2023: A year of recruitment reinvention for UK companies hiring young staff

We’re just about to enter the world of 2024 and can’t wait to see what that has in store for us in terms of recruitment. But before we become immersed in that world, let’s first take a look back at what happened in 2023.

A challenging year for those in some sectors. The year 2023 was a whirlwind for companies seeking to attract and retain top student talent.

From navigating the cost-of-living crisis to embracing AI tools and prioritising sustainability, there was no shortage of hot topics shaping the student recruitment landscape. 

As we bid farewell to the year and gear up for a fresh start, let’s rewind and revisit some of the most insightful articles from our E4S Recruitment blog that tackled these crucial issues…

January 2023: Taming the ‘Burnout Beast

If the pandemic did anything, it was surely to act as a catalyst for taking action on mental health and the wellbeing of staff in the workplace. When you recruit graduates and school leavers, you want them to stay around and perform well in the workplace. 

We kicked off January with an article about burnout following the announcement by then New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern that she was standing down from her position because she simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to do her job effectively. 

The pressure to excel academically and professionally often eclipsed the well-being of school leavers, students and graduates, leading to a looming threat of burnout. The 16-24 year old age range are those who are most at risk of burnout

This article tackled the issue head-on, exploring strategies employers can employ to combat it. Some geographical areas experience more instances of burnout than others so employers need to be aware of figures in their area.

Strategies highlighted in this article for ways of combating burnout included:

  • Promoting healthy work-life balance through flexible schedules
  • Fostering open communication
  • Offering mental health resources

The message was clear: prioritising staff well-being wasn’t just the right thing to do, it was essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Especially the top talent of the 16-24 year old age bracket.

February 2023: The remote revolution: trusting your team to thrive

In February, we looked at how employers can trust their workforce to be productive when working remotely

We know that since the pandemic, the desire to work remotely amongst young people is high on their priority list when they are looking for a role. But how do you know, as an employer, that your new recruits are being productive and doing the work they are being paid to do?

Remote work became the new normal, and with it, trust became the cornerstone of successful team dynamics, especially for young employees navigating this new environment. 

This article offered a roadmap for building trust with remote teams. Some of the strategies employers can use are:

  • Setting clear expectations for your team of staff
  • Providing regular feedback on work and projects that have been done completed or that are underway
  • Fostering open communication channels. Although young people might want to work remotely – at least for some of the time – they still need to know you are there with encouragement and guidance when needed
  • It also explored innovative tools and practices, like project management software and virtual team-building activities, that could help maintain cohesion and engagement in a remote setting

The article concluded by reminding employers that trust wasn’t a given – it needed to be nurtured through consistent effort and a commitment to employee empowerment.

March 2023: Budget 2023: what employers needed to know

March 2023 gave us the first of two Budget Announcements for the year; both by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The March budget announcement wasn’t just about numbers – it was billed as the ‘Back To Work’ Budget, with the Chancellor saying the measures taken would get people back into the world of work. 

Our article unpacked the key takeaways for employers – how would you be affected by the measures announced?

We looked at:

  • Changes in the minimum wage that could impact the pay packets of young people – and the financial outgoings of your company. 
  • Ways to encourage people back into the workplace who have been unemployed for a long period of time or who haven’t been able to work due to long term illness or disability. 
  • If you are a small or medium-sized company that invests in your own business growth with the purchase of specialist machinery, IT and vehicle investments, some help is now available by way of the Small Business Investment Allowance. 

The article ended with a statement by the Chancellor which said he had removed the obstacles to stop businesses investing. You can read the full article about the Spring Budget’s affects on recruiters here.

As we head into 2024, you may or may not be feeling the benefits of announcements made in the Budget, depending on the sector you are working in.

April 2023: Recruiting with ‘Green Thumbs’: Eco-Conscious and Socially Responsible Hiring

With sustainability consciousness skyrocketing, our April article highlighted the growing trend of eco-conscious and socially responsible recruitment practices. 

