Recruitment News Round-up. THE BRUTAL TRUTH #19

Recruitment News Round-up. THE BRUTAL TRUTH #19.

by Howard Greenwood, 19th January 2024

In edition #19 of THE BRUTAL TRUTH, we aim to take a candid look at what the top TEN Workforce Trends will be in 2024. We will turn our focus on Toxic Culture v Toxic Employee and how this affects a high-performing business. We have reviewed the REC and KPMG UK Report Jobs.

Unveiling the Top 10 Workplace Trends in 2024: A Glimpse into the Future of Work.

As technology evolves and societal dynamics shift, the workplace undergoes constant transformation. 2024 promises to bring about several trends redefining how we work, collaborate, and engage with our professional environments. From integrating advanced technologies to prioritising employee well-being, here are the top 10 workplace trends Jump expected to shape the professional landscape in 2024.

Hybrid Work Models Take Center Stage

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, and in 2024, hybrid work models are now the new norm. Companies are embracing flexible working, allowing employees to work remotely and on-site. This trend has been fueled by the realisation that a balanced work environment boosts productivity, fosters innovation, and enhances employee satisfaction. However, in 2024, the trend will start reversing as more companies and employees return to the office. The reverse is beginning to happen for some industries. Employees are missing the office environment, staff and clients are missing that personal interaction, and the well-being of working from home is starting to reverse as the solitude is now having a significant impact on employees’ health and well-being; the one thing that has not changed is the desire to have a better work-life balance.

AI and Automation Reshape Job Roles

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies are redefining job roles across various industries. Routine and repetitive tasks will be automated, freeing up employees to focus on creative and strategic aspects of their work. Companies will invest in upskilling their workforce to adapt to these changes and ensure a smooth transition.

Focus on Employee Well-being

The importance of employee well-being will continue to gain prominence in 2024. Companies will prioritise mental health initiatives, flexible work schedules, and comprehensive wellness programs. Recognising the direct correlation between a healthy, engaged workforce and overall productivity, organisations will invest in creating supportive and inclusive work environments. Employee retention has registered hugely as a cost to a business; one of the critical factors in increasing retention is employee well-being. Will the hire-and-fire mentality that exists in recruitment change? Will the 60%+ attrition rate in year one start to fall significantly as recruitment agencies and clients embrace a more robust recruitment strategy to attract and, more importantly, retain staff?

Increased Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will remain a critical focus for workplaces in 2024. Companies will strive to create diverse teams that reflect various perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. Efforts to eliminate biases in recruitment, promotion, and compensation will be amplified, fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture. However, some feel DE&I may die away due to global economic issues and the considerable skill shortage, as all employers look to employ people in their business irrespective of the diversity quota.

Rise of Virtual Collaboration Tools

Virtual collaboration tools will continue to evolve, becoming more sophisticated and integral to the work process. Video conferencing, project management, and communication platforms will undergo enhancements to facilitate seamless collaboration among remote and hybrid teams. Augmented and virtual reality technologies may also significantly enhance virtual interaction with a company’s client base. Could virtual interaction considerably improve the start of the candidate journey?

Continuous Learning and Development

In the dynamic landscape 2024, continuous learning and development will be crucial for staying competitive. Recruitment owners must invest in robust training programs, mentorship initiatives, and online learning platforms to empower employees to acquire new skills and adapt to evolving job requirements. Lifelong learning will be embraced as a cornerstone of professional growth and will be a drive in employee retention and increasing customer satisfaction regarding customer service. Retain your employees, retain your clients.

Greater Embrace of Sustainability Practices

Corporate social responsibility and sustainable practices will be at the forefront of organisational priorities. Companies will adopt eco-friendly policies, reduce carbon footprints, and implement sustainable supply chain practices. Employees will seek employers committed to environmental responsibility, aligning their personal values with their workplace choices.

Enhanced Focus on Cybersecurity

With the increasing prevalence of remote work and the digitalisation of business operations, cybersecurity will be a top priority. Organisations will invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data, ensure the privacy of remote employees, and safeguard against evolving cyber threats. Employee training on cybersecurity best practices will become standard.

Evolution of Leadership Styles

In response to changing workplace dynamics, leadership styles will evolve in 2024. Leaders will emphasise empathy, adaptability, and effective communication to navigate uncertainties and inspire their teams. Hierarchical structures may give way to more collaborative and transparent leadership approaches that encourage input from all levels of the organisation. 2024 will be the year that starts the levelling up of the entry management line. After all, the management line is the most influential in the whole business, but the one that gets the least training is often quoted as the one that is a catalyst for poor employee retention.

Rise of Gig Economy and Flexible Work Arrangements

The gig economy will continue to expand, offering workers alternative employment arrangements. Freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers will be more significant in the workforce. Organisations will adapt to this trend by implementing flexible hiring models, allowing them to tap into specialised skills as needed. Working for yourself in the gig economy will and is already creating a massive drain on the Gen Z talent pool and the baby boomers generation.

As we enter 2024, the workplace will be shaped by technological advancements, cultural shifts, and a growing emphasis on employee well-being. Companies that embrace these trends and proactively adapt to the evolving landscape will attract top talent and thrive in the dynamic and competitive world of work. The key lies in fostering a workplace culture that values innovation, inclusivity, and the continuous development of its greatest asset—its people.

Unraveling Workplace Dynamics: Toxic Culture vs. Toxic Employee – A Battle for High Performance.

Maintaining a high-performing culture is crucial for sustained success in the complex tapestry of organisational dynamics. However, this delicate balance can be disrupted by either a toxic culture or a toxic employee.

