From the Cincinnati Business Courier: Talent Trends for 2018

This article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Business Courier on Friday, February 9, 2018.
 
As we move into the new year, there are several stories from 2017 that continue to dominate news headlines and the discussions of business leaders. The strong economy is likely to endure; an unemployment rate still hovering around 4.1 percent nationally will continue to fuel the ongoing talent shortage; and employee desire for flexibility, engagement and development will grow. But what does this economic backdrop mean for the talent market? Here are some of the trends we see for 2018 and beyond:
 

1. Salary and wage increases will accelerate. U.S. wage growth was sluggish in 2017, missing the 3.6 percent growth estimate by nearly a full percentage point. But with fewer candidates actively looking for work in 2018, employers should expect to pay more to lure talent their way. And as higher wages encourage employees to consider changing jobs, companies also should expect to pay more to retain the workers they most want to keep.

2. Companies will invest more in automation. As a result of the corporate tax cuts and the overall strong economy, we expect organizations to increase capital investments in, among other things, automation. This will drive even faster adoption of artificial intelligence and the demand for professional development and training for workers at all levels.

3. Organizations will look to assessments to help them find the right fit. The talent shortage, increased automation and the understanding that culture fit is critical to employee success will result in the hiring process becoming more sophisticated. Employers will have to work harder to ensure they get a successful hire, and many will increase their use of assessments to measure a candidate’s capability and culture fit.

4. Benefits will get more creative. The shortage of skilled workers and the possibility of increased employee turnover means employers have to compete with a stronger benefits package. As an example, more organizations are evaluating moving to unlimited paid time off, which is enticing to employees. 

5. Organizations will prioritize employee well-being. Employers are recognizing that employee well-being is closely tied to performance, and some are going an extra step to ensure their workers have the support they need. By providing support to remove barriers like the lack of transportation or child care, companies can increase employee productivity and reduce turnover. Improved support systems will be seen at all levels, from front-line workers to the C-suite.

6. The demand for flexible work — and a flexible workforce — will grow. Flexible schedules aren’t just for millennials. Workers will continue to insist on more accommodating schedules and options to work remotely. Employers want more flexibility, too, and will increasingly ramp up their use of contingent workers. By some estimates, contingent workers could make up nearly half of the workforce by the end of the year.

Predictions aside, there is no doubt that the battle for top talent will continue into 2018, and organizations will have to work harder than ever to attract, recruit and retain the best employees.