5 Future Employment Trends to Watch

Lee Polevoi

With U.S. unemployment rates at a new low — 4.1 percent in January 2018, according to The New York Times — the competition for talent has become white-hot. Businesses wishing to stay competitive in the hiring realm can no longer look at what worked before and expect to thrive.

The challenge is to think differently about what constitutes employment. Traditional definitions of work have given way to advances in technology and changing cultural values. The strategic focus now is on what up-and-coming employment trends offer the best opportunities for the recruitment of quality talent today, rather than at some unspecified future date.

Here are five future employment trends you and your HR team should watch for to ensure you are developing a best-in-class workforce :

1. The Rise of AI

As a result of intense competition for talent and increasing need for operational efficiency, artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to the forefront as a strategic resource. AI-driven algorithms and machine learning facilitate the rapid-fire analysis of immense amounts of data — the types of data that help drive critically important hiring decisions.

Employment areas wherein AI has the potential for huge impact include:

  • Crafting search terminology for the best candidate/company match
  • Analyzing candidate resumes and experience to assess ideal cultural fit
  • Pinpointing a new hire’s optimum learning and training opportunities
  • Predicting his or her likely on-the-job performance and chances for long-term retention

Utilizing complex algorithms, contextual analysis and image recognition, AI presents new levels of accuracy and frequency unmatched by what “ordinary people” can do. When it comes to employment trends, AI can identify hiring trends and patterns at a far greater speed than humans “with its seemingly infinite capacity to learn, analyze, recognize and recommend.”

2. Agile team structures & the “gig economy”

The definition of ‘employee’ is becoming ever more flexible. Leading businesses are looking beyond the traditional definition to embrace the competitive advantage of hiring independent contractors, on-demand experts, outsourcing partners and others in the growing gig economy. This broader employment perspective enables businesses to better cope with increasingly complex challenges in the marketplace, while also leveraging new communications technology to manage a diverse on-demand workforce.

An agile team structure provides the ability to bring on talent with the precise skill sets needed and flex overall bandwidth for cyclical or temporary projects. By maintaining a small core workforce and scaling on an as-needed basis, business leaders can ensure that each workstream is completed in an efficient and targeted manner.

Finally, independent workers also represent significantly less business expense. According to Jeff Antonelli of the Berkeley Research Group, on-demand workers are “thought to cost an organization 20–30 percent less than a RFTE (regular full-time employee)” when factoring in workers comp, health insurance, paid time off and other benefits. As a result, he adds, “balancing the on-demand and the RFTE can dramatically ameliorate the bottom line” while maintaining a high level of productivity.

3. A New Focus on Workplace Diversity

It may have taken some time, but businesses are more alert than ever before to the inherent benefits of hiring for diversity. Such benefits include an employee’s broader perspective and experience, range of education, work ethic and sense of accountability. This can result in generating a more creative workplace environment and enhancing a company’s image.

To achieve the goal of a more diverse workplace, all elements of the hiring process must be studied to get rid of any inherent bias or exclusivity in documents and procedures. HR teams and hiring managers are achieving this in a multitude of ways, including using AI to sort candidate profiles and resumes in an unbiased manner and using data analytics to identify key areas improvement in hiring funnels. Not only will eliminating hiring bias produce a more creative workforce, but it will “widen the net” for potentially valuable new workers.

4. The Value of an Employer Brand

Speaking of image, employer branding continues to grow as a key factor in recruitment strategies.

It’s safe to assume that virtually all talented job-seekers want to work for an “employer of choice;” even gig workers, particularly those who complete sizeable and strategic projects, increasingly want to work for top enterprises. They’re just not going to take a company’s word for it. Employer branding must focus on promoting all of the elements candidates are looking for: a fair and transparent work environment, opportunities for growth, the “fun factor” and a full range of incentives and performance benefits (where applicable).

Just as important, when an employee’s work experience aligns with the employer’s brand, long-term loyalty is the likely result. That’s why increased retention may be one of the most important reasons to spend time developing your employer brand.

5. Using Social Media to Attract and Recruit Job Candidates

Social media may have been viewed with skepticism at some point in the recent past, but businesses today get just how valuable and all-pervasive it is, in terms of brand awareness and new customer acquisition. What may not yet be fully grasped are the ways in which social recruiting can meet a company’s search for new talent.

Effective social recruiting depends on targeting individuals based on the platforms they favor. Businesses must provide content that’s tailored to fit a specific platform and appeal to a candidate’s perceived job-related wishes and desires. These efforts can also promote employer branding by including images and video of employee events and activities that feature an inclusive, upbeat work environment.

Different employment trends offer different advantages to talent-hungry businesses, but all are worth examining more closely. The potential reward — a productive and loyal workforce — is a key contributor to ongoing success and growth across your entire company.


For more information about attracting and engaging on-demand talent to your organization, watch our webinar: How to Get the Best Talent in the Gig Economy to Work for You.

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