What the August Jobs Report Does Not Mean for Your Business

What the August 2014 Jobs Report Does Not Mean for Your Business

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) August jobs report shows that businesses added fewer jobs than analysts had predicted and fewer jobs than the economy had added over the past several months. Does this apparent slowdown mean that top talent is more readily available — and that your organization can finally relax efforts to attract and retain skilled people?

Actually, no. In fact, relaxing your recruitment efforts is what the August jobs report does not mean for your business because skilled professionals are in very high demand now. One month does not make a trend. “Several economists shrugged off last month’s slowdown as a blip,” wrote USA Today, which points out that the BLS could revise its August numbers upward, as it has in years past.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department just released its July Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which shows that job openings are at a 13-year high, up 22.5 percent from a year ago. In other words, there are many job opportunities in today’s market, and the best employees may be looking for greener pastures. Even if they’re not, recruiters are calling from the other side of the fence.

Finally, during August, kids are out of school and people are vacationing on sandy beaches. Now that September is in full swing, managers have replaced swimsuits with business suits and are shaking the sand out of their ears. As summer cools off, people are shifting their focus back to work.

So, here are three things the August jobs report does mean for your firm:

1. The war for talent rages

A national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent may grab headlines, but it doesnt tell the full story. Unemployment rates for highly skilled workers are often less than half the overall rate. For example, the most recent unemployment rate is 2.8 percent for accountants and auditors, 1.8 percent for financial managers and an extremely low 0.5 percent for compliance officers, according to the BLS.

That helps explain why a Robert Half survey earlier this year revealed that nearly 63 percent of chief financial officers said they were facing recruitment challenges. Such strains are likely to persist given the continual competition for candidates in today’s specialist economy. A new Conference Board report further highlights difficulties finding the right people, forecasting talent shortages for numerous specialties over the next 15 years.

Its clear: To attract the best talent, you cannot afford to relax your recruitment efforts. You must still compete for these employees. 

2. The battle within your company

Of course, once an employee comes on board, your company can finally take a deep breath, right? Again, not really. When many people speak about the war for talent, they usually mean finding terrific candidates, but there’s another front to war, and it’s inside your company. It’s not enough to find talent; you’ve got to work hard to keep it. 

These days, candidates are increasingly receiving multiple offers and counteroffers. Indeed, the BLS reports that voluntary turnover has steadily risen since the recession five years ago. That’s why from onboarding to training and development to compensation, your organization must ramp up retention initiatives. After all, keeping great people is your best retention and recruitment tool because great people attract other great people.

3. Flexible arrangements are the new norm

A year ago, if someone resigned, a company might have been able to make do without that person. Today, that’s not the case. Companies need to hire replacements quickly. Especially if staff members have already been stretched thin, having just one vacancy in your org chart can cause lots of problems. Companies must strike a balance, however, not to move too quickly, which can cause them to make a bad hire. As a result, more and more firms are turning to flexible staffing.

In fact, flexible staffing has become the new normal — a permanent part of many firms’ human resources plans as organizations increasingly take on temporary staff when they can’t find full-time talent or when workloads spike, or both. They can access a deep talent pool of professionals who possess specialized skills that aren’t available in-house — when and for as long as they need them. And it’s also a way for employers to audition workers for full-time roles. 

Ultimately, your company should always be striving to take positive steps toward finding and keeping talent — regardless of what any given month’s jobs report says.

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