It provided tips for attracting young talent who value companies that align with their environmental and social values. These included:

  • Showcasing a commitment to sustainability initiatives. This included looking at how staff commute to the workplace, looking at suppliers and also looking at sustainable ways to recycle and dispose responsibly. An assessment of cleaning products was also one of the suggestions
  • Highlighting diversity and inclusion efforts – Gen Z particularly values company commitments to diversity and inclusivity
  • Partnering with organisations that share similar values

By demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility, companies could position themselves as attractive employers for the eco-conscious generation, thus not missing out on top young talent.

May 2023: Startup Savvy: recruitment tips for the young demographic

In May 2023, we looked at the obstacles often faced by startup companies who are looking to recruit young talent. 

For startups looking to tap into the fresh energy and innovative spirit of student talent, this article offered practical recruitment strategies tailored to their unique needs and culture. 

There are a number of strategies that start-ups can employ when it comes to recruiting students, graduates and school leavers. Some of those strategies include:

  • Building relationships with universities and career services. This gives you a presence before the application process even begins
  • Building a positive employer brand. Again, this will attract young people to your brand before any recruitment begins and will give you a better chance of hooking in young talent
  • Attending industry events and networking with contacts in the industry
  • Defining clear job roles and expectations. Making sure young people know, for example, that if they do an Apprenticeship, they know whether or not there will be a permanent job upın successful completion of that Apprenticeship
  • Showcasing a dynamic and entrepreneurial culture. Start-up companies are often ambitious and can attract ambitious young people who want to be a part of this dynamism

Read more about our recruiting tips for start-up companies

June 2023: The power of Job Boards: Benefits of strategic recruitment practices

In June 2023, we looked at the many and varied options out there when it comes to getting word out about your job vacancies – but the main emphasis was on unlocking the power of the boards. 

Job boards should not be overlooked when it comes to attracting young talent, especially if you have particular roles to fill or you are looking for a certain dynamic. 

The article showcased the advantages of job boards such as:

  • A wider reach and increased visibility for your job ad
  • An opportunity to sell yourself as a company
  • Giving you the opportunity to save time and money – always a great advantage when it comes to recruitment
  • Access to active job seekers. People looking at job boards are often not a passive audience. They’re there for a reason – to find work
  • Offering you easy access to tracking and analytics so that you can see if your ad is working well
  • The ability to have access to a targeted audience. Some job boards specialise in particular skills groups whilst others, like e4s, attract a younger audience looking for student jobs, graduate roles and Apprenticeships as well as part time work
  • Their ease of use. If you find recruitment a nightmare, a job board can really make your life a whole lot easier

Read more here about the benefits of job boards for recruiting top young talent to your company. 

July 2023: The unfilled vacancy puzzle: solving the recruitment challenge

Are you an employer who is struggling to find the best young people to fill your vacancies? 

There are lots of vacancies out there that are notoriously difficult to fill and many remain unfilled. Depending on the sector you work in, you might be one of the people with this difficulty.

With unfilled job vacancies rising, our Summer article tackled the challenges of attracting top young talent in a competitive market.

It offered solutions for optimising recruitment processes, such as:

  • Streamlining application procedures
  • Improving employer branding
  • Offering work experience placements or internships
  • Providing clear career progression pathways
  • Highlighting positive workplace culture
  • Offering competitive compensation and benefits packages
  • Showcasing opportunities for learning and development 

Sitting down to really have an honest look at how potential applicants view your workplace and the opportunities you have an offer can really have an impact on how you advertise your future roles. 

You can read more about fixing the problem of unfilled job vacancies, here

August 2023: Embracing AI in the Workplace: Friend or Foe?

Do you feel like you are on top of the AI revolution? Or is it all still the great unknown for you?

Back in August 2023, we delved into the world of AI and asked whether it was a friend or a foe. Rather than seeing it as a threat in the workplace, we looked at it as a catalyst for efficiency and innovation. 

