Don't Stop Believin' - The Staffing Journey - Economic Metrics/Analysis

It was one of those weeks that describes, facilitates, and encompasses the staffing journey.  It never ceases to amaze me - the increasing importance of knowing, controlling, and bringing to pass great staffing outcomes.  In the short space of 1 week, I realized that in the past 3 months - 40 hires have been brought into my company or were impacted internally through a staffing advancement, or career progression option, and it really amazes me, to see how many lives are impacted. When we do what we do, we have to love it, appreciate it, let it drive our outcomes, and keep creating wizardry that enables our greatest performance.  You must source, screen, facilitate, drive, conquer, lay a groundwork for trust, pound the pavement, get out into the community, and really motivate others.

Here we are on the Staffing Journey - Journey a great 80's Rock band has a great song that reminds me of staffing sometimes.  I love the staffing journey, I love it's challenges and opportunities.  It was also one of those months I had to fill several jobs 2-3 x's to make the hire.  And good candidates having more offers in hand, and newer grads finding increasing competition from experienced workers, retirees, increases in part-time work, etc.  Staffing is all about how much we put in, and how much we work towards solid outcomes.  

This is the heart of what we do.  We need to continue to open doors, eek out 1 more hire, and close another offer.  It is entirely amazing, this one area of HR, staffing.  No one else can truly understand what it takes to facilitate staffing outcomes, or how to drive to the goal, unless you are doing it.  Our hiring managers have a guess, our candidates have their own perspective, our internal leaders in our companies may be drilling down with data, but the real world daily outcomes are best serviced by our own delivery effort.

There are many moments on your staffing desk where you are making that offer, and the candidate has the questions, it is then your passion that closes them, that facilitates the match, and provides the talent cycle more readily than anything.  How many times have you stood in a place where the phone is ringing, IM is going off, the internal candidate wants the feedback, the hiring manager is pleading for resumes, and there is that one circumstance or situation that made you feel like a "fire fighter", "career counselor", or "Company Ambassador".

A new day is dawning in our staffing universe so much affected by the world around us, the government shutdown, the changes in organization within your company, the candidate perception of their career, and so much more.

Here are some interesting statistics that can serve to put our staffing day in perspective, or the tendencies of industry driving the "staffing journey" or metrics that seem to indicate what we may be feeling:

According to Steven Miller - in an article found on SHRM's website (Society for Human Resource Management):

"The cost of providing employee health care benefits at the largest U.S. employers is projected to increase 7 percent in 2014, according to survey results released Aug. 28, 2013, by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), a nonprofit association of more than 265 large U.S. companies."


Add to this the burgeoning National Debt: - here one can see how the debt is rising at almost 17 Trillion.  Per this website these other numbers are interesting to note:

  • 48 Million Food Stamp Recipients
  • State Local & Federal Government Employees: 23.7 Million
  • 46 Million living in poverty
  • US Population - 317 Million
  • Actual Unemployed 21 Million
  • Not in Labor Force - 90 Million
  • US Workforce 144 Million
  • 46.7 Million US Retirees
  • US Tax Payers 114.4 Million
  • US Unfunded Liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, Prescription Drugs) - 126 Trillion
  • Small Business Assets - 8.5 Trillion
  • Corporate Assets - 20 Trillion+
  • Household Assets - 76 Trillion
  • US Govt Interest on Debt - 2.8 Trillion
  • US Individual Personal Debt - 15.8 Trillion

The website lists other interesting data points and is pulling numbers real time from various sources that provide a very accurate picture.  It is mind boggling to think how these numbers affect our staffing journey.  Think on just US staffing alone, what does it mean for business as a whole and what do these numbers tell us?

  • Economic Stability is a concern, especially when the government cannot pay it's own bills, and is in debt, and considers that it can spend with no consequences.
  • Individuals & Families need to work to survive, about 50% of the population works - but may be in part-time or other jobs that don't provide stability.
  • The crushing debt, and other spending and overall consumer problems could lead to issues in the economy.
  • Savings have been decimated by economic circumstances of the last few years.
  • Challenges exist but it is vital for small businesses, inventors, start-ups and economic ideas to further revitalize the economy.

Consider other emerging trends such as these:

This document shows very interesting trends in manufacturing and service.




In October, the hiring rate will rise in manufacturing and services compared with a year ago.






In September, recruiting difficulty was nearly unchanged in manufacturing and up in services compared with a year ago.






In September, the rate of increase for new-hire compensation dropped in manufacturing and rose in services compared with a year ago.





