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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Workforce Trends of 2015

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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December 23, 2015

Older_Couple_Blog.jpgTalent acquisition kept everyone on their toes in 2015. From leaders to recruiters to the bottom-line, a number of workforce “trends” proved otherwise, and took hold of HR departments (whether or not they were ready, willing and able). As many organizations are eager to turn the calendar page, it’s worth taking a moment to review the good, the bad and the ugly recruiting trends that shaped the 2015 workforce.

This year was the year of the hard-to-find, already-working, or passive candidate. Felt more than in any other year since the Great Recession, or frankly long before that, this year we all found ourselves, present company included, talking about how and where to "find qualified workers."

While this challenge by nature is always top of mind for HR and talent acquisition teams, the reality is that it has always been a struggle to find highly-skilled talent. If it was easy, and they just walked through the door every day, then you probably wouldn't be reading this blog. But skilled workers, who make an impact on your business, are always in demand, whether the economy is doing well or not so well.

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Workforce Trends of 2015

In 2015, however, we did hit a bit of a peak (we hope) when it comes to finding skilled, employable workers. What went right when it comes to the workforce?

 

A New Definition of Passive

We learned in 2015 that passive really meant "qualified," and as an industry, we need to expand our definition a bit further. When it comes to skilled, degreed or specialized positions, some workers are more qualified than others. And in 2015, we couldn't find enough of them because they were apparently all already working. As unemployment fell, it was harder to find qualified workers, and so all that hiring mangers wanted were "passive" candidates.

But really what they were looking for was anyone qualified or could be (by virtue of other skills and other qualities). With that, we learned to expand our definition of who is qualified and why.

This notion that recruiters must identify if what’s needed is a true passive candidates or someone, who with time, could fit the mold has led to positive discussions about applicable skills, cross-training and better employee engagement (even with non-employee populations). One that we hope will continue to catch fire in the following year.

 

Which Wage Did They Go?

As the year chugged along, we slowly began to realize that wages did not. Wages need to rise; it’s that simple. I know it's not a comfortable proposition for most companies, but we have reached a point where we will have to pay more for skilled professionals.

There is a great movement, to raise the minimum wage nationally; even a dedicated website. And, many cities have already taken this first step. What started to take hold in 2015 will hopefully continue into 2016, and should be viewed as good thing for our future workers and our economy.

 

The Keys to the Recruiting Kingdom

Creativity, flexibility and preparedness became the keys to recruiting. For many companies, 2015 got off to a slow start, and then quickly recruiting needs heated up. But, that didn't mean that leaders in talent acquisitions could hire recruiters or bolster their HR departments. They relied on temporary workers and other non-employee types to help keep things going and growing.

We found that the companies who did this well were able to do so because they had the right resources in place before they needed temporary or contract workers. And, they found creative ways to engage and manage their entire workforce population. In many people's eyes a mix of perm hires and temp labor has become the "new norm," and 2015 was a good example of how the future might look.

 

So our eternal optimists, those are the recruiting and workforce trends that worked really well this year. But, what about the shades of grey, and no we don’t mean the movie. Let’s dive into what didn't go so right in 2015


Lack of Agility 

Companies learned too late that their key employees were willing to leave them for a better job, company, boss, paycheck, a ______ (fill in the blank), etc. Everyone talks about engagement, but this year it was brought to the forefront as companies battled to keep good workers.

Undermanned and overworked HR departments were asked to respond. Unfortunately, the ship called employee engagement doesn't turn easily and most companies didn't pony up the resources to support it. So, in the end, a lot of good employees changed companies this year; which was good for some companies, and not so good for others.

 

Redefining HR

Companies were forced to stop and think about the role of HR and many still didn't get it right. After years of being understaffed, HR was again in the spotlight when it came to talent in 2015. Some companies got the message and looked to help HR with talent acquisition, engagement and retention. The question still is: What should HR focus on? I don't think many companies have this figured out yet, and 2016 will be another year of struggling for talent if they don't.

When it comes to the workforce, if you thought 2015 was an interesting year, I think 2016 will be even more interesting. The elections and the economy will both have an impact as well as the continuing talent gap. As they say, luck favors the prepared. So prepare for another bumpy year and good luck!

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This blog was written by Matt Rivera. Matt serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Yoh’s marketing and brand communications. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and has been working in the staffing industry for more than 25 years. Prior to this role, Matt held many different roles from branch recruiting and proposal writing to technology management and online marketing.

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