Understanding the difference between the two is essential for all recruitment agency leaders aiming to foster a healthy work environment, and let’s be honest, as an industry, we do not have the best reputation on this front, and if you disagree with that then 60%+ attrition rate in year one, and 43% overall, says different. Having worked in and dealt with both, I will explore the distinctions between a toxic culture and a toxic employee and assess which has a more detrimental impact on a high-performing culture.

Toxic Culture:

A toxic culture refers to the prevailing atmosphere within a company, shaped by its values, behaviours, and norms. It can manifest in various ways, such as poor communication, lack of transparency, a culture of fear, and discrimination. In a toxic culture, employees may feel disengaged, stressed, and demotivated, leading to decreased productivity and an overall decline in the quality of work.

Toxic cultures often emerge when leadership fails to address systemic issues, tolerates inappropriate behaviour, or neglects employee well-being. This hostile environment can spread like wildfire, affecting every aspect of the organisation, significantly hindering its ability to maintain high performance, and creating a revolving door company which cannot hold on to its most valuable asset, its employees.

Toxic Employee:

On the other hand, a toxic employee is an individual whose behaviour has a detrimental impact on the workplace. This can include bullying, gossiping, consistently undermining colleagues, and a lack of teamwork. Toxic employees can create a hostile environment, fostering negativity and diminishing team morale.

While the actions of a toxic employee are more localised, the ripple effect can be substantial. Other team members may feel demoralised, stressed, or hesitant to collaborate, leading to a decline in overall team performance and high attrition. Identifying and promptly addressing toxic behaviour is essential to prevent it from spreading and infecting the entire organisational culture.

Which is Worse for Destroying a High-Performing Culture?

Determining whether a toxic culture or a toxic employee is worse for destroying a high-performing culture is challenging, as both can have severe consequences. However, the impact of a toxic culture tends to be broader and more pervasive.

A toxic culture can be likened to a root cause, influencing every aspect of the organisation. It sets the tone for interactions, expectations, and overall employee experience. In contrast, a toxic employee, while damaging, may represent a symptom of a deeper cultural issue. The company owner/board creates the culture, and it seeps into every aspect of the business through the management spine and is exaggerated by toxic employees.

Addressing a toxic culture requires a comprehensive approach involving leadership alignment, clear communication, and systemic changes to the behaviours of the management spine and toxic employees. Cultures are shaped over time, and transforming a toxic one demands sustained effort.

In contrast, dealing with a toxic employee may involve early disciplinary action, coaching, or removal (often the best course of action, but the one taken least until it is too late), but it might not be enough to fully eradicate the harmful cultural elements that allowed their behaviour to persist.

In the battle between a toxic culture and a toxic employee, the former often proves to be more detrimental to a high-performing culture. While both elements require attention and intervention, a toxic culture serves as the breeding ground for toxic behaviours and can undermine the organisation at its core.

Leaders must recognise the signs of toxicity, whether cultural or individual, and take proactive measures to foster a positive work environment; this starts in two areas: the alignment of the management line to the core values of the business and the initial recruitment process to ensure all new employees mirror the culture.

By addressing underlying cultural issues, a company can create a foundation for sustained high performance, ensuring the well-being and success of their teams. Consistent growth and stability come from having a workforce aligned with the business’s values, where retention is high.

Year two is when a recruiter starts making money for a business, so if your culture or an employee(s) is why your recruits don’t make it past the 12-month mark, you might have a toxic culture or a toxic employee. How much is this costing the business? Well, who knows, but I can tell you it is in the thousands, most likely in the hundreds of thousands. Can you afford to lose that much?

Summary of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG’s UK Jobs Report.

The REC and KPMG’s UK Report on Jobs for January 2024 reveals a softer decline in recruitment activity at the end of 2023. Key findings include:

  1. Recruitment Activity Decline: Permanent placements and temporary billings declined in December but at softer rates than in November. Employers maintained a cautious hiring stance due to the weaker economic climate.
  2. Candidate Supply: Despite a slight easing from November’s record, the supply of candidates continued to rise sharply. Redundancies and lower hiring activity contributed to an increased pool of available candidates.
  3. Pay Growth: Rates of pay growth increased from November lows. Competition for skilled workers remained high, leading to a rise in starting pay, although the increase was the second-slowest since March 2021.
  4. Vacancies: Overall vacancies fell slightly for the third time in the past four months. Demand for permanent staff reduced for the fourth month, while temporary vacancy growth eased.
  5. Regional and Sector Variations: All four monitored English regions reported a decline in permanent staff appointments. The public sector saw an increase in permanent vacancies, while the private sector experienced a decline. Healthcare staff demand increased, emphasising the importance of supporting NHS performance.
  6. Outlook and Comments: The report suggests a muted year-end for the labour market, with businesses making redundancies and pausing hiring due to a lacklustre economic outlook. The slowdown in the labour market is easing, with hope for an upturn in 2024.
  7. Quotes: Justine Andrew, Partner and Head of Education, Skills, and Productivity at KPMG UK, highlighted the tight labour market and its impact on permanent job opportunities. Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, noted a positive sign in the labour market’s weathering the economic storm and emphasised the need for economic growth.

In conclusion, the report indicates a cautious approach to hiring, with some positive signs of easing the labour market slowdown, while challenges persist due to economic uncertainties.

To conclude, 2024 has already started, and time, as always, appears to be going faster and faster. So, what are you doing to maximise your performance and ensure that 2024 is a year of growth? Now is the time to invest in your performance and business growth; if you want to book a free 60-minute Mentoring session, please visit to review our service and fill out the form.

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