaders should take action on.

| 11 min read |

The talent shortage is standing in the way of many companies’ growth goals this year — not just in the business services sector, but for employers across industries and around the world. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation and Great Enlightenment have led to millions exiting the global labor market or accepting more attractive positions. Today, talent dictates terms of employment as organizations struggle to fill roles across nearly every pay grade. This means business services leaders in Poland will need to take a more people-centric approach to attract and retain the talent who will drive their business forward.

In Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 Talent Trends research, talent scarcity is listed by human capital leaders as one of the most-cited pain points this year. The talent shortage is particularly complex in Poland, where 46% of employers plan to hire extensively this year, but one in four say talent scarcity is a major pain point. They cite this challenge only second to bringing in talent from other countries and followed by increased competition for top talent.

Randstad Sourceright ABSL Business Services Report - pain points in Poland

Scarcity is only expected to worsen for this market. In the The World Talent Ranking, Poland takes the 45th position (dropping from 37th in 2019), indicating that it may be more difficult for employers to access a high-quality talent pool in Poland long-term, especially for the knowledge-intensive business services sector.

The Ukraine conflict adds greater complexity to the situation, with the ONS predicting a downward turn of 1% this year, as a result of the war. While the flow of Ukrainian refugees to Poland can add to employers’ talent pools, many of the Ukrainian workers employed in Poland have also left to assist or transfer their families still living in Ukraine. At the same time, Polish employers are seeing expats leaving Poland to ensure their safety.

The gap in talent is most acute for technology-related jobs, which are the most sought after around the world. Business services employers are now competing with all sectors for this talent — not just their own. Cloud computing, AI development and analytics top the list of high-demand roles. According to Randstad Sourceright’s most recent “Global future in-demand skills report,” in Poland, there were 1,333 open job adverts in 2021 for AI and machine learning roles, for example, with a potential candidate per job advert ratio of 34:1. (In general, markets that have fewer than 150 professionals for each job posting are considered highly competitive.)

What does this all mean for the state of talent acquisition? Considering the extreme difficulties witnessed in the labor market in 2021, human capital leaders were far more occupied last year with operational emergencies than with long-term and strategic planning. Fighting fires became a full-time job. Under pressure to hire, onboard, train and build remote teams while preserving company culture and attempting to stem costs, most human capital leaders didn’t have time or resources to drive greater value creation in 2021, leaving them vulnerable to talent scarcity challenges in 2022.

Now, with talent at the top of the CEO agenda, it’s time to rebuild their talent strategies by putting people first. Skilled talent is in high demand and short supply, and one thing is clear: companies that treat workers like people — not human commodities — will emerge the winners. The following are five important talent trends that will help business services employers in Poland prepare for whatever surprises may be around the corner, while designing the structure they need to create long-term value.

01. obsess over the talent experience for game-changing talent attraction

According to the 2022 Talent Trends research, 82% of employers in Poland say they are more focused on the talent experience than ever before. The pandemic may have brought forth the Great Resignation, but it also allowed many leaders to re-examine the relationship between people and their employers. Specifically, they are hoping to create more mutually beneficial interactions that drive both greater job satisfaction for their people as well as innovation and productivity.

Broadly defined, the talent experience is more than culture, benefits and inclusion. It also includes self-determination, so people have more control over their careers, learning pathways and workdays. Some companies understand this and are investing in technologies and practices that encourage creativity and initiative, and maintaining a strong, differentiating employer brand that is consistent, authentic and engaging. These investments help to ensure their people are proud of their job and employer and, in turn, are more productive, committed and satisfied.

The 2022 Talent Trends survey has brought to light a clear opportunity to leverage technology in this space. Globally about half (47%) of companies say they are using technology to improve how work is performed. In Poland, however, just 32% are taking this approach, and only 34% say they are leveraging innovation to improve how talent is recruited. With only a minority of human capital leaders investing in innovation, there is clearly a greater opportunity for them to capitalize on the current surge of technologies that aim to improve the talent experience.