Source: October 2013 SHRM LINE Report 

SHRM's (Society For Human Resource Management) Leading Indicator's Report is published monthly and shows that recruiters have a wide variety of openings, still hard to find candidates, and other factors that affect hiring.  Net result is need for specialized recruitment, and continued shortage of qualified talent.  Add to this the burgeoning economic belt tightening and candidates weighing their offer choices carefully, companies being more selective, and a steady flow of new applicants - new college grads, retirees wanting to come back to the workforce, and new recent improvements in the some sectors of the economy and struggles in others in spite of the recent challenges of the last few years add a growing dynamic not encountered before. We are indeed in a unique point of history.

Some more SHRM Statistics report:

"While planned layoffs fell to their lowest level in three months in September, U.S.-based employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 40,289, according to the latest report on monthly job cuts, released Oct. 3, 2013, by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. That figure represents a 20 percent drop from August but is 19 percent higher than the job cuts announced in September 2012. This is the fourth consecutive month in which job cutting was heavier than a year ago. As a result, job losses in the third quarter of 2013 were up 25 percent from a year ago. Overall, 128,452 planned cuts were announced during the three-month period ending Sept. 30, compared with 102,910 over the same stretch last year. The third-quarter total was 13 percent higher than the second quarter, when 113,891 jobs were eliminated."

Source - Author – Theresa Menton Eversole

There are also emerging challenges with millenials, and Generation Y and Z employees.

"Generation Y came of age in the '90s, and it was a time of peace and prosperity," Tulgan said in a phone interview with SHRM online.  "It was a new era of American global hegemony and the dawn of the Internet. [Many members of] Generation Z grew up post-9/11 and came of age in a time of fear and awareness of vulnerability. There was terrorism, war and economic uncertainty from the early-2000s recession and the Great Recession.” In a white paper titled Meet Generation Z: The Second Generation Within the Giant Millennial Cohort, which his firm will publish Oct. 7, 2013, Tulgan writes that the children of the 2000s “simultaneously grew up way too fast and never grew up at all. Their access to information, ideas, images and sounds is completely without precedent. At the same time, they are isolated and scheduled to a degree that children have never been.” Those born since 1990 already represent nearly 7 percent of the workforce, or more than 11 million people. That segment will grow to 20 million by 2015, to 25 million by 2017 and to 30 million by 2019, according to Tulgan’s research."

Article by: Joseph Coombs "Generation Z: Why HR Must Be Prepared for Its Arrival"

Then look at what employers are feeling based on a recent survey by SHRM:

Key findings from Q4 2013 (October – December)

Organizations' plans to change staff
levels in Q4 2013 (October - December)


Increase total staff


Maintain total staff


Decrease total staff


Source:  SHRM Jobs Outlook Survey Q4 2013

HR professionals’ optimism on
overall job growth in the United
States in Q4 2013 (October – December)


Very optimistic about job growth


Somewhat optimistic about job growth


Neither optimistic nor pessimistic about job growth


Somewhat pessimistic about job growth, anticipating job losses


Very pessimistic about job growth, anticipating job losses


Source:  SHRM Jobs Outlook Survey Q4 2013

Now consider the above.  55% are optimistic, and 45% are pessimistic about Job Growth. As one analyzes the challenges before us, more and more one realizes that we are not "out of the woods" so to speak due to our government's bad decisions, tepid and concerned hiring trends, cautious approaches by businesses anticipating higher benefits costs, and greater administrative burdens from the government.

See the Bureau of Labor Statistics recent report before it shut down:

"Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in August. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate increases, 17 states had decreases, and 15 states had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, 12 states had increases, and 2 states had no change. The national jobless rate was little changed from July at 7.3 percent and was 0.8 percentage point lower than in August 2012."

My company ADP - which did northwards of almost 50 Million W2s in 2012 and the largest payroll provider in the US also has some good insights on the marketplace as well:

And now consider temporary staffing - the American Staffing Association reports:

ASA Staffing Index Monthly Report:
September 2013

Staffing employment is up 5.1% compared to the same month last year, according to the ASA Staffing Index. The index value for the month of September is 100, indicating that staffing employment has experienced a 3.1% increase over the last 30 days. Typically, staffing employment peaks between mid-November and mid-December each year, after which it dramatically declines for several weeks before turning upward in mid-January. According to the index, since the beginning of 2013, temporary and contract employment has grown 14.8%.

In general the increase in temp and contract staffing can reflect company realization of real time work needs, and a need to balance the economic needs of temp workers to supplement current staff operations, and could also indicate a very careful, and conservative strategy approach from businesses due to uncertainty.  Again direct result of large factors relating to economic health.

The great recession put companies in a spot where they had to review operations, make sure revenues could continue and grow, and that key indicators would help facilitate.

Finally - some trends that are interesting to note from venture capital based funding of new ventures in recent months indicates overall economic health:

The National Venture Capital Association reported that overall - 4 Billion in US Dollars was poured into new start-ups and other new companies. In addition Venture Capital Funding was at it's highest since 2008 and significantly up in the 3rd quarter of 2013.