The rise of AI in recruitment has sparked both excitement and apprehension. This article explored how AI tools could be leveraged in areas such as:

  • The automation of repetitive tasks. This means your team of staff are freed up which can allow for more innovation in the workplace
  • More scope for flexibility. And we know that many young people are looking for flexibility options when looking for work
  • Incorporating it into your recruitment process. AI can help you to target your job ads to young people and also help to automate the application process, saving you time

The article also went on to look at the challenges that could be faced when you are looking to bring more AI systems into the workplace and the steps you can take to make sure AI is brought into the workplace successfully.

If you are looking to leverage the benefits of AI in the workplace read more here about embracing AI in the workplace

September 2023: Cost-of-Living Crisis: Rethinking employee benefits for UK students

In September 2023, we looked at the cost of living crisis – a topic that has been at the forefront of most people’s minds throughout the last few years.

Rather than it being a separate entity that can be left outside, the cost of living crisis actually affects the workplace and we looked at that subject in this article. What employers can do to reduce the impact of the cost of living crisis.

This article discussed creative ways to adapt employee benefits packages to address young employees’ needs and attract talent in a challenging economic climate. 

  • Financial stress for employees can affect their productivity. As well as the cost of living crisis, students and graduates also have a lot of student debt to deal with
  • We suggested offering flexible work arrangements as well as attractive financial packages
  • Flexible working arrangements can help to reduce commute costs – these commute costs can often take quite a chunk from salaries
  • Employers can also provide mental health resources to combat stress and explore alternative benefits like discounted gym memberships or public transport passes

By demonstrating empathy and support, companies can show they value their younger employees and create a more attractive workplace. This makes companies more attractive in future recruitment drives and also boosts staff retention. 

You can read more in our full article about how the cost of living crisis affects the workplace.

October 2023: The power of perks: Benefits beyond the pay cheque

There was no getting away from the cost of living crisis in 2023 and in December, we once more looked at how employers and employees alike are embracing benefits in the workplace.

This article was a comprehensive guide that looked beyond the traditional salaries.

As well as a fair salary, the article looked at the importance of offering attractive benefits packages that cater to Gen Z priorities:

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Career development opportunities – young people are increasingly looking for job security and the opportunity to progress in the company they are working for
  • Mentorship programs – entering the workplace can be a daunting process for some young people and mentorship can prove to be hugely valuable
  • Subsidised training courses
  • Opportunities for shadowing senior employees – work shadowing means young people can learn and develop skills and confidence through observation
  • Providing access to co-working spaces
  • Remote work options 

These are all actions that could help young people to manage their busy schedules and improve work-life balance. 

By investing in employee well-being and development, companies could create a more engaged and motivated workforce.

You can read more about how benefits and perks can both attract young people to your roles and also boost your staff retention levels

November 2023: Autumn Budget Statement 2023

Two budget statements in one year by the same Chancellor of the Exchequer – Jeremy Hunt.

In November 2023, we looked at the key takeaways from the Autumn Budget Announcement.

The Chancellor announced that the economy is improving, albeit slower than expected. We need to wait until 2027-28 for living standards to return the levels they were at pre pandemic.

  • Good news for young people who will benefit from an increase in the National Living Wage but this could prove to be a challenge for you as an employer as you will now need to find the funds to pay these higher wages
  • Some sectors will benefit from an interest rate discount
  • There was no increase in fuel duty. Good news for business owners and emploıyers acrıoss many sectors
  • Full expensing tax break made permanent

For more details on what we outlined in this article, take a look at our key takeaways

Into 2024

As we are about to embark on 2024, these insights from 2023 serve as valuable stepping stones for UK companies seeking to attract and retain the best young talent; whether that be school leavers, students or graduates.

We look forward to seeing what 2024 brings with regards to recruitment and, in particular, the recruitment of young talent. Happy new year!

If you are looking to recruit young people in 2024, take a look at what e4s has to offer.