5 Emerging Trends in Employment

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a permanent mark on hiring and employment trends across the globe. Rapid technological growth has enabled real-time communication and coworking between employees on opposite sides of the planet. Tools like AI and automation are enabling them to get their tasks done faster and more efficiently than ever. And roles, too, are changing, as technology and culture redefine what skill- and knowledge sets are needed in the workplace.

At the same time, economic concerns like inflation and recession are stretching everyone’s pockets thin. Employers are struggling to find the budget to hire and pay the workers they need. And more workers are holding out for jobs that can actually pay their increasing costs of living. All and all, the workforce has changed dramatically in just the past 3-4 years. Here are some of the most important recent trends in employment and hiring.

1. Outsourcing Overseas

One growing trend over the past decade or two in the U.S. is a decline in the number of qualified workers. This is especially true in sectors like tech and healthcare, where not enough people are getting the necessary training and education. A company can’t always find qualified workers to hire in the local or national talent pool. Even if they exist, it’s incredibly challenging — and expensive — for employers to attract and retain these employees, in such a competitive market.

Many companies are solving this problem by hiring a portion of their staff from overseas. Skilled, competent, English-speaking workers in countries including Argentina, Poland, and Singapore are taking on roles like tech support, accounting, and software development. Hiring remote workers abroad has traditionally involved a lot of red tape, but that’s no longer always the case. It’s now possible to outsource your outsourcing itself, using a PEO or PEO alternative.

2. Remote and Hybrid Work Models

Even when your team members are based in your company’s city, don’t expect them to come into the office very often. Since the pandemic, many employers and employees have continued to embrace a hybrid or fully remote work model. Skilled workers on the hunt for a new role may even consider remote work just as important as their salary requirements. Your strongest candidates may completely write you off if you ask them to commute regularly — or at all.

Experts are divided on whether employees are more or less productive when they work from home. But research does suggest that working from home makes people happier and self-reported data seems to agree. Satisfied workers tend to stick around longer, feel more loyal to their companies, and be more invested in their roles. The upshot? This trend of letting employees work remotely and, ideally, set their own hours, is good for just about everyone.

3. Work-Life Balance

Along with wanting to spend less time in the physical office, millennial and Gen Z workers are also demanding more time to themselves. These generations place growing importance on mental health, personal goals, hobbies, and life outside their careers. As more millennials grow into senior roles, these priority shifts are beginning to redefine office culture. It’s more socially acceptable to log in at 9 and out at 5, instead of putting in tons of (usually unpaid) extra hours.

Employers who are able to offer more flexible working hours are likely to see the most employee satisfaction. But any company that prioritizes its employees’ overall well-being should do well in this changing cultural landscape. Employers looking to retain talent in this new climate should consider how they can best accommodate work-life balance. This could mean offering more sick, vacation, and mental health days, or simply not asking staff to work unpaid overtime.

4. The Gig Economy

More companies are moving to a gig-based model of employment, working with freelancers and contractors. This can be good for employers, especially in the U.S. since they avoid the headache of benefits and certain labor laws. For employees, the advantage to gig-work is the schedule flexibility previously mentioned, but gig-work still isn’t ideal. Gig-based employees often lack health coverage and paid sick time, and they may struggle to earn a consistent income.

Customers care about brands’ values, so it’s important they know you’re treating your gig workers well. To boost positive brand awareness, gig employers should strive to offer benefits and other perks, wherever possible. If full insurance coverage isn’t an option, consider a partially self-funded plan where employees can opt in and cover some of the costs. Paid sick leave and vacation days are ideal, but at the very least, don’t penalize workers for reducing hours.

5. AI and Related Concerns

Employees are worried about being replaced by AI, which is being trained to do many common tasks, like customer service. On the flip side, managers worry their employees will use AI to generate documents or other projects and pass them off as their own. For example, freelance writers are concerned that large language models like ChatGPT can be trained to write articles. However many companies have disciplinary policies that penalize workers who plagiarize from AI.

The key to jumping on the AI trend is to find the right balance of AI and human talent to boost your workplace efficiency. That means training employees to use it as a helpful assistant, not as a replacement for their roles. AI is great at helping with brainstorming and organization, but less so at creative tasks and specialized projects. Teach employees how to use it for outlines and research, but to make sure their expert knowledge still takes center stage.

Treating People Like People

The modern worker doesn’t expect to stay at a job for the entirety of their career, as their parents or grandparents did. Younger generations are more concerned about their health, happiness, and success than their loyalty to a company. If you want to attract and retain solid talent these days, it’s all about valuing your employees. Offer a wage they can live on and a lifestyle that supports their well-being, and they’ll be more likely to stick around.

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