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BelFlex Insights: Staffing Trends Today & in The Year Ahead

Our regional leaders take on the issues driving the industry

In large part, the 2018 predictions for the staffing industry very much came true. The year’s challenges seemed to boil down to two issues: hard-to-find talent and a rising emphasis on even harder-to-find technical skills. December is a great time to reflect on the year and determine how to use any lessons learned to your advantage in the year ahead.

To recap the year in staffing, we asked BelFlex regional leaders for their insights on everything from client challenges, existing and emerging issues and what’s in store for 2019. Here’s a look at what they had to share.

What were the biggest side effects of the talent shortage in 2018?

What happens when there’s no one available to fill open roles? Two of the biggest side effects mentioned by our team were “retention issues” and “longer time-to-fill cycles.” Both of these, of course, lead to significant financial and productivity implications. And each of these issues makes the other one more detrimental. When it takes a long time to backfill roles, retention is a high priority to lessen the impact, and vice versa.

How are companies dealing with the talent shortage?

For many companies, accepting and working within the new normal of this challenging job market can be tough. “In several cases over the year, educating (providing data and sharing experiences) some of our customers about the realities of the job market has been a challenge,” said one of our regional managers. But that’s where a good staffing partner comes in. He shared that “one customer implemented some of our suggestions and, in turn, our placements are up 150% at their location.”

How can companies better retain their talent?

Due to the talent shortage, many workers have a the-grass-is-always-greener mentality, since it’s likely they’ll find another job quickly. It’s been a challenge for businesses to retain workers who are continually moving from company to company. One BelFlex employee shared that barriers to retention include “inadequate on-boarding programs, pay wage differences and non-existent employee engagement and retention programs.” A focus on these areas is a great place to start if your retention rate is dropping at your own organization.

Is there any way to offset the skills gap that many industries are facing?

While there’s no way to create more workers physically, it IS possible, however, to grow the talent pool by making more people qualified for open positions. One of our leaders suggests that businesses can do this by “increasing wages, training and development opportunities.”

Your staffing partner should let you know if your wages are below industry average, or are becoming a roadblock to accessing qualified talent. Raising wages opens up any unfilled positions for consideration by workers with higher rate requirements. Offering on-the-job training creates opportunities for workers who are partially qualified but eager to learn. And, lastly, creating a development program can have a lasting impact on reducing the skills gap in the future.

The changing political environment has a cause-and-effect relationship with the way many companies do businesses. Any major developments that impacted staffing in 2018?

Many companies have long held standard policies when it comes to employee drug testing, but the legalization of marijuana is forcing business owners to re-think how they approach it. For adults 21 and over, the drug is legal in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, while 33 states have legalized medicinal marijuana.

What’s important to watch unfold is “the impact it will have on the employment market,” cautioned one of our leaders. While the answer will certainly vary from industry to industry and role to role, company policymakers will need to re-write a portion of their policy handbooks in the coming year.

Which one word would you use to describe the road ahead in 2019?

Our favorite two responses? “Opportunistic” and “promising.” Many of us at BelFlex feel this way. Not only is the use of contingent labor on the rise, but companies are becoming increasingly thoughtful and forward-looking when it comes to their contingent workforce strategies.

We’ve had many more clients approach us this year for best practices around managing their contractors, which tells us that they’re becoming a much more integral part of their workforce. Learn more about BelFlex’s partnering approach here.

There you have it. We extend thanks to our team for sharing their insights, and our clients and candidates for trusting us with their employment initiatives this year. We can’t wait to welcome you back to our blog in 2019 with a fresh perspective on the staffing industry and the trends and news impacting businesses.

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