Choices Make the World Go Round

Judy Collins |

In today’s fast-paced labor market we are faced with an array of choices. And choices are a good thing. Many of the time-honored conventions we all lived by have gone by the wayside. Choices must be made whether to hire direct or to hire via contract. Does a client company look for long-term employees or short-term? Choices must be made whether to work in an office or remotely. Does a prospective candidate prefer the camaraderie of the office or the flexibility of working at home? What lifestyle appeals to you the most; a regular and predictable 9 to 5 existence or a more free and open one? In short, now that we are faced with these choices, we should enjoy the opportunities they present and make the most of them! Recruiters should be alert to these trends so they can better serve their clients.

In the very recent past, the dominant paradigm was the direct hire of most employees, with supplemental staff provided by contract personnel. Most common was in-office employment. The onset of the COVID pandemic triggered a massive shift, disrupting what was the norm and imposing new realities. People suddenly could not or would not go into the office. Many companies were driven to cut back on their staff to stay profitable in the face of reduced business activity. Continued unpredictability of the path of the pandemic led many companies to be reluctant to bring direct hire staff back, fearing another wave of pandemic cutbacks. This led to an increase in contract hires. Contract hires allow a company to trim excess staff with a minimum of pain and a maximum of flexibility. Companies increasingly allowed remote working to keep their operations going. Recruiters should coordinate with their client companies to make sure they take full advantage of this situation and optimize their organizations, choosing the appropriate mix of direct-hire and contract personnel.

Client companies struggling to find a survival strategy to outlast the pandemic have the choice of continuing with their past norm of direct-hire for long-term employees or to take a more defensive strategy of increasing their contract hiring. Contract hires that work out in the short-term can easily be shifted to direct hire later when there is less uncertainty in the marketplace. Companies have this choice available to them to improve their profitability while reducing risk. Recruiters can make their clients aware of the potential long-term impacts of employee preferences noted in the “Turnover Tsunami” as characterized by SHRM’s Roy Maurer. Roy notes that a quarter of workers plan to leave their jobs when the disruptive effects of the pandemic subside. For those who will not come back to the office, direct-hire or contract replacements must be found. The choice of a remote work option may induce the reluctant employee to stay.

Employees today often enjoy the luxury of a choice between working in the office and working remotely. We can thank the pandemic, despite damaging impacts, for this blessing. We can also recognize that the confluence of the pandemic and electronic technology has given a boost to working remotely. Just a few years ago it would perhaps not have been possible for many jobs to be done except in an office environment. Now, with the advent of high-speed data networks, virtual meetings, powerful and innovative software, and the like, remote working has become a reality for many. For employees, this choice is a good one to have. They can now choose a path which provides them with what they value the most: the personal closeness and peer relationships of the office or the freedom and flexibility of working at home. Coach your applicants on these choices and help guide them to successful employment.

Lifestyle impacts on employees are evident throughout the marketplace. Many who regularly did the morning and evening commutes have now chosen to avoid the office for the freedom and flexibility of working at home. In a previous article, we cited a survey by Harvard Business Review which shows that about 40% of US employees would start looking for another job or quit immediately if ordered to return to the office full time. For employers who have not made available the choice of remote work, this threat looms. For others, of course, the office environment provides needed social interaction, peer appreciation, and a chance to get out of the house. This is an especially important choice to have! Regardless of which path is chosen, flexibility and nimbleness are needed in a company’s staff to survive and perhaps even thrive in the face of the disruptions caused by the pandemic. A healthy mix of direct-hire and contract employees will help with this.

Partner with a back-office provider to enable you to place these contract employees. They will keep up with the requirements of the regulatory jurisdictions, so you do not have to. If you are set up in advance, you can provide services at once. You can prepare your recruiting firm to better serve your client companies if you realize that CHOICES MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND.

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