The U.S. employment picture may be fragile, but it carries some long-awaited optimism for 2013, as a majority of larger organizations (with $750 million or more in sales and at least 1,500 employees) expect to maintain or exceed 2012 hiring levels. This is one of the major findings of the 2013 Workforce Trends Study commissioned by Yoh. Yet despite this optimism, the study also reveals some impediments to hiring, including Obamacare implementation, the ongoing gridlock in Washington D.C. over the debt crisis, and other challenges to efficient workforce management.
One of the most alarming survey findings is that 91 percent of respondents report some challenges with candidate sourcing, recruiting, or both. Also consider that 75 percent of organizations surveyed anticipate increased dependency on the non-employee segment of the workforce, a source of increased complexity for many companies. How these organizations choose to address such challenges may affect their strategic workforce planning ability well beyond 2013.
Despite rising staffing levels and an expected increase in the use of contracted labor, workforce plans haven’t been adjusted to accommodate this growing complexity. Examining how organizations are reconciling their workforce plans, the study reveals that a mere 13 percent are actually mapping out multiple workforce contingency plans. What this means is that most workforce plans for 2013 are not factoring in some of the worst- or best-case scenarios that are most likely to play out over the course of the year. This statistic would not be nearly as frightening if reconciliation of the workforce plan was conducted with a degree of frequency. Yet 67 percent of the respondents delay this process for three months or more.
While not specifically stated in the results of the study, there is the implicit suggestion that these companies may be applying pre-recession strategies and tactics during the recovery, and given the recovery’s tepid pace, perhaps these tactics have been successful. However, these same companies may be slow to adopt updated strategies that will be necessary to better address growing demand.
One indication of this hesitancy is that less than a third of respondents report using social media platforms as a key component of their employment brand and recruitment strategy — a major missed opportunity. Many companies have relegated social media to a simple tool for broadcasting open job positions or performing tacit candidate searches on demand. These companies need to capitalize on social media for more aggressive candidate outreach, especially in an accelerating economic recovery.
So while many large organizations expect to hire in 2013, they may want to focus first on their workforce planning strategies to ensure they’re prepared for contingencies, can handle the complexity of contract workers, and can best leverage all available methods for sourcing and recruiting top talent.