CDI Corporation

Workforce Trends to Anticipate in 2017

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Successful businesses adapt to new market demands, the changing workforce and ever-evolving technology. They have to – companies that don’t adapt fail. Understanding the trends that are driving change, creating talent challenges, and offering potential solutions can help pave the way to adaptability and success.

Many of the workplace trends prevalent in 2016, such as maximizing talent analytics and improving the candidate experience will continue to resonate in 2017, coupled with other emerging trends that demand new ways of managing and planning for the future. The following are six workforce trends expected throughout the new year:

The blended workforce will continue to grow.

The gig economy, an environment in which organizations contract with workers for short-term engagements, has created a new kind of diversity with full-time permanent employees working side-by-side with freelancers and contractors. “We’re seeing clients who want staffing programs that are flexible enough to include W-2, SOW and 1099 freelance workers, said John Lewis, director of sales operations for CDI. From the employer’s perspective, the type of worker they bring onboard is really about how much direct control the client wants to have of a project, and how much risk they want to take on themselves. There are some skills, like highly creative and trade skills, where the majority of the best talent will only engage as a 1099 freelancer. In that case, we have to be flexible enough to be able to assess these workers quickly to ensure they meet Federal guidelines.”

Companies will work to improve both candidate and employee experiences.

Companies create marketing experiences for customers and prospects in order to drive positive engagement, increase loyalty and grow their revenues. Now employers are recognizing they need to do the same thing for both their candidates and their employees, both permanent and short-term. A recent study by Workplace Trends found that nearly 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor experience as a job applicant, and 72 percent of them have shared that experience on an online employer review site. “Candidates are evaluating potential employers at every step of the interview process, observing not only what is being said, but also what the organization reveals about the company culture,” says Bill Hyman, chief human resources officer for CDI. “Companies can increase their ability to attract top talent by delivering an engaging yet streamlined recruitment experience, which candidates will then share on sites like Glassdoor.”

Aside from candidates, employee retention and engagement are also a major concern as companies recognize that top talent have numerous employment options and losing even a few of them drastically affects productivity. More organizations, for example, will focus on identifying and eliminating unnecessary workplace complexity. By putting the employee experience first, employers will be helping to improve productivity by designing simplified work processes, and creating a culture that is more cohesive, provides more opportunities for idea sharing across the company, and ultimately is more enjoyable for their blended workforce.

Use of talent analytics will increase.

Analyzing and curating data to measure and improve hiring will become more prevalent as talent acquisition professionals feel the pressure to combine traditional recruitment methods that leverage instinct or gut feelings, with the ability to turn everyday data into recruiting intelligence. In fact, many companies are already using data to analyze competitor talent pools to find candidates with the right skills and potential to join the organization, and are examining data on whether full-time or contingent employees bring the highest return on investment. Employers will continue to seek better ways to interpret data and develop true insights about future and current employees, regarding whether they have the competencies, experiences, traits and drivers to succeed. “Companies need to be able to clearly articulate how they would like talent analytics to augment traditional recruitment methods, in order to source the best technology solutions for their organization,” advises Peter Begley, president of staffing operations for CDI’s EdgeRock Technology Partners’ business. "Properly applied, organizations can use people analytics to get a robust picture of what’s working and what isn’t, to take the guesswork out of the most important workforce decisions."

National average starting salaries are up.

For every job opening in 2008, there were 40 applicants. By 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Survey, the number of applicants for every open position had shriveled to 1.4. Two factors – increased demand for skilled workers and historically low inflation – are driving wage growth and, as a result, average starting salaries will continue to rise in 2017.

When skilled professionals are both in high demand and in short supply, employers have to remain open about compensation for new hires, whether they are permanent staff or contractors, and be informed about salary trends in their industry and in their geographic location. Failure to do so will mean losing top candidates to competitors.

More millennials will move into management roles.

This year, more than 3.6 million executive leaders are set to retire as younger professionals ascend to managerial slots. As millennials move into leadership roles, their management style is expected to bring a striking change in corporate America, with a focus on collaboration and transparency. Where previous generations adopted the traditional top-down corporate structure, millennials tend toward a flatter structure with fewer titled roles, a more democratic approach, and less concern about whether employees are full-time, part-time, onsite or remote workers. Leadership will emerge in other forms because Millennials often believe you don’t need a title to be a leader. It can come from heading a project or campaign, or even taking an active role on your team. Under these new rules, a contract employee can emerge as a leader just as readily as a permanent employee.

