As anyone in recruiting and HR can attest, the field is one of constant change. Fluctuations in the economy and labor market directly impact recruiters’ ability to bring in qualified candidates, while HR laws and best practices are always evolving to keep up with our fast-paced world. This transformation, on top of your day-to-day tasks, can make it difficult to keep up with what’s happening on a larger scale.
To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’ve created a quick digest of some of the most important news events and trends to keep an eye on this month and in the future — read on to learn more.
1. Unemployment Is Down to Historic Lows
If you had any doubt that we’re currently in a job seeker’s market, the April jobs report should remove it completely. The BLS announced this past Friday that the unemployment rate in the US fell to just 3.9 percent in April — ”the first time unemployment has ticked below 4 percent since December 2000, nearly 18 years ago,” writes Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.
“That’s good news for workers, as growing labor shortages in tech, skilled trades and health care are putting more workers in the driver’s seat,” Chamberlain says — but that boon for job seekers poses a challenge to employers. With more open jobs and fewer available workers, companies are going to have their work cut out for them when it comes to differentiating themselves from their competitors.
2. Wages Are On the Up-and-Up
One way companies might start to differentiate themselves? Offering higher salaries. Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports showed that April saw another slight uptick in wage growth, a sign that the as-of-late sluggish pay growth is about to turn a corner.
Out of the ten metros studied, this growth was most pronounced in San Francisco, Houston and Seattle. Employers located in those areas would do well to keep a close eye on market salaries to determine whether or not their offers are truly competitive. If not, it might be time to reevaluate your compensation packages.
3. Gen Z Is About to Enter the Workforce in Droves
Pew Research center recently defined post-millennials as those born in 1997 or later — meaning this year’s cohort of college graduates, predominantly born in 1996, is likely the last millennial-majority class. Many Gen Z students entering their senior year of college will soon — if not already — be looking for their first full-time job out of college, so if you haven’t already begun researching how your company can attract and retain this new generation, the time to start is now.
A few quick tips, according to Gen Z expert Steve Robertson:
- Provide structure, but don’t overdo it: Gen Zers have grown up in a world that places a strong emphasis on customization and individuality. While they will need guidance upon entering the workforce, they likely won’t respond well to authoritative, inflexible work environments.
- Mentor, don’t manage: Yes, you want to achieve business results for your company, but you should also keep your employees’ growth in mind if you want to retain them long term. Check in on career goals, growth opportunities and engagement early and often.
- Create an intentional workspace: Today’s young talent thrives in environments that foster collaboration without making them feel claustrophobic. Make sure you have spaces where employees can come together, but also do heads-down individual work.
4. Mental Health Is On Employees’ Minds
May doesn’t just signal the annual return of beautiful weather, summer vacations and cookouts — it’s also mental health awareness month. Given that we spend about a third of our lives at work, companies play an important role in promoting their employees’ mental hygiene. A few best practices to follow:
- Create a culture of trust: Nothing breeds stress like an environment where you feel you’re constantly being questioned. Make it clear that you trust and support your employees, and they’ll feel safer, happier and more productive.
- Lead by example: Show employees that your company values openness and honesty. Practice transparency through good times and in bad, and employees will feel that much more comfortable approaching you when they need to.
- Make resources available: It’s okay to not be a mental health expert — unless you’re a psychologist, employees probably don’t expect that of you anyway. But you should make it clear that your company is willing to connect employees with organizations and people who do have the expertise to help them through hard times.
5. #MeToo Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
With new #MeToo stories making headlines almost daily, the movement continues to prove that it’s not just a flash in the pan. And as these accounts of abuse and harassment — often in the workplace — increasingly surface, companies have taken to discussing what they can do to create a more inclusive environment where behavior like this is discouraged from happening.
Even if you think your company doesn’t have a problem, it’s still worth talking about how your company can create a safe and welcoming workplace. The #MeToo movement has proven that situations like these often arise as a result of people with the power to effect change being unable, or sometimes even unwilling, to recognize existing issues in the workplace.
A few steps you can take today to discourage misconduct include putting a strong sexual harassment policy in place, rolling out sensitivity/harassment prevention training, addressing any reports or rumblings promptly and cultivating a healthy company culture.
6. The Skills Shortage Threatens to Get Worse
If you’re already having a hard time finding technical talent, don’t expect it to get any easier in the immediate future. A new study found that the skills shortage could lead to 85.2 million unfilled jobs and close to $8.5 trillion in lost revenue by 2030. While more students are pursuing STEM majors and there are numerous organizations and programs encouraging an interest in the STEM field, this isn’t a problem that you can expect to go away on its own.
As companies struggle to find qualified candidates, many are choosing to uplevel the skills of their existing employees rather than relying solely on outside talent. Professional services firm PwC, for example, rolled out the Digital Fitness Assessment app to help their employees take stock of their current digital skills, identify which areas need improving and connect them to relevant learning assets.
While a training program requires time, resources and often budget, it’s important to not just think of it as an expense. In reality, it’s an investment that will likely see a handsome payoff — especially as the talent shortage worsens.