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Staffing in 2023: The Good, The Great, and The Difficult

The end of the year is here again, and it’s time for every staffing writer to figure out, “What will staffing in 2023 look like?”

After years of what feels like never-ending change, it’s natural to want to get a grasp on something certain. We want to be able to look months ahead and know that we’re prepared for whatever might come our way.

But before we dive into our crystal ball…

A Note on Predictions

We have no idea what the year will actually look like.

No one predicted we would get hit with a pandemic. We didn’t know that there would be a culmination of years of pent-up frustration with the world of work. Nor that there would be a remote work revolution.

And even if we had guessed that, we likely couldn’t have fully prepared for it.

Every year, we sit down and aim to make our next year better. We predict what might happen, and we make a plan to handle it. Then, if you’re anything like me, you get frustrated when naturally, nothing goes according to your plans.

Staffing in 2023: What We’re Preparing For

So let’s bring the focus in tighter. Let’s just look at the next couple of months. What does the first part of 2023 look like for staffing? What can we do to prepare so we’re not caught out, but what can we do to understand that things will change?

A Renewed Energy of Hope

The most beautiful thing happens every year. January 1st rolls around, and we all wake up with dreams of brighter days and new routines that help us live our best life, and we bring those feelings to work.

Nearly 39% of adults in the US make New Year’s Resolutions (that number jumps to 59% for the 18 – 34 age group). That means that a large portion of the country is waking up on January 1st with a goal for a better year.

It may not last long. You may get hit with 200 unread emails that all need attention the second you sit down at your computer, but we hope you can kick off the year with that energy of positivity and optimism.

Going Back to Basics

Facing a recession often forces people to go back to basics – such as budgeting in their personal life or going back to their tried and true hiring practices.

That could mean reinvesting in training and internal growth in the staffing world. Or simply turning to the data you’ve already collected to cut spending on job boards.

We’ve talked about the value of earned data before. The truth is that you could probably be using it better. Earned data is often a goldmine, and investing in tools to help you use it is a recession-proof decision.

As the years progress, we often feel the siren call to do more, better, and new. In reality, using what we have and investing in something new when it’s really and truly needed is the key to success.

An Increase in Freelance, Temp, and Contract Work

For many people, the new year brings in the goal of “making more money.” They likely won’t see a significant salary increase in their current role, so they turn to freelance and side gigs to help. A study from ASA “found that 58% of adults are likely to get a second job or “side hustle” in the next year to supplement their primary income.” Gen Z and Millennials are the most likely to take on a second job.

For some, contract employment is their preference. In a recent study, 36% of employed respondents identified as independent workers, a notable increase over 2016.

This could mark an incredibly untapped market for the staffing industry if you aren’t already working in the temporary or contract space. 

Steadying Wages

As businesses were reopening, demand for the best workers was high, and salaries expanded to account for that. 

But as things level out, wages are doing the same.

As Staffing Stream pointed out, “In March, a record 11.5 million jobs were available due to businesses reopening, returning to workplaces and the public becoming more comfortable returning to travel. The jobs open rebound appears to be falling, with the August BLS report showing 10.1 million open jobs.” That certainly isn’t a massive change, but it is a downward trend, and as open jobs drop, it’s natural to see a leveling-out of incentives.

But remember: Steadying is different from cutting. Contrary to recession concerns, “55% of businesses said they will not reduce salaries if hit with a recession, and 47% said they will not reduce benefits.” The most successful companies understand that their success is intrinsically tied to their people. Devaluing them isn’t the way to get through difficult times. If employers want the most qualified talent, they’ll have to build a culture to appeal to it.

A Continuation of the Current Expectations

New year, new industry? Maybe not so much.

Beyond that, a survey from iHire found that “For the fourth straight year, employers surveyed cited finding qualified candidates among their top hiring challenges.” If your clients haven’t caught up with what the best candidates want, now is the time to put on your Talent Advisor hat and help them out.

We’ll likely continue to see the same desires from job seekers. Remote work, flexibility, quality pay to combat inflation, decent benefits, and stability will continue to be the name of the game.

Staffing in 2023 may look like what we’re thinking. Or it may not. What’s important to remember is that we move into the new year with an understanding that change is inevitable but not impossible to handle. As we see a steady stream of changes, we need to be ready to adapt to stay ahead…just like you always have been. While that can be exhausting, staffing teams are exceptionally skilled at handling whatever comes their way, and we have no concern that this year will be any different.

So here’s to you and your efforts. We know you’ve got this.