Randstad Sourceright ABSL Business Services Report - talent experience

Randstad Sourceright’s 2022 research also shows a significant increase in employer branding investments across all talent categories, with the most notable increases in Poland for freelancers, up 40 points to 62% in 2022, and temporary staff, which increased 40 points to 58% in 2022. As companies engage more contingent professionals, they may risk alienating an important part of their workforce if they don’t consider the contingent experience as well.

For the near future, companies will not be able to take their focus off the talent experience. If they do, they risk losing out on much-needed skill sets. Those that meet and exceed talent expectations will likely get a leg up on the competition.

02. upskill existing talent and recruit based on human potential

As critical skills become more difficult to win, looking inward gives companies a smart recruitment option with many benefits, such as accessing talent who are already engaged and familiar with your company. Internal mobility programs can significantly reduce recruiting and onboarding costs, shorten the time to productivity and build workforce loyalty. In Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company’s organizational design leaders report that 60% of a company’s future roles can be filled by current employees, assuming that adequate programs and training are in place.

According to the 2022 Talent Trends research, 68% of talent leaders in Poland say that internal mobility has had a positive impact on their business over the past year. Fifty-two percent (52%) say their organization is investing more in internal talent mobility — a 14-point increase from last year (38%). This is on top of the 64% who say they have already made investments in this area to enhance their recruitment efforts.

Companies are wise to investigate the ways in which upskilling and reskilling can create new opportunities for their people while helping the organization build skills for the future. This approach can also help ensure employee engagement, satisfaction and retention — people feel valued by their organizations when they invest in their skills development.

At the same time, business services sector employers should also consider how training and skilling can help them better recruit new talent to the organization. Randstad Sourceright is seeing a trend toward hiring for human potential, rather than experience, as a result. When faced with a limited talent pool, employers are focusing less on demonstrated experience and more on people’s ability to quickly gain the skills needed to perform the work. When they hire people with the right aptitude or capacity to learn, they can quickly accelerate training to develop high-value skill sets in these individuals.

Citing data from EMSI Burning Glass and The Conference Board, Wall Street Journal reports that as many as 1.4 million jobs may open up to people without university degrees over the next five years if employers continue this trend. And, by eliminating educational thresholds, business services employers can encourage candidates of various socioeconomic backgrounds, and who may not have had the means to attend university, the chance to showcase their skills.

According to Gartner, just 16% of new hires have the skills their employers need at the time of hire and in the future. The consulting firm suggests companies may achieve better hiring outcomes if they focus their search and attraction strategies on potential and not just on experience or education. Many companies in the IT industry, with which the business services sector now competes, are already taking this approach.

Investing in the right skills development programs for both existing employees and potential new hires is to the benefit of employers who are seeking skills and talent who are seeking to remain relevant in today’s market, truly creating a win-win situation for all.

03. passionately protect diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

It’s clear that companies are connecting the dots when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at work, but the 2022 Talent Trends data shows they may not be doing enough to protect their goals.

In Poland, 84% of human capital leaders say DEI at work is fundamental to attracting, engaging and retaining talent (compared to the 76% who say the same globally), and 71% are actively promoting their DEI goals to candidates. But when it comes to practice vs. theory, 78% of Polish employers believe DEI is embedded in their talent strategies (compared to 86% globally) and a mere 38% in Poland say their hiring practices supported their diversity goals in 2021. This suggests that organizations may have put their DEI initiatives on the back burner as they continued to manage operational emergencies and increased hiring demand last year.

Randstad Sourceright ABSL Business Services Report - DEI actions

How can business services companies sustain the momentum behind their DEI efforts to widen their talent pools? Human capital leaders that dedicate budgets to update their recruitment practices, broaden inclusion and belonging training, and engage more diverse professionals throughout the talent life cycle will keep their businesses on track.

