5 Employment Trends Every Firm Needs to Be Ready For

A hiring manager searches for job candidates.

In December 2015, 3.1 million workers left their jobs voluntarily. It’s what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls the “quits rate,” and it points to one of the biggest employment trends hiring managers need to pay attention to this year. The quits rate represents the number of workers who voluntarily left their jobs. It started rising dramatically in the last half of 2014 and in December 2015 reached the highest level since 2006. 

The simple truth is that more and more workers are feeling confident. They are, and will be, willing to leave their current positions if they can find more money, stronger opportunities for advancement or better perks elsewhere. 

That’s just one of the shifts that will affect the hiring environment this year. Here are five more employment trends managers need to be aware of …

1. Job candidates will remain in the driver’s seat 

Businesses are hiring. The BLS reported that there were 5.6 million job openings across the U.S. in the last month of 2015, the second-highest level ever reported. And companies expect more of the same this year. More than half (55 percent) of CEOs at small and midsize companies said they intend to increase staff levels in 2016, according to the Vistage CEO Confidence Survey Index.

Add to these stats the following: The unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in January 2016, the lowest in eight years.

In other words, job seekers will have more choices in 2016, giving them the advantage in the job market. And there are fewer candidates available for employers to choose from. The most promising applicants will get multiple employment offers, and sometimes even counteroffers from their current employers. Hiring managers will be looking for ways to attract the skilled professionals, which means that …

2. Starting salaries will rise

Of all the employment trends, this may be the least surprising. Even before the start of the year, many companies were indicating that they were willing to pay more to get the job candidates they want. More than half (54 percent) of CFOs in a Robert Half survey said they increased a new hire’s salary from what the person made in his or her previous job. The average raise was 10 percent. 

Overall, starting salaries are expected to rise 4.1 percent on average for professional positions this year, according to the most recent Robert Half Salary Guides. Technology jobs and positions in accounting and finance will see even greater increases — 5.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. 


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Although competitive salaries are important to job candidates, they’re not the only thing employees are looking for…

3. Perks and skills training will also grow in importance

Job candidates will continue to look for good benefits and retirement packages, along with a workplace that offers telecommuting and flexible scheduling options. This is one of the employment trends many firms are already acting on. Forty percent of CFOs are willing to negotiate perks, and 43 percent of workers believe that perks are up for discussion at their company, according to a separate Robert Half survey.

Businesses are also putting resources into subsidized training for their employees. Not only do these professional development opportunities allow staff to learn new skills they can bring back to the office, but they also attract top job candidates. In another survey by Robert Half, 64 percent of workers said the chance to learn new skills was critical in deciding whether to take a new job. Training will be particularly important because …

4. Employers will be expanding their candidate pool

Firms won’t limit their search to candidates with years of experience. They’ll be more willing to hire employees straight out of school and provide on-the-job training to get them up to speed. Eleven percent of employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said they plan to hire more new college grads from the class of 2016 than they did from the class of 2015. 

Other employers are considering promoting from within. It’s a great way to improve morale and employee retention, something 36 percent of HR professionals surveyed by LinkedIn called a priority. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the growing competition for the top job candidates. 

But firms aren’t just expanding their candidate pool …

5. The best companies are also revamping their hiring practices

Employers who take too long to hire or fail to make themselves stand out as a great place to work are at a disadvantage in today’s market, considering the latest employment trends. Companies that want to stay competitive when it comes to hiring are working to speed up their process, so as not to miss out on top candidates, and work hard to promote the reasons employees love working for them.

Together, these employment trends will shape the hiring environment in the coming year, making the search for skilled professionals challenging — and important. Firms that are flexible and fast-moving will be the most likely to land their candidates of choice.

Want to learn more about current employment trends? Download your free copy of The Demand for Skilled Talent for the latest research that can help you in your hiring and retention efforts.


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