October 21, 2021

Third Thursday Thoughts, 7th Edition

From President and Chief Operating Officer, Brian Lucas

Third Thursday Thoughts

Back to the Grind
Fall may be back to school season, but it’s also turning into “back to work” or “back to the office” as people return for at least a few days a week. At the same time, some personnel are opting to remain remote. Vaccine and mask mandates, health concerns, and the comfort of sweats and a t-shirt are complicating any return to a normal. As a recruiting firm, we are seeing what’s happening across many industries, not just at individual companies. We see how companies and employees handle this back to the grind and how this is impacting recruiting. Many forces are at work here, making this back to the grind very different than it has ever been. The economy has reopened with some workers returning and some not, creating a huge mismatch and an even larger demand for talent.

Vaccination effect
Vaccinations are what has made it possible to get “back to the grind” and return to the workplace. Vaccine and mask mandates have also led some to leave, creating unforeseen vacancies. With those vacancies, comes added workloads to current staff. Many workers may prefer remote, but in person often still matters for many companies and for many roles.

Benefits and back to work
There is a huge demand for staff as offices move many jobs away from fully remote. The proverbial “Help Wanted” sign appears to be hanging in all business windows. We are as busy as ever, helping companies find and win over talent. Many companies are offering bonuses or perks, using bells and whistles to attract talent. They’re switching up benefits packages, cutting down on out-of-pocket medical costs, offering hybrid work models, Alternative work arrangements, gym memberships and one of our clients are even providing Pelotons. Companies are seeking to win over staff, sometimes with perks, but may also make special considerations for the perfect candidate.

Employee exits
Mandates and individual company rules are impacting the job market, fueling some exits. News reports indicate some Americans are resigning positions because of mandates. We’re hearing about that, although to different degrees in different industries. Workers are leaving their places of employment, sometimes after years, due to healthcare or a desire to remain remote. Where are they going to be placed? Where will their job search be? Sometimes they head for different companies, regions or industries. Some are retiring. These exits are all leading to new job openings as companies ask staff to return to the office.

Rise of remote
The biggest changes and challenges are occurring at jobs that went entirely remote, at least temporarily. Remote work has had many consequences. As people shifted to remote during the pandemic, some moved to Florida or other parts of the South. Some moved out of cities, while others, often younger people, sometimes flocked to cities. It all depends on where you are in your life. If a company is filling a remote job, it can hire people from around the nation, drawing from a bigger candidate pool, and possibly a lower cost of living due to geography. We find that many employers are beginning to want staff in the office for most roles as part of their work week, which means hiring near the workplace.

Hybrid work week
While we are filling some remote positions, we’re seeing many companies searching for people who come into the office at least a few days a week for now. That blend varies based on positions and company culture, and there are certain positions where you must physically be in the office or at the work site. That said, we’re seeing a lot of hybrid work schedules, where time is split between the office and home, catch on. Time will tell what happens if and when there will be a shift back to full-time in office.

Generational differences
The workforce itself is more multi-generational than ever, creating a situation with different desires for what the workplace should be. Some employees entered the workforce as remote workers; others have been working in the office for decades. There are many generations in the workplace including Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and others. This creates opportunities and a situation where people may have different needs, wants and views. Many younger people want to live the city life, while those in their 30s and older may want to live in the suburbs, earn good money and not be a part of the hustle and bustle. Geography does matter in terms of who the workforce is and that has changed during the pandemic.

What do workers want?
I founded Marcum Search 13 years ago and have seen that what workers want has changed in some ways, but in others, it remains the same. Employees want a proper work-life balance, even if many define that differently. The younger generation may want summer Fridays, but the baby boomers may want additional retirement contributions. People used to stay in the same job for decades and retire. The younger generations aren’t doing that. They go in, bring what they have to offer, learn skills, leave, get more money and continue the process. You might find people who stayed at a position for two or three years. Many years ago, that would be seen as a big drawback. Today, younger workers look for specific needs to be met by their employer, whether it be company culture, benefits and or perks if a company can’t provide those, they’re on to the next. A brief time at a company is not perceived as a negative anymore, but it is a challenge for a company that does not want to repeatedly fill the same job. So companies need to not only do their best to attract, but also retain workers.

Transition time
I think this is transition time, and companies as well as employees need to position themselves for the future. Down the road, we most likely will see more of a hybrid model in many cases, but that could shift back to the traditional office work week. Companies need to fill positions, but also keep them filled further down the line. This may be the ultimate balancing act. As businesses and workers sort out a new normal, we are busy matching workers with companies and finding arrangements that work for both. This may make things more complicated, but it could make my company’s resources matter more. This can require more creativity and commitment, but in the end, we’re doing what we always have. We are recruiting and placing top talent.