Survey: Recruiting and Retaining Workers Is Getting Easier

Good news for businesses! A new survey shows signs of relief in the fight for talent. While the US labor market remains competitive, recruitment and retention challenges appear to be easing.

“The steps companies have taken to attract workers are paying off, but more than half still report difficulty finding talent. To broaden the pool of job candidates, companies can not only accept alternative credentials, but also open positions to remote workers—which has the added benefit of providing flexibility so they’re more likely to stay,” said Robin Erickson, PhD, Vice President, Human Capital, The Conference Board.

The survey found a clear link between retention challenges and work arrangements: Only 15% of HR leaders at organizations that allow employees to choose where they work reported it was difficult to retain workers. That’s compared to 45% of HR leaders who expressed difficulty retaining workers at organizations where on-site work is mandated.

This survey of 216 US human resource executives was conducted from March 17 through April 8. It is the sixth survey in the Reimagined Workplace series. Insights from the survey include:

Recruiting office workers has gotten easier, but manual workers remain harder to find.

  • Professional and office workers: Organizations reporting difficulty finding qualified workers from this group fell 37 percentage points, from its high of 84% in 2022 to 47% in 2024.
  • Industry and manual services workers: Organizations reporting difficulty finding qualified workers from this group fell 23 percentage points from its high of 88% in 2023 to 65% in 2024.

Retaining workers is also less challenging.

  • Professional and office workers: Organizations reporting difficulty retaining qualified workers from this group fell 27 percentage points, from its high of 64% in 2022 to 37% in 2024.
  • Industry and manual services workers: Organizations reporting difficulty retaining qualified workers from this group fell 26 percentage points from its high of 73% in 2022 to 47% in 2024.
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Mandating on-site work may drive your employees away.

  • When on-site work is mandated by an organization, 45% of HR leaders express difficulty retaining workers.
  • When on-site work is strongly encouraged, HR leaders experience a similar level of difficulty (44%) retaining workers.
  • When organizations allow employees to choose where they work, only 15% of HR leaders reported it was difficult to retain workers.
  • Voluntary turnover was twice as high for fully on-site workers than for hybrid or fully-remote workers (16% vs. 8%).

HR leaders say hybrid work improves work-life balance, job satisfaction, recruitment, and retention.

  • 87% of HR leaders with a hybrid model say hybrid work has improved work-life balance.
  • 84% say it improved job satisfaction. (This data mirrors our 2024 Job Satisfaction report which found that hybrid workers reported the highest level of overall job satisfaction.)
  • 79% say hybrid work improved their ability to attract and retain talent.

HR leaders are focused on the near term for AI.

  • 50% of HR leaders agree that experimenting with pilots and use cases is a top priority regarding the use of AI.
  • 35% are advocating for AI governance policies.
  • 27% are supporting the creation and fulfillment of new roles that bring AI expertise to the organization.
  • 21% are implementing reskilling strategies for job roles that may be taken over by AI.

“There is a clear eagerness among HR leaders to start exploring how AI can add value to their companies and functions. As they start engaging with this technology, they’ll want to be mindful that AI initiatives are ethically sound, compliant with regulations, and support the organization’s key objectives, priorities, and values in a cost- effective manner. Doing so will better position them to minimize the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities,” said Diana Scott, Leader of the US Human Capital Center at The Conference Board.

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