The uptick in boomerang workers will continue.

The boomerang employee, one who leaves a company on good terms but then returns later, is on the upswing. According to a study conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos: The Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study, 85 percent of HR professionals say they have received job applications from former employees, and 40 percent say their organization hired about half of those former employees for both permanent and contract positions.

One of the reasons for this trend is the fact that top professionals know how to effectively switch jobs within a short time. It’s also easy for companies to keep in touch with former employees through social media and to track and re-employ them. As the employment market continues to tighten, it will become increasingly difficult for employers to find the quality, skilled candidates to meet their needs. One of the advantages of hiring boomerang workers is that they are already familiar with the company’s culture and do not require a comprehensive orientation.

The above six trends already exist today, but their impact will increase as 2017 unfolds. Many companies are already under unprecedented threat of disruption, due to shrinking talent pools in many sectors, and employee expectations that are changing. This means employers have to be extremely sensitive to these changes and react more quickly than they have in the past. Understanding the trends that will profoundly affect the workplace next year and in the years ahead is crucial not only to their success but to their survival.

Recent CDI Analysis

“Candidates are evaluating potential employers at every step of the interview process, observing not only what is being said, but also what the organization reveals about the company culture.”

Bill Hyman
Chief Human Resources Officer
CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

The U.S. closed out 2016 with a solid jobs report that included record-high wage growth. The country added 156,000 jobs in December, down from 204,000 in November, according to data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bloomberg economists had estimated job gains of 175,000 for December.

Total employment in December was 7.5 million, bringing the unemployment rate up 0.1 point to 4.7 percent.

In 2016, 2.2 million jobs were added, marking the sixth consecutive year that gains were above 2 million. Some 2.7 million positions were gained in 2015. This is the longest period of consecutive gains exceeding 2 million since 1999, according to Bloomberg.

While the number of long-term unemployed and the labor force participation rate were relatively unchanged, the number of discouraged workers, or those not searching for work because they believe no jobs are available to them, decreased by 237,000 in December compared to the prior year.

The Federal Reserve stated that the December jobs figures brought the U.S. near maximum employment, Bloomberg reported.

Financial activities added 13,000 workers and manufacturing added 17,000 positions. Employment in other industries such as professional and business services, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, was little changed.

Wages grew in December at the fastest rate since 2009, Bloomberg reported. Average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payroll employees rose by 10 cents to reach $26.00 after decreasing by 2 cents in the month prior. Average hourly earnings have increased by 2.9 percent over the year.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

Marking the largest employment gain since the second quarter of 2010, the Canadian economy added 108,000 jobs in the final three months of 2016. Following several months of losses in full-time employment, there were 81,000 full-time positions added in December, according to the Labour Force Survey of Statistics Canada. Offset by a decline in part-time work, the total number of jobs added last month was 54,000.

According to the Financial Post, Canadian job growth in December far surpassed expectations. Some analysts had forecasted a loss of 2,500 jobs with no gains at all, while those polled by Reuters anticipated an unchanged economy for the month. Full-time employment had the largest monthly gain since March 2012. In fact, had it not been for the unexpected yet significant increase in full-time employment in December, the sector would have ended the year in a loss, reported The Toronto Star. Instead, the yearly employment view for full-time work remained relatively unchanged from the year previous. Overall in 2016 there were 153,700 part-time positions and 60,400 full-time jobs added.

The unemployment rate, however, increased 0.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent in December.

Statistics Canada reported that the professional, scientific and technical services industry created 28,000 jobs last month while the healthcare and social assistance sector added 14,000.

Agriculture lost 7,000 positions in December. Last month 44,000 private-sector employees joined the workforce while 29,000 employees joined the public sector.

Leading employment growth in the country for the year was the services sector, which posted a gain of 2 per cent between December 2015 and December 2016.

After a bumpy economic year, many analysts see the labour market looking up in 2017. As CBC News reported, there are a number of indicators pointing to a strong year ahead including the 200,000 positions added between August and December of 2016. A strong finish to the year indicates that the job market is on its way to recovery.

Moreover, the Canadian trade balance hit its first monthly surplus last month since 2014, reaching $526 million, reported The Toronto Star. There was a 4.3 per cent increase in exports.

"Canada experienced an unexpected hiring spree of full-time jobs in December and delivered strong export growth in November," said Craig Alexander, senior vice president and chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada. "These strong reports in late 2016 set the stage for the Canadian economy to deliver a better performance in 2017."

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, December 2016

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