Like the rest of the world, 2020 caught us completely by surprise. Though the predictions we made at the end of 2019 were based on authoritative data and vetted sources, we didn’t see a global pandemic coming (if you did, please let us know!), much less the far-reaching effects it’s having on the working world. Many of these staffing trends and challenges still apply, despite COVID-19, so we decided to give ourselves a “report card” for how we did at the end of this article.
The Top 5 Challenges Facing Staffing in 2020
The American economy has reached the tipping point with more open jobs than there are workers to fill them. In September 2018, American job openings (and quit rate) reached a 17-year high, Bloomberg reports. To avoid candidate churn and improve hiring and retention, businesses must be aware of these top five challenges in hiring employees in 2020.
1. Talent shortages
According to the 2020 Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) site by Bullhorn, the top challenge cited by recruiters is talent shortages, which 73% say is an issue. With much of the best talent already employed, recruiters must look beyond candidates who are actively applying for jobs and use cold outreach to find talented candidates who are already working.
Professional networking site LinkedIn reports 87% of people are open to new job opportunities. It’s up to recruiters to proactively find the right fit for potential employees.
2. High competition
Less candidates equals more competition. Businesses need to make their offering more attractive than their competitors.
That’s not just in terms of financial compensation. A 2019 CNBC/Survey Monkey Workplace Happiness Index study found non-monetary job benefits are key to boost job happiness. The survey results showed 14% of people prioritized more training or learning opportunities, and 9% said more paid time off was most important to improving job satisfaction. Opportunity, contribution, autonomy, and meaning were also cited as important workplace qualities.
3. Slow hiring processes
Slow hiring processes can make your best candidates check out and move on. According to a 2017 study by Glassdoor, the average hiring process length in the United States is around 24 days. Some industries and positions may warrant shorter or longer hiring process. For example, a role in government takes about 54 days to complete the hiring process, while bars and restaurants hire in around 10 days.
If your company’s average hiring process time is longer than the industry average, you could be turning candidates off. As hiring processes drag on, a company faces the following risks:
- The candidate may not feel valued and becomes disinterested.
- The candidate is approached by a competitor and wants to work for them instead.
- The candidate is interviewing with multiple companies and takes an earlier offer.
One way to keep candidates interested is to be transparent about timelines to give them realistic expectations. Hirers need to let candidates know what they can expect from the process so they don’t lose interest and move on.
4. Increased transparency
Since many of the most talented candidates can afford to be selective, that means candidates are vetting companies just as much as businesses are evaluating candidates. There are company review sites out there, like Glassdoor, and even job search sites like Indeed feature company reviews on their listings.
This is a challenge for companies looking for candidates. Businesses must work to make involuntary turnover as smooth of a process as possible. Retention must be a priority. Engaging employees must be an integral part of business strategy to improve a company’s reputation and attract the best talent.
5. Unrealistic employer expectations
Employers that want top talent need to have realistic expectations about how to achieve that. Here are some things that can hurt hiring efforts:
- Low-ball salary offers
- Refusal to cover moving costs for an out-of-state candidate you want to hire
- No benefits like medical and dental coverage
- No 401k plan
- No workplace flexibility, like remote work options, even periodically
- No employee development opportunities or continuing education reimbursement
These are some of the benefits employees want from a job today, Harvard Business Review reports. An employer that refuses to offer a respectable wage and does not help candidates achieve work-life balance won’t be attractive.
How did we do? Our report card for 2020 Staffing Challenges:
1. Talent shortages: A/F
In this prediction, we said the high employment rate would lead to talent shortages. We expected the low unemployment to continue, and we were mistaken. Yes, we didn’t expect to see record high levels of unemployment, but the reality remains that talent shortages persist. This comes from a combination of enhanced unemployment benefits, fear of returning to work, and some barriers to working like caring for family members or a lack of access to child care.
February had the low unemployment rate of 3.5%, which shot up to 14.7% in April, and more than 40 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, according to the New York Times. We anticipate these unemployment numbers to recover as businesses reopen, but it may be a long, slow process. However, we have already seen a decrease in these numbers and businesses reopen. Although it will be a long process, many experts anticipate these numbers to continue to fall and normalize.
2. High competition: C-
As mentioned in the previous grade, we thought the thriving economy would continue to drive competition for talent. This didn’t happen for the majority of businesses. Some verticals and industries have flourished during the pandemic, so we didn’t get it completely wrong.
3. Slow hiring processes: B
We got this one mostly right. During COVID-19 and other times, slow hiring processes result in missed opportunities to fill roles. The pandemic affected the importance of the hiring process speed, but more importantly, employers are having to adjust their hiring process to a new virtual reality. Employers have had to innovate to hire talent from a distance.
4. Increased transparency: A+
Transparency, vulnerability, and empathy are the new normal. The pandemic has shown us that communicating your organization’s values through effective messaging and strategic action is absolutely crucial, especially in times of uncertainty.
