There’s been a seismic shift in employee expectations. The new labour market is more focused on whether a particular organisation positively impacts people and the planet, and will vote with their feet if unhappy. This development poses a significant challenge to leaders in the modern era who understand that new employees (especially the younger generation) represent the organisation’s future. HLB’s Survey of Business Leaders 2023 Leading through a perfect storm, shows that business leaders are apprehensive about talent shortages. The findings also show that flexibility, integrity and accountability are essential leadership traits and must be seen in areas such as talent acquisition.  

In short, the new generational workforce wants a more human-centric approach to leadership. 

Hiring challenges  

What is the current state of play? According to a separate survey by Gallup, 43% of respondents felt their organisation  positively impacted society. In turn, those respondents were twice as likely to invest in their work and 5.5 times more likely to trust corporate leadership.  

Millennials and Gen-Z workers have grown up in a world where environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have been front and center. Therefore, if leaders do not embrace the essence of ESG it will create significant challenges in the modern job market. 

Fortunately, business leaders are awakening to these challenges and expectations. In HLB’s annual survey, 61% of leaders state that access to talent is one of the key problems in the modern business world and 35% view talent acquisition as their greatest weakness. Because of this, companies need to be more flexible in all areas and introduce new initiatives or strategies to attract new personnel. They need to be accountable for every action related to the company's behaviour. In addition to being under the regulatory spotlight, they’ll also need to satisfy the expectations of consumers and potential employees. 

What matters to the new labour market 

The non- negotiables: Purpose and integrity 


In the survey, 69% of respondents agreed that having a well-defined purpose was crucial in helping to attract a more informed and purpose-driven workforce. Those companies had taken the time to clearly define and communicate the business purpose and seek to define their mission beyond simple financial performance. The leaders understand the importance of having a clearly defined purpose in an increasingly uncertain and destabilised world. 

separate survey from Gartner found that employees increasingly view work as a subset of life and not independent. They want to “feel invested” in an organisation that takes clear action according to a shared purpose. This action needs to go much further than a simple line item in an end-of-year corporate statement. 

To help define job satisfaction, workers want to see that the company can make a positive difference in the world. Companies need to back up any goals with action that, in turn, captures the soul of the organisation and is an aspirational reason for simply “being.” 


The HLB survey found that integrity was one of the most important leadership traits.  The modern workforce not only value purpose but demands the highest levels of integrity and ethical behavior. These employees and prospects alike expect business to invest in diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) initiatives as well as have a strong focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). The HLB survey found that more than half of respondents committed to a revised human resources model to meet those demands and requirements. 

To prove integrity, the company must adhere to a set of core values and ethics. They need to define a moral and ethical framework and remain accountable when deficiencies arise. 

Corporate culture and ‘tone from the top’ 

Senior leaders should be articulating and establishing the culture they envision for their business. It must be in line with the company’s strategy, values, and purpose. This is vital to ensure the long-term health of the organisation.  

Organisations looking to attract new talent need to ensure their corporate culture is firmly rooted in a leadership that genuinely believes business is about more than profit alone. Irrespective of the size, the values, and purpose of an organisation’s culture must be real and set at the top level so it can cascade down to the rest of the company.   


HLB conducts surveys and conversations with senior executives in mid-size companies to capture insights into the most pressing challenges and real-world issues. Your organisation may want some help in figuring out your approach to these hiring challenges and learning how to develop new leadership traits. If so, HLB can help. Reach out for a conversation today. 

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