In an effort to build more inclusive cultures, businesses are implementing a range of initiatives, from creating tools for allyship and programs dedicated to developing and promoting diverse talent, to focusing on more inclusive family leave policies and global pay equity frameworks and better supporting people with disabilities at work. Flexible working practices remain a strong strategy for employers seeking to attract and retain more diverse talent who may be located outside of typical recruitment markets or for those with caregiver responsibilities.

And the benefits are clear. In Poland, 48% of employers say their DEI strategies improved employer brand reputation. Thirty-six percent (36%) say they benefit from talent with a broader range of talents, skills and experiences. Beyond this, 73% believe DEI practices that are evident and embedded in the organization are important to candidates, making it a true advantage when it comes to attracting great people.

04. shift ‘build, buy or borrow’ strategies for the digital economy

A complete talent strategy has always relied on a balance of acquiring permanent workers, upskilling existing employees and deploying contingent talent for flexibility. For many organizations, configuring the right mix of these different talent categories is key to an effective and agile workforce. Now, nearly two years into the accelerated digital transformation journey caused by the pandemic, companies are realizing they need to adapt that mix as a result.

With hiring bottlenecked due to record talent demand and millions opting out of the labor market, companies are looking for alternatives to permanent hiring to get work done. This includes more temporary staffing, freelancers and even automation. Globally, seventy-one percent (71%) of companies plan to shift more work to contingent, project or contract this year — the highest percentage in Talent Trends history, and a 15-point increase from last year. And, in Poland, 42% report they have already converted more permanent positions to temporary or freelance roles last year.

This shift goes hand-in-hand with reskilling and upskilling trends as employers seek ways to stay current with business demand. According to a survey conducted by the International Labour Organization, most businesses (65%) took active measures to upskill and reskill their employees even during the pandemic.

Uncertainty has led talent leaders to reconsider their strategies around different work arrangements. By using more flexible and internal resources, the business services sector can gain more control over their talent supply and thrive in the digital economy.

05. inspire creativity and purpose in the age of hybrid working

Since the beginning of the pandemic, human capital leaders have grappled with the work-from-home dilemma. But the data shows productivity isn’t suffering; a majority of talent leaders in Poland (56%) say their permanent workforce was more productive during the past year — 25 points higher than the 31% who said the same in Randstad Sourceright’s 2021 Talent Trends research. Talent leaders in this market also report higher productivity for contingent talent, rising from 30% in 2021 to 52% in 2022.

Randstad Sourceright ABSL Business Services Report - productivity

Why, then, are some still wary to offer flexible working arrangements long-term? While the data shows productivity isn’t suffering, some businesses may feel remote work impacts collaboration and, as a result, creativity.

Rather than focusing on how to optimize a hybrid workforce as some return to the office, a more useful conversation centers around how the business services sector can instill a sense of purpose that helps their workforce transcend geographic boundaries. By fostering a culture that creates passion and common goals, business services organizations can drive better performance through meaning, new ways of collaboration using technology and process evolution. This allows for businesses to offer the flexible arrangements their people so strongly desire, without compromising the quality of work delivered.

As more companies plan for hybrid working in 2022, they must re-imagine the workplace to reinforce purpose and mission, and to limit burnout. They must consider workspace configuration, how to best manage those who will work both off- and on-site, and how flexibility expands beyond just location to working hours, for example.

Frequent and authentic communication will be critical to motivation teams, driving engagement and inspiring creativity. When leaders ensure people understand and believe in the company's mission and goals, as well as how they individually contribute at a team level, they will help them see the purpose of their hard work. Even small gestures, such as celebrating shared wins, delivering honest and transparent communications, recognizing great work, and encouraging skills development can drastically improve the talent experience, helping to attract and retain people in today’s competitive market.

Learn more about these trends and more in the 2022 Talent Trends Report.

*This content originally appears in the Association of Business Services Leaders (ABSL) Business Services Sector in Poland 2022 report, and is published here with permission from ABSL.

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