5. Unrealistic employer expectations: B-
COVID-19 changed the entire calculus of employment. Though employees are still looking for high salaries and competitive benefits, they have less power to pick and choose. On the other hand, employees are coming to the table with new expectations, with 43% of employees expecting to work remotely full time, according to a national study by getAbstract. This prediction is a mixed bag, but matching prospective employees’ expectations is always a priority.
The Top 5 Staffing Trends of 2020
To face these challenges, employers are evolving their workplaces to meet the needs of candidates. Here are five staffing trends those who work in Human Resources are adapting to a smaller pool of talented candidates searching for jobs.
1. Prioritizing candidate engagement
Technology has made it easier to keep in touch with candidates and keep them engaged. Email and social media channels like LinkedIn enable always-on communication.
Texting has also become a more mainstream form of communication, with Jobvite reporting 43% of millennials accept it, 46% of Generation X are open to it, and 36% of Baby Boomers will text with recruiters. During the hiring process, ask your candidates if it’s OK to text. If they say yes, you have another way to keep them engaged.
2. Recruiting through non-traditional channels
Jobvite also reported that recruiting through social media is the norm, with 77% of hirers using LinkedIn and 63% of hirers using Facebook.
Recruiters are also moving to channels like Instagram to reach more talent and stand out, with about 25% recruiting on Instagram. Expect more innovation in finding talent, including connecting with candidates through communities like those on Slack, Reddit, and LinkedIn Groups.
3. Building brand culture
It’s not just about the job anymore. It’s about who the company is and how the company relates to the candidate.
A 2018 report by Talent Economy found millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, prioritize working for socially responsible companies – and 64% won’t take a job if the employer doesn’t align with their values.
If a company culture is negative or undefined, that can hurt recruitment efforts. Businesses must think about the characteristics that make up their ideal employees and build a culture that supports that. Businesses need to demonstrate that culture on their website and marketing materials and exemplify what drives the culture in their product or service. Candidates are taking note.
4. Going digital
Another benefit of technology for hiring is that it helps streamline hiring processes. Candidates can find all the information they want about a job online, apply through a web portal and see real-time updates on their candidacy status.
Digital technology is also improving efficiency for recruiters. Just like marketers, recruiters can use tools to track recruitment campaigns, align hiring strategies across multiple digital channels, and use A/B testing to see what components of job postings are most effective. HR professionals and recruiters must use digital analytics to improve their efforts and stay ahead of the competition.
5. All-encompassing talent management
Hiring for a single type of position can’t be the norm today. According to Forbes, 29% of all American workers have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job, and 57 million people work in the “gig economy,” which means they’re working at least one freelance/contract job even if they’re also employed full-time.
The rise of the gig economy means the best candidates for your business may not even want to work for your full-time. Or, they may be working a variety of gigs and not have a traditional full-time job at the moment.
Expect more businesses to be open to hiring remote workers, contractors, and temps in addition to full-time positions. Also, recruiters will increasingly expand their services to hire for a multitude of types of roles, too.
How did we do? Our report card for 2020 Staffing Trends:
1. Prioritizing candidate engagement: B+
COVID-19 has forced businesses to adapt and innovate. Engaging with potential candidates through all the means of communication available has been a key development in 2020, with or without the global pandemic.
2. Recruiting through non-traditional channels: B
Like the last trend, businesses have been innovative in their recruiting strategies. Though it was already antiquated, the handshake-and-paper methods of traditional recruiting have been rapidly eliminated in the past months. We can expect even more innovation in the coming months.
3. Building brand culture: B+
Culture matters through thick and thin. During the pandemic, businesses seized the day to define and broadcast their brand messaging and culture while adjusting to the new challenges of COVID-19. We anticipate increased emphasis on brand culture as the working world adapts to the “new normal.”
4. Going digital: A+
More than any other trend, the emphasis of digital staffing has been amplified by COVID-19. Suddenly, employers found themselves conducting all-video interviews, meetings, and working remotely.
5. All-encompassing talent management: A
The conventional workweek has seen a massive overhaul. Workers that have been suddenly furloughed, laid off, or received a pay-cut have taken to the gig-economy to mitigate their losses, or pivot their skillset to meet demand in peripheral verticals. Recruiters and employers that have adapted to include non-traditional roles have delivered solutions once thought impossible.
Staffing Challenges Can Be Overcome with the Right Solutions
As we covered in our recent webinar, Talent Wins: Strategies and Solutions for Winning at Recruiting & Retention in 2020, employers must shift their mindset of how they treat talent, and move from thinking of them as candidates to treating them as customers. Great talent needs to be engaged, given opportunities that align with their values and provided worthy offers in order to consider your company. There is more competition and less candidates actively looking, but with the right strategy, your company can succeed.
Watch our Webinar: Winning More Talent — It’s an Inside Job
With an economy that is showing robust signs of recovery, talent in short supply and epidemic levels of turnover, the talent challenges of the past seem like child’s play compared to the current market. Watch our Webinar, “Winning More Talent—It’s an Inside Job.”
TERRA Staffing Group has strategies to face the challenges mentioned here. We use innovative staffing services and the latest in technology to streamline hiring and find the companies we work with the best talent.