After years of high unemployment and sluggish job growth, there is cautious optimism for a better employment picture in 2014. Yet factors like the increasing role of technology, global competition and ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act will have an impact on hiring decisions for permanent, full-time employees. That’s why we believe many companies, law firms and government agencies will turn to managed services or contract staffing whenever possible in 2014. Following are three other trends we see developing this year for employers and job-seekers alike:
1. Preparation for Affordable Care Act Employer Mandates
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as it is more commonly called) continues in 2014. Although provisions affecting large employers have been delayed until 2015, as a managed service/contract staffing provider, LAC Group already has begun planning to make sure we are compliant. Most of our people are fully benefited, which enables us to attract the most professional, highly skilled contract workforce for information and knowledge management staff. We also are preparing to help our clients make the right choices to get the workers they need while meeting their own mandate requirements.
A reminder about the employer mandate: Beginning in 2015, certain employers with 50 or more “full-time equivalent” employees (FTEs) who do not provide affordable health care coverage may be assessed a penalty if at least one full-time employee qualifies for a premium tax credit and uses it to purchase coverage in the health insurance exchange. Full time equivalent has been defined as somebody who works an average of 30 hours per week over the course of a month, rather than the traditional 40 hours per week. In addition, the law requires employers to provide health coverage and fines some employers who may fail to offer coverage defined as affordable. The definition of “affordable” (which may change) means that the employee contribution to the health insurance premium cannot exceed 9.5% of the household income for low-income employees, and the plan must pay at least 60% of the costs of covered services.
One of the reasons our clients have chosen us in the past was to free themselves of some of the burden of payroll and benefit liabilities. We expect more employers to consider managed services as the mandate approaches and the payroll ramifications become clearer. LAC Group is following this issue closely and we are likely to cover it more in-depth as the year progresses.
2. Acknowledgement of the Skills Gap
It’s widely recognized that we are in the midst of a skills gap – HR managers of any large organization will tell you they have open positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates. We believe 2014 will be the year the skills gap is given higher priority and greater attention. Many companies are taking matters into their own hands by training those who don’t have experience or sending employees back to school. At LAC Group, we have been and will continue to be proactive about training and development in order to advance the skills and experience of our people.
Meanwhile, people who do have skills that are in demand (which are generally technology and information/data related), as well as high performers, will be able to exercise greater leverage and control. With easing unemployment, companies and firms may need to do more in the way of employee retention and job satisfaction. According to a survey of nearly 900 U.S. and Canadian employees polled online in October and November of 2013 by Right Management, 83% admitted they will look for a job in 2014. Only 5% plan to stay in their current position.
To close the skills gap once and for all, Brad Rogers, our Director of Recruiting, is a believer in continuing education:
“Every person should make the personal commitment to continuing education, especially for keeping pace with rapidly changing technology. People who are not familiar with current knowledge and information management systems cannot function in most skilled jobs today.”
On the employer side, he emphasizes the need for companies and firms to train and develop all workers as an ongoing priority—too often, employee training is provided in response to active concerns, and it’s usually the first to go when expenses must be cut.
3. Recognition of Contract Work as Legitimate Employment Path
Contract workers have been considered by some to be less desirable as job candidates; these days, contract work is an excellent path (and may be the only one in some cases) to full-time employment. According to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals, 24% expect to bring on full-time, permanent employees in 2014 while 42% plan to hire temporary and contract workers, with the intention for some of them to transition into full-time permanent staff.
Brad often advises people to accept contract positions, particularly in organizations that are considered excellent places to work. For example, librarians and archivists who express a desire to work at the Library of Congress may find contract work the only way to get a foot in that venerated door. In addition, it’s critical that contract staff do their work with high professionalism and enthusiasm, even if it’s not the ultimate employment situation they desire. We are the sum total of all our past experience. Giving less in a situation because it’s not permanent or where you want to be hurts only your own reputation and standing.
Finding the Needle in the Haystack
Employers who depend on managed services for some of their staffing needs often view it as the path to what Brad calls the “needle in the haystack” perfect fit. That perfect fit usually involves the right mix of a few critical traits:
- Required job skills
- Relevant experience
- Knowledge of the organization’s industry and markets
- Cultural and personality fit
Increasingly, organizations are looking for people with the right personality and attitude that will enable them to fit in and be happier and more productive. Brad notes that often times this elusive requirement for “cultural fit” is what eliminates an otherwise ideal candidate. It’s one more reason we believe employers will consider managed services more strategically in the future – it gives them flexibility to “test drive” a candidate before making a long term commitment, while maintaining control over their staffing needs.
Are you a job seeker? Check out our current job opportunities.
Are you a company or law firm? Contact us if you are interested in managed services or other flexible staffing solutions.