Why more available talent doesn’t mean the EX can be neglected in 2024


This blog is a taste of our latest Talent Insights guide. For deeper insights and tips on strengthening the EX in 2024, we recommend you download our Talent Insights guide here.

For the first time in years, there are some encouraging signs that the acute labour shortages that have plagued industries like aged care, childcare, hospitality and retail is easing. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that job vacancies decreased by 8.9% (37,900 vacancies) in the three months to August 2023 (seasonally adjusted).

The overall reduction in job vacancy rates may be due to Australia re-opening its borders. The number of skilled migrant workers as at 31 July 2023 stood at 132,000, not far off the 30 June 2019 figure of 143,000. The number of Working Holiday Visas and Student Visas have also come back higher than those seen in mid-2019 (for more insights on these visa trends click here).  

While the ABC has reported that the 2023 migration uplift might be a one-off surge and that the intake of foreign students in particular needs to be sustainable, for now it might mean more labour for desperate employers.

 What does this mean for the EX?

 Despite these encouraging signs, it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. Skills shortages may be easing, but they aren’t disappearing. The Skills Priority List released by Jobs and Skills Australia in October shows that 36% of occupations assessed are in shortage. This indicates a lack of people who have the essential technical skills or other (non-technical) qualities that employers consider are important; or those with the right technical skills and other qualities aren’t willing to apply for the vacancies under current pay and working conditions.

That last point about pay and conditions leads to the bad news: while there might potentially be more talent available, there’s a real risk that the recent employee experience (EX) improvements made for frontline workers might be erased. That is, greater autonomy and flexibility, better pay and conditions, more career opportunities and professional development options.

With the employer/employee dynamic shifting back to employers for the first time in years, there might be a temptation to slip back into ‘old ways’ where the foundational needs of workers are neglected, resulting in high employee turnover, poor engagement and productivity, and low trust in management.

There’s already evidence that the trust in leadership and goodwill that was built up during the dark days of the pandemic as employers generally ‘did the right thing’ by their employees may be faltering. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer found that just 56% of surveyed Australians trust their own CEO, a 5% decline from 2022. This was the sharpest decline out of other groups, including government leaders, journalists, and CEOs of other organisations. 

A global survey by PwC asked employees what builds trust. Unsurprisingly, it’s many of the same elements that make up the EX. Ranking highly were elements such as: ‘pays me appropriately’, ‘communicates clearly’, ‘offers me flexibility’, and ‘recognises my contributions’.

The opportunity: 5 tips to become employee-centric

 It doesn’t have to be like this. Humanforce’s intelligent, compliant human capital management (HCM) suite helps employers navigate choppy waters and create truly employee-centric work experiences. From onboarding to smarter rostering, through to financial perks and benefits and performance management, in-depth people metrics and reporting, our software can help.

Here are five tips to ensure your organisation continues to prioritise and strengthen the EX in 2024:

  1. Know your deskless employees’ motivations – and treat them like people, not just workers: The concept of the employee value proposition (EVP) has changed significantly in recent years, primarily due to the realisation that employees are not mere names on a spreadsheet but people with aspirations, dreams, goals and priorities. COVID-19 also demonstrated that work is a subset of life, not separate from it. Humanforce’s Performance Management solution can help build a deeper understanding of your employees.

  2. Listen to the voice of your employees: Whether it’s through regular catch-ups with direct managers, targeted and regular pulse surveys or more in-depth but less frequent engagement surveys, or stay and exit interviews, aim to make it easy for people to share their concerns, to suggest improvements, or to put forward fresh ideas. However, just be sure to follow through on any feedback obtained. Our Employee Engagement solution can help gauge employee sentiment so that proactive steps can be taken to improve the EX.

  3. Empower workers: For deskless, frontline workers, being able to view timesheets and rosters, change availability status, access payslips, and request leave on-the-go via a mobile app, without involving direct managers or HR, is a step in the right direction towards employee self-empowerment. All these functions and more are available through Humanforce’s Workforce Management suite. 

  4. Offer greater flexibility: Flexible work isn’t just about the location at which work is undertaken. It’s also about providing more autonomy and choice about the hours worked. Leaders need to assess staffing requirements to ensure operations run as needed, without the risk and expense of over- or under-staffing, while also ensuring employees get a balance of consistency and flexibility. The ability for employees to bid on preferred shifts and swap shifts with colleagues, as offered through Humanforce’s Rostering & Scheduling solution

  5. Review the benefits on offer – and prioritise health and wellbeing: The physical and physiological pressures on frontline work can be unrelenting. Initiatives and benefits for physical, mental and financial health should be priorities in 2024. A holistic financial wellbeing benefits suite like Humanforce Thrive combines tools, education, and resources to help employees progress towards their goals – such as paying off debts or saving to buy a house – and creates lasting behavioural change.

Whatever 2024 brings, Humanforce is dedicated to helping our customers optimise the EX they can offer to their frontline workers with the aid of technology. If employers can build upon the progress already made towards improving the EX, they’ll reap the benefits of happier, healthier, and more engaged workers.

For deeper insights on what might potentially happen to talent availability and the impact this will have on the EX in 2024, download our Talent Insights guide here.

About Humanforce

Humanforce is the best-in-one platform for frontline and flexible workforces, offering a truly employee centred, intelligent and compliant human capital management (HCM) suite – without compromise. Founded in 2002, Humanforce has a 2300+ customer base and over half a million users worldwide. Today, we have offices across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

Our vision is to make work easier and life better by focusing on the needs and fulfilment of frontline workers, and the efficiency and optimisation of businesses.

Contact us for more information about how Humanforce can automate and simplify all aspects of people management in your organisation.