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Companies step up workforce strategies as hiring surges

 |  By: Sherrie Whatton, President/CEO, Staffing Solutions

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A slowdown in hiring for full-time permanent professional or skilled positions typically hits after Thanksgiving, creating a lull between then and the new year.

But not this year, and not in the Nashville market.

If there was pause during the presidential election, the now-certainty that Donald Trump will take office seems to have spurred many businesses to move forward with growth and strategic plans. Whether it is an expectation of a pro-business political agenda or simply the end of a contentious campaign, optimism is high.

The result has meant increased competition for experienced candidates with sought-after skill sets. Most marketable individuals who are in the job market don’t stay there for long. Demand for accounting, human resources, administration and cybersecurity professionals is especially strong.

What does this unusual year-end surge in hiring activity mean for workforce trends in 2017?

We think retention will be a primary focus. How to keep star employees who may have other options or who may be recruitment targets for other growing companies will become increasingly important.

Here are seven trends we’ve observed that will continue well into 2017:

Flexible work environments

Many employees see this as a valuable benefit. Being able to telecommute and avoid traffic jams saves time and headache for employees, especially in Middle Tennessee where cars on the road have multiplied. If companies have non-customer-facing employees and technological capacity, they have become much more willing to let their proven players work from home a few days a week.

The younger workforce particularly sees this as an important benefit. It adds flexibility that improves their lives.

Health care costs

No question that the cost of health insurance has shot up. And while many companies have continually passed costs onto the employee through higher-deductible plans and other methods, some are now starting to pay careful attention to the value of the benefit as part of a competitive offer. It can make a difference of several thousand dollars to the recruit who is comparing.

Quicker hiring processes

Because of job demand, most companies are recognizing they must have an efficient, quick hiring process. If you interviewed Sarah and liked her, and she has the skill set you need, you can’t drag your feet because she’ll be off the market soon.

Softer human resources strategies

In addition to ensuring that salaries and health insurance benefits are competitive, some companies are focusing on the softer side of managing human resources — cultivating work environments where employees feel they can make a difference and where communication is strong. This is especially important to younger workers but applies across the age range.

Special perks

Discounts on gym memberships, laundry services, the ability for employees to purchase extra “paid time off” and opportunities to participate in organized community service may all seem like small perks, but they are making a difference in both recruiting and keeping employees.

Feedback

Annual performance reviews are being replaced with more frequent feedback.

Reasonable hours and rewards for long work

While many companies are running leaner, the ones who are more efficient in their processes (instead of just piling on overtime because of lack of resources) are the ones faring best with strong candidates. Companies are paying attention to work-life balance. If employees have to work long hours to hit deadlines, they are being rewarded with extra time off to acknowledge the extra mile.

Originally printed in The Tennessean.

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Posted in: For Employers
Companies step up workforce strategies as hiring surges