Speaking in late September to business economists in Boston, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy was going through “extraordinary times with low inflation, incredibly low unemployment and continued expansion,” which is now the second longest in U.S. history. Powell’s rosy economic outlook also extended to the white-hot labor market, which he says isn’t at risk of cooling off anytime soon.
While it may be the best of times for job seekers, it makes for difficult and challenging times for hiring managers.
The state, regional and national economies are all growing at a sustained pace not seen since the post-war boom of the 1950s, and unemployment continues to fall. The good times lately have never been so good. September’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate was a 49-year low last seen in 1969 when Neil Armstrong was taking his first steps on the moon and Neil Diamond’s beloved Fenway Park eighth inning ballad “Sweet Caroline” was rocketing up the billboard charts for the first time.
In order to sustain and grow NH’s economic boom, businesses need to manage their workforce more strategically and proactively than ever before in order to find and keep the right people.
While this seems straightforward, it’s critical for employers to understand that in this age of instant gratification and Tinder, where personal and professional relationships can be turned on or off with the swipe of a finger, better employee management is mandatory. Traditional recruiting, hiring and training practices used to establish effective and mutually beneficial long-term employer-employee relationships, but those are no longer enough to keep and grow a stable workforce.
Based on a recent BANKW Staffing survey of 342 potential and active job seekers in NH and Massachusetts, businesses must follow the creed from REO Speedwagon and “roll with the changes” in their workforce. This starts with being creative, fast and agile in recruiting practices. Expect employees to work hard, but understand that they may demand more training and professional development opportunities, as well as more flexible schedules to balance their home life with their job. In addition, they may start looking for a new opportunity sooner than you think.
Roll with the Changes
According to the BANKW Staffing survey, there is clear confidence among job seekers that they will be looking for new opportunities in the job market, with 182 respondents indicating that they were either “extremely likely” or “very likely” to pursue a new job in the next 12 months. The transient nature of today’s job marketplace is nothing new, as 121 of 342 survey respondents indicated that they change jobs every two years or less, with another 76 saying they change jobs every three to four years.
The survey also indicated a strong degree of confidence from job seekers that the current market will quickly provide a new and better job. Of those responding, 38 percent (130) indicated that they are “extremely likely” to look for a new employment opportunity within the next 12 months. Another 15 percent replied that they were “very likely” to look for a new job in the next 12 months.
With the national unemployment rate expected to remain under 4 percent for the next three years, it is a job seekers market for those candidates with the right skills. The BANKW Staffing survey data showed that job seekers indicated confidence in finding increased pay and benefits at a new career opportunity.
After compensation, the desire for more career growth was the most common driving factor of respondents looking for new jobs, signaling to employers that the total package is important when presenting offers to candidates.
Additional findings include respondents’ predictions for the upcoming six months:
• More than half of the respondents are either “very confident” or “extremely confident” in their employment prospects in the next six months.
• Forty percent indicated that they were either “very confident” or “extremely confident” of finding a job that fits their job experience and/or pays well.
As for benefits, health care ranked as one of the top priorities when looking for perks and benefits at a new job. Good compensation and the need for more professional growth were the top two reasons offered by respondents for wanting to move on from their current jobs.
With the right approach and strategy, employers need not be worried about matching this competitive workplace market. Just the opposite: There are more people out there searching for the right match. It’s up to employers to step up and prove that they can offer what today’s job seeker is looking for in the workplace.
Matt Nagler, an employment and job staffing expert, is a founder and partner of BANKW Staffing based in Bedford. Visit bankwstaffing.com for more information.