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Twenty-five Years in the Making: Observations of the Staffing Industry

As the world changes through time, it seems you don’t realize the full extent until you actually take time to look back. Such is the case for the evolution of the staffing industry since FlexiCorps incorporated in 1992.

After hitting the 25-year-in-business milestone, we looked back at what has changed in the staffing and human relations industry. In today’s post, we’ll touch on some of these changes. In future posts, we’ll explore changes in technology, immigration, and workplace practices.

Where the jobs are…job seeker expectations

Staffing for manufacturing was our focus in 1992. In those days, the unemployment rate was 7.5%, and manufacturing was performing well overall. Job seekers were looking at manufacturing opportunities as a career move, not simply a job. They snapped up lower-level jobs in manufacturing that were available; expecting to learn on the job and work their way up the ladder. During the remainder of the 1990s, unemployment rates steadily declined to a low of 4% in 2000. During the same period, jobs in manufacturing were climbing each year.

After the recession in the early 2000s, unemployment popped up to 6% in 2003 and slowly worked lower until the financial crisis hit in 2008. By 2009, the unemployment rate hit 9.3%, peaking in 2010 at 9.6%. This coincided with the continued exodus of manufacturing jobs offshore when manufacturers in the United States either closed down completely or opened plants out of the U.S.

In the last five or six years, as manufacturing jobs slowly increase again, we are witnessing voids in what is available and what the workforce is seeking. Skilled and technical jobs in manufacturing are difficult to fill. Even general labor positions with no skills required are plentiful. We see many opportunities for job seekers willing to start at a lower level and learn on the job. The backlog we once had of available and eager workers has dried up.

For today’s job seekers, we highly recommend enrollment in technical training programs or perhaps obtain an associate’s degree. This is one reason why we are offering two scholarships for technical training. We encourage you to share this scholarship information as applications are due Friday, July 18.

Hiring process changes

As we hinted, the process of sourcing and hiring has changed along with the makeup of the workforce itself. In the past, job fairs, flyers, telephoning and other hands-on activities kept our pipeline of potential employees full. Although we may see a few people at a job fair, today’s worker wants to be recruited online. When we opened our doors in 1992, the World Wide Web (WWW) was a fledgling information-sharing tool. What a difference today!

Three to four weeks to payday?

Adding to the process of moving a candidate to a paycheck are a litany of screening requirements. Depending on employer requests, a candidate may need to wait for E-Verify, drug screenings and background screenings.

Not only do these screens cost money, the longer wait alone is often enough to send candidates down the street to employers who don’t require as extensive of checks. For lower paying positions, a candidate isn’t willing – or can’t afford – to wait several weeks for their first paycheck.

Surprises we’ve witnessed over 25 years

Difficulties surrounding today’s workforce are likely the biggest change that has occurred in quite some time. Many younger workers aren’t willing to stay at a job for the long haul. Millennials often look at job flexibility and freedom as an important consideration for employment, something that not all employers can offer. Many college graduates expect management positions and high pay directly after graduation.

Another trend we’ve seen is that many staffing agencies have finally stepped up their game in terms of employment and payroll practices, as well as improving employee benefits. This is something we’ve done all along for our flexible labor force. It is refreshing to see others doing a better job with this, too. We’ve offered a 401k plan for the past nine or ten years. We also offer medical and dental plans if the worker chooses to take them.

Gazing into a crystal ball…

Manufacturing employers are likely to see continued challenges when searching for and hiring employees. Not only is it difficult to find a suitable hire, but also keeping abreast of rapidly changing legislative requirements adds an extra layer of difficulty. It justifies staffing agencies as critical partners of employers; we ensure compliance in the workplace.

Because of these difficulties, our success in recruiting and placing direct hire candidates is escalating. We have the tools in place to vet candidates and quite simply, we find a better candidate pool to offer a client company. In the past, potential workers shied away from applying at a staffing agency because they were concerned about employment security. With our direct hire recruiting practice, we are attracting a different, well-qualified candidate. We are successfully placing direct hires at all job levels and look to grow this practice in the future.

Watch for our next blog post where we explore how this direct hire process works – for both the employer and the potential employee. Do you want answers now? Call us at 630-485-4401.