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Recruitment and Retention Improving, but Challenges Persist

Despite the U.S. labor market remaining tight, a new survey reveals that the recruitment and retention challenges facing businesses have eased. At the peak of the Great Resignation in 2022, 83% of HR leaders cited difficulty recruiting workers. Now in 2024, The Conference Board survey reveals the share reporting this dropped to 55%. Retaining workers is also becoming less challenging: only 41% of HR leaders report difficulty retaining workers compared to a high of 66% in 2022.  

“The steps companies have taken to attract workers are paying off, but more than half still report difficulty finding talent,” says Robin Erickson, PhD, vice president of human capital at The Conference Board. “To broaden the pool of job candidates, companies can not only accept alternative credentials, but also open positions to remote workers, which has the added benefit of providing flexibility so they’re more likely to stay.”  

The survey finds a clear link between retention challenges and work arrangements. Only 15% of HR leaders at organizations that allow employees to choose where they work report that it’s difficult to retain workers. That’s compared to 45% of HR leaders who express difficulty retaining workers at organizations where on-site work is mandated.  

The survey of 216 U.S. HR executives was conducted from March 17 through April 8. It is the sixth survey in the Reimagined Workplace series. Other insights from the survey include the following.  

  • Recruiting office workers has gotten easier, but manual workers remain harder to find. Among professional and office workers, organizations reporting difficulty finding qualified workers fell from its high of 84% in 2022 to 47% in 2024. Among industry and manual services workers, organizations reporting difficulty finding qualified workers from this group fell from its high of 88% in 2022 to 65% in 2024.  
  • Retaining workers is also less challenging. Among professional and office workers, organizations reporting difficulty retaining qualified workers in this group fell from its high of 64% in 2022 to 37% in 2024. And among manual service workers, organizations having trouble retaining individuals in this group fell from 73% in 2022 to 47% in 2024.  
  • Mandating on-site work may drive employees away. When on-site work is mandated by an organization, 45% of HR leaders express difficulty retaining workers. When on-site work is strongly encouraged, HR leaders experience a similar level of difficulty (44%). When organizations allow employees to choose where they work, just 15% of HR leaders report difficulty in retaining workers. Voluntary turnover is twice as high for fully on-site workers than for hybrid or fully remote workers (16% versus 8%).  
  • HR leaders say hybrid work improves work-life balance, job satisfaction, recruitment, and retention. Approximately 87% of HR leaders with a hybrid model say hybrid work has improved work-life balance, while 84% say it has improved job satisfaction. More than three-quarters (79%) say hybrid work has improved their ability to attract and retain talent.  
  • HR leaders are focused on the near term for AI. Half of HR leaders agree that experimenting with pilots and use cases is a top priority regarding the use of AI, while 35% are advocating for AI governance policies. More than a quarter (27%) are supporting the creation and fulfillment of new roles that bring AI expertise to the organization, and 21% are implementing reskilling strategies for job roles that may be taken over by AI.  

“There is a clear eagerness among HR leaders to start exploring how AI can add value to their companies and functions,” says Diana Scott, leader of the U.S. Human Capital Center at The Conference Board. “As they start engaging with this technology, they’ll want to be mindful that AI initiatives are ethically sound, compliant with regulations, and support the organization’s key objectives, priorities, and values in a cost-effective manner. Doing so will better position them to minimize the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities.”  

Tags: Flexibility, Remote Work

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