2023 Hiring and Retention Panel Highlights: Light After Dark

Posted on December 20, 2022

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Employee ExperienceEmployee RetentionLeadership & Ethics

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On December 7, we hosted our latest Searchlight Light After Dark community event series, a community hub and series by People people, for People people. We partnered with Gem, the operating system for modern recruiting, to host an evening of networking and learning about 2023 Trends in Hiring and Retention. The topic was timely and urgent, our three expert panelists were thoughtful & inspiring, and the competition to win Networking Bingo was intense.  

The highlight of the event was the panel discussion including:

Our panel captured everyone’s attention by jumping directly into deep, frank conversation: such as a) the state of the economy and how it’s affecting hiring, b) retention in a time of high uncertainty, c) how to go through layoffs with transparency, and d) how organizations can live out their commitment to DEIB as other priorities like profitability and financial sustainability compete for leaders’ attention.  

Here’s some of the highlights from the LAD Panel:

Hiring in 2023 will be about telling the story of the company mission

Due to the economic downturn, tech layoffs, and a more conservative VC market, 2023 will look much different from the last several years. Employees are nervous about how these shifts will affect their jobs and careers. Our panelists discussed how hiring and TA can succeed in this new environment. Recruiters need to be truly great at engaging candidates. According to Paula, “The storyline for why a candidate would want to come and work at your company is very different. In a world where high growth is no longer ubiquitous and perks & benefits get pulled back, what is the value proposition for a new employee to come on board?” She suggested talent teams focus on employees’ career development: what they will learn and how they will grow at your company. Tell the up and coming talent that “this is where they get Good!” Krystle agreed that it’s a good time to give employees a clearer line into how their work affects the organization and its mission. 

Heather also suggested using the next year to revisit any programs that were built quickly and could use another rev before growth ramps back up again. Krystle also emphasized the benefits to having more time to spend on each hire, saying “Strategic planning is more important now that every new hire is essential – there’s an opportunity to slow down and be more intentional about each hire.”  

Integrating Systems and Data

All the panelists agreed that the next year was a prime opportunity to make better use of data. Krystle urged people leaders to use systems that talk to one another to make full use of the smaller teams they’ll likely be working with. Paula added that if your tools don’t talk to one another, now is the time to experiment with them and try new things. In her words, “Data enables the talent team to speak to talent in the marketplace and communicate back the impact of that work.” 

Organizations must intentionally support DEIB programs in the face of layoffs

When asked about reports that women and people of color were first to be affected by layoffs, the panelists acknowledged that the coming years will be a test for companies’ commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging programs.

Paula explained the issue as, “What is our organization’s commitment to DEIB and how have we lived that? Did we just build early-career pipelines and then lay all of those new hires off? Or does the program hinge on a few motivated hiring managers? Organizations need a data-driven approach to understand themselves, how diverse they really are (i.e. is the company truly diverse at all levels or does it just have a few pockets of diversity), and how layoffs will affect that.” She acknowledged that tech and startup executives may lose focus on DEIB as they become more concerned with profitability and survival, but argued that “quite possibly part of your survival strategy is to have a better DEIB program.”

Heather added that to keep making progress towards DEIB goals, organizations need to continue their commitment to retention activities and make sure they’re engaging with ERG leaders, especially after layoffs, to understand their feelings and concerns. 

Importance of Transparency

All three panelists agreed that being as transparent as possible will help people leaders guide their employees through the uncertainty of 2023. This helps employees understand the company mission, and can help alleviate some of their fears and uncertainty. The panel encouraged attendees to be honest about upcoming changes and layoffs if that fits with company culture. This can better set affected employees up for success in the future. For example, Freshbooks made sure that all departing employees in their recent round of layoffs continued working on projects until the very end to build more experience to be prepared for a competitive labor market.

As always, Light After Dark is a community hub by People People, for People People. We hope you have a good holiday, a happy new year, and come back to the next LAD event in 2023!

Kerry Wang

Co-Founder & CEO Kerry is the co-founder and CEO of Searchlight. After studying both Org Psychology and Computer Science at Stanford, she loves nerding out on all things people, psychology, and tech. On the weekend, you’ll find her reading a book or watching reality TV.

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