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Majority of ‘World’s Most Attractive Employers’ Say Hiring Environment Getting Harder Over Next Year

By Universum on 02/07/2020

Universum’s Employer Branding NOW 2020 survey, now in its fifth year,  
shows best-in-class talent leaders are quickly adapting to the new-normal of Covid-19.  

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, July 2, 2020 – Universum’s much-anticipated Employer Branding NOW 2020 study, conducted during the pandemic’s surge months in early 2020, shows the World’s Most Attractive Employers do not expect a hiring lull amidst the economic slowdown. The majority (56%) say they expect the hiring environment to get harder, this despite record-high unemployment in many global markets. And 86% say recruiting needs in the coming year will be level, if not higher.  

“Fielding this year’s study during the pandemic presented an interesting snapshot,” says Richard Mosley, global vice president of strategy for Universum. “Even though hard-hit companies have been forced to lay off employees, the demand for widely in demand, mission-critical roles has not diminished. Top companies are pushing as hard as ever to lure top talent to their ranks, and employer branding remains a vital tool in achieving this.” 

Universum, the global leader in employer branding, surveyed over 1,100 human resources and talent management leaders from 49 countries from February through April 2020. The research investigates the practices of talent leaders in areas like employer branding, budgeting, technology and employee engagement; it also collects insights from the World’s Most Attractive Employers, a cohort of the top global employers as identified by job seekers around the globe.  

Among other noteworthy findings from the research:  

The World’s Most Attractive Employers are now less threatened by talent competition from startups. The share of large companies that say they are “very concerned” about growing competition for key talent from the startup sector dropped by half in 24 months. In 2018, 38% said they were very concerned; in 2020, just 17% said the same. The stability of large companies (with their large balance sheets) now appears to be a much more attractive option to job seekers.  

World’s Most Attractive Employers seek ‘learning agility’ in job candidates. It is no longer what you know, but how adept and facile you are at figuring things out. Talent leaders at top employers say “learning agility” is the single most important quality in new hires—nearly half (46%) cited it in 2020.  

Recruiters face serious challenges in 2020—despite a bigger applicant pool. While counterintuitive, the economic slowdown is creating bigger headaches for talent executives. The hunt for top talent in high-demand fields has not abated. Add to that, job openings are flooded with a higher number of applicants. Companies that migrated to data-driven decision-making and AI-powered recruiting tools will be winners in the current environment. (80% of the World’s Most Attractive Employers say they “frequently” or “always” take a data-driven approach.) 

Employer branding is a critical differentiator during a downturn. Even in a downturn, employer branding is table stakes for competitive talent brands. Just 3% of the World’s Most Attractive Employers say it’s not a top priority. And key activities related to employer branding are still going strong: 73% of the WMAE say they are maintaining or growing their internship programs in the year ahead, a compelling finding given the uncertain conditions in which the survey was conducted.  

Recruiting industry leaders are prepared for a ‘new normal.’ Recruiters have unwittingly been preparing for the ‘new normal’ of Covid-19 for a few years, with a sharp uptick in 2020. This year, 82% say they have adopted video recruiting, up from 59% last year. And “people analytics” (using technology and AI to drive smarter decisions at scale) has jumped from 28% to 43%.  

“Each year we publish the employer branding research, we see how the practice of employer branding is evolving,” says Universum CEO Mats Röjdmark. “Typically, the year-to-year changes are gradual, but this year is remarkably different. Investments that were once considered ‘nice to have’ are now mission-critical. We strongly believe that by following the practices of the World’s Most Attractive Employers, talent leaders can learn where to invest, even in a downturn.” 

To download a copy of the full Employer Branding NOW report, which includes additional research about topics such as EVPs by region, employee advocacy, data-driven recruiting and workforce planning, visit www.universumglobal.com/library/ebnow2020 

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About Universum 

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at www.universumglobal.com.