Navigating a more balanced job market: A guide for staffing leaders

Employers are navigating an interesting dynamic in the job market. The previously clear upper hand, held alternately by companies or job seekers and employees, has given way to a more balanced environment — something we haven’t seen in a while.

As we all know, talent held the advantage in recent years. But there’s been some shifting back in the direction of employers in recent months. That said, a shift is not a full-on pendulum swing. Employers should be cautious not to overestimate their leverage. Talent with specialized skills are always in demand. Organizational leaders, including those with staffing firms and their client companies, must remember this when assessing their recruitment and retention strategies.

Put simply, don’t overplay your hand.

We’re at a critical moment when it comes to digital transformation, particularly as it applies to the marketing, creative and tech spaces. Organizations must continue to focus on being employers of choice in order to attract and retain the best and brightest. Whether you’re looking to keep top recruiters within your own staffing organization or helping clients find talent with advanced skills for bold new initiatives, emphasizing the candidate/employee experience remains imperative.

Here are key factors to focus on in any market.

Flexibility and work-life balance. Continue embracing flexible work arrangements, including hybrid or remote options, respecting personal time and workers’ desire for work-life balance. If implementing return-to-office plans, adopt a measured approach. Given that so many employees and freelancers spent years working remotely since the pandemic, the transition back to in-office work calls for your flexibility and empathy. Recognize that significant lifestyle and scheduling adjustments are required, which could impact morale. Offering options like staggered in-office days, flexible hours and continued support for remote work as necessary can be hugely beneficial to your team.

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Competitive compensation. Benchmarking is important. Conduct regular market reviews about salary structures to ensure that your offerings are better than — or at least on par with — competitors. Benefits, perks, flexibility, organizational culture and growth opportunities are increasingly important to employees, but compensation remains most consequential. Employers that align their compensation strategies with current market trends are more likely to attract — and keep — top talent.

Upskilling and career pathing. Provide training programs, mentorship opportunities and clearly defined advancement paths. Investing in your employees’ professional growth through upskilling initiatives, particularly around AI, is critical. Fostering a culture of learning and development is crucial to employee engagement and loyalty. In fact, in our company’s new report, 90% of employees surveyed said that more perks related to professional development and upskilling would encourage them to stay longer with their current company.

Commitment to inclusion. Continue promoting an inclusive culture that values diversity and ensures equal opportunities for all. An environment that respects and celebrates diversity will attract a wider range of talent and helps fuel greater innovation.

Support for volunteering. Paid time off for volunteering is a meaningful benefit that fosters purpose and connection, which is instrumental in boosting job satisfaction levels. Additionally, volunteering-related initiatives can improve the company’s image in the community and strengthen its brand as an employer who values social impact.

Recognition and appreciation. Build (or supercharge) the habit of regularly acknowledging and rewarding employees. Recognizing employees’ successes boosts morale and reinforces their sense of value within and to the organization. Bonuses and awards programs serve as powerful motivators so give ample attention to both. But they’re no substitutes for cultivating an environment of appreciation. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere, promptly delivered “job well done” that highlights the specific ways in which a noteworthy effort helped the organization.

The question of who has greater leverage in the job market will become clearer in the months ahead. While employers are, in some ways, better positioned than they’ve been in the recent past, they’re not yet definitively in the driver’s seat. As staffing industry leaders, we should keep this in mind when considering our recruitment and retention initiatives. And we should guide client companies to continue building strong employer brands known for offering a great experience to job candidates and employees.

Anthony Donnarumma

Anthony Donnarumma
Anthony Donnarumma is the CEO of 24 Seven.

Anthony Donnarumma

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