As I analyze what all these trends mean for the economy and the overall stability of our marketplace, one must ponder how it is that the staffing journey can create great outcomes. Our opportunity as recruiting/staffing professionals truly is dynamic. The marketplace truly still has challenges, good candidates with key skill sets will continue to be in demand. Younger workers will continue to fill the void as baby boomers continue to retire, but will compete with these baby boomers when companies lure them out of retirement or supplement their staff with contract workers. In the past 5 years companies have turned to temporary staff only at seasonal, or shifting staff seasons, when companies realize their cost cutting measures hurt more than helped them.

It is also increasingly vital to create the utmost candidate experience, a good employer will walk the talk and role out the red carpet. Would an employee in our modern age want to work for a company that only employed cost cutting measures, viewed their people as a widget or resource, or really made a candidate feel unappreciated. It is here we must have "Staffing Karma" come into play as to how we deal with candidates providing real time feedback, efforts at quality and a continuous pipeline and sourcing effort. Technology will continue to be a factor, rising health care costs, or opportunities to deliver quality outcomes.

Staffing is a total commitment in today's economy, and one that requires sourcing, computer, technical knowledge, and a firm familiarity with needs of the business or emerging trends. Now more than ever with competing companies fighting and clawing to get talent in the doors in a quicker turn-around, and Kaizen process improvement policy, it is vital for staffing to serve the business with the utmost ethical commitment. This staffing journey, with internal candidate promotion scenarios, real time client and candidate concern management, rolling out the red carpet for every staffing outcome.

 It is here that a staffing professional can look back on the past 125 in sum placements at my current company OR past 40 in this quarter that graced my desk with their talented approach. I personally love watching someone's life change, the awe of the candidate when accepting their offer, and when one finds the success they want or the client needs. It is there with all the macro, and micro staff desk matters, that these statistics and issues that accompany them can be important tools for the sourcing real time effort. It's just one profession with a solid future ahead of it if one can take control, and develop their project management, and tech skills. And work hard at the utmost partnerships.

Really these trends indicate a very dynamic and changing people movement pattern.  Folks are stretched to the hilt, but not saving enough for retirement, and other factors.  Throw in the Affordable Care Act, and one has a perfect storm, employers need knowledge workers, but are about to experience an influx of new talent with new key personality, cultural, and demographic understandings.  It will be critical to engage, and court these rising generations, while supplementing talent pools with dynamic seniors, baby boomers, and move Gen X and Y to management as they move up in their careers.

This will affect everything from how we interview, screen, prioritize, and our strategic staffing thought process.  While metrics tell the story, the micro environment at the personal level will have a definite impact.  These trends will shape our new world, in coming decades, and HR will have to really analyze things.  Case in point folks whom could be considered "job hoppers" may have had those circumstances due to employers shifting and outsourcing roles, planning workforces around shifting dynamics with the larger costs and employer burdens.  Likewise, key leadership talent from the rising generation will be needed, and trained.  Leaders will have to create their succession plans, and realize that the average tenure for employees in the market of "free agents" will need to be shifted to a new retention strategy of engaging workers to let them know how they can advance and perform.  

I'm so glad to be here with the opportunities I have, it will be sheer commitment to ensure success is realized. What I would do without staffing's power of good outcomes I would never know. But I find myself lucky to be with the job I have and the company with a solid reputation. Staffing journey matters are all a matter of how we treat candidates, managers, clients, et al in the process. Staffing is a partnership, but with it the opportunity to change lives. It is humility, commitment, tact, and faith that lead to fills. If you remain true to yourself in the staffing process and if one comes to the the point of stress where you know you have what it takes but still must push ahead to make good outcomes. It is here where staffing has literally changed our lives, the lives of our managers, and the engagement of new hires that is really the key to success.

I’m so confident in the true character of our candidates, managers, and staffing partners, maintaining a positive approach in these macro and micro world circumstances will open the doors we seek.  We face a challenging time like any other in staffing which will require our utmost and focused approaches, thank goodness we have a job and role on our staffing desks, that allow us to make an impact perhaps in our own small way on the economy, and I would never change that for the world.  Staffing in 2013 is the best profession in the world.

With the circumstances herein outlined and the reality of our current state of affairs - real time sourcing, recruiting, hiring, and other areas of staffing management are and will be continued to vitally influence the staffing scenarios of our future.  Likewise, the importance of analyzing our staffing carrots, pay and compensation/benefits, work environment etc.  With these differing cultural and eco-centric factors driving our staffing momentum, we will need to stay that much more aware, or connected to the larger and big picture realities, adventures, opportunities, and strenghts of our staffing desks.

This post is of my creation and in no way reflects the views, opinions, OR intent of ADP in anyway. I am solely responsible for it’s content.

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