Major Factors That Affected Talent Retention and Acquisition in 2022

Picture collage of Grace Blue senior leadership team in black and white

As we reach the close of 2022, we asked our global leadership team to reflect on the many conversations that they have had with business leaders about talent, recruitment, retention, and how to build the very best teams. What can we learn from the year we have just experienced? Key themes emerged …

Geo-political uncertainty is affecting all talent

“The world has faced a rollercoaster of a ride over the last 2.5years – from pre-Covid optimism to Covid despair to post-Covid resurgence to war in Ukraine, an energy crisis, and impending recession – an unprecedented up and down ride in such a short period of time.

Our world of advertising and marketing has probably had the steepest ride of the lot which has required all of us to be brave enough to go for it when going up and hanging on when going down. This has required courage, resilience, and confidence to survive the current challenges.” Ian Priest, Global Chairman

 “We must never think a crisis is over and instead keep looking for the new opportunities that arise. Historic success does not predict future succession. All businesses need to be future horizon planning – thinking 3-4 years in advance about the talent they will need and the teams they are building to cope with the ever-shifting macro environment.” Linzi Cameron, Managing Partner

“Here in Asia, we have seen in China, you can’t take anything for granted. A country that was back to work post the Coronavirus outbreak in April 2020 has,due to the zero covid policy, seemingly gone backwards having a significant impact on the economy, a growth engine for most organisations’ APAC business. There has been the move towards a domestic focus in China since March 2021, but the bigger societal challenges to restrictions around personal movement and travel (which have led to recent protests), as well as strict quarantines have led to a more uncertainty for residents. This has caused some strong talent (both international and local) to seek a move out and there has been a refocusing in Singapore as an APAC hub for many companies. Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

 The return to office is complicated

We are seeing different approaches to how employers and employees are feeling about return to office working. In the UK, there seems to have been a transition back to office working with it varying between businesses on how many days are required. It has felt like many have needed help in navigating the return. The benefits of returning to an office, however, far outweigh the cost savings of not. Sarah Skinner, CEO, EMEA

Talent is in demand, and the best can demand what they want

“2022 felt like another year of survival on the talent acquisition side. In Asia after the ’great recalibration’, natural attrition, restructuring post-Covid; recruiting ’business as usual‘ talent to meet the everyday demands of a business was the focus. In the main there was not as much investment in bringing in disruptive, lateral talent, to create a step change. We have seen that , a trend where companies chose to import expertise – bringing in external consultants to troubleshoot big strategic issues on a project basis. This was a low risk, low-cost option to bring in fresh thinking, with less pressure on ROI.” Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC

 “Hiring should never be about ‘panic buying’ – we urge all our clients to do it properly and do it well. Investing in recruiting and retaining the right talent pays dividends in the longer term.” Sarah Skinner, CEO, EMEA

2022 saw culture and lifestyle businesses continuing to grow and thrive as the world came back to “normal”.  Competition for consumer spend remained, with these industries having to continue to constantly strive for innovation. Talent-wise, this meant an increase in the demand for candidates in the roles of the Business Developer, Marketer, and Strategist. Tim Palmer, Managing Partner – Sports, Media & Entertainment

“Even with recent layoffs and a potential recession around the corner, employers still need to work hard to sell candidates on their organizations and open roles. Our post-pandemic world has fundamentally shifted, and that means candidates are still selective, weighing organizations and opportunities through a lens that evaluates the current – and future – role. They know what they want, and most importantly, they know what they DON’T want.” Erin Mastel, Director

 “The significant increase in compensation we saw in 2021 did not correct in 2022 – if anything, comp packages continue to go higher, particularly for candidates from diverse backgrounds. Clients are getting creative in how they compensate talent, pulling all the levers they can to close a search in this incredibly competitive talent market. The good news for the industry is that we are seeing the pay gap contract in some disciplines.” Debra Sercy, US Managing Partner

 Businesses must invest in their culture

 “The fundamentals of business may go in or out of fashion but focussing on a healthy culture, clear product market fit and making a profit (or having a clear path to one) is critical. We are seeing this backfire at the end of a long boom cycle in tech right now – ‘growth at all costs’ is not a long-term strategy.” Jay Haines, Founder

 “In what has been another turbulent year for the agency world, those agencies which have been really clear on their proposition – that know what they do well and have focused versus trying to be all things to all men – have benefitted from this and will continue to do so. In the scrabble to maximise client revenues the temptation is towards diversification but there is definitely value in knowing what you do well and being true to this.” Natalie Napier, Managing Partner, Agency

“The best leaders are focusing on what the business is brilliant at and not getting distracted by diversifying. They are leading teams with a clear focus and being wise with investments, making sure not to invest ahead of guaranteed income.” Juliet Timms, Founder

“Leaders should devote more time to culture, with a strong focus on mental health. I spoke with one CEO, who explained we’ve experienced our third year of global hardship , with each year bringing more uncertainty and fear for people and businesses. If you truly are to be a leader of people, you need to nurture your talent, as they are the means by which you to achieve success. Addressing how we make money is as important as making it. Mental Health Programs should not be initiatives; they should be endemic.” Helen Duffy, CEO & Partner, APAC


If you’d like to talk more about these themes and your own experiences with talent retention and acquisition this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Grace Blue.