Three 2021 job market trends that could stay around for a while

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Shoulder pads and parachute pants. They’re trends we didn’t think would stand the test of time, yet somehow, they’re still alive and kicking. When it comes to job market trends, we see a similar sentiment. Trends (both good and bad) tend to stick around for a while, which is why it’s important to look back before looking ahead to 2022.  

The candidate-driven job market we saw in 2021 led to a switch in priorities for both companies and candidates. Work-life balance became a priority for many as the pandemic continued at a steady pace throughout the year, forcing many companies to find ways to return to work, either in remote or hybrid fashions as the economy recovered. Our team of experienced recruiters have witnessed the ebbs and flows of the Midwest’s job market for more than 35 years and worked to help local businesses and candidates navigate the changes that 2021 brought. Here are three of the biggest trends we saw last year, and what they could mean for the 2022 job market.   

1. Higher wages

It’s no surprise that the average salary for many careers has been on the rise over the last decade. But, in 2021 we saw a steep jump as companies battled each other to win over their top-choice candidates. The U.S. Department of Labor’s latest report found that the average hourly earnings for employees has gone up nearly 5% over the last year. Our recruiters saw this trend among Kansas City businesses as we worked to fill positions.  

So, what does this mean for 2022? We will likely continue to see a spike in wages this year. In fact, private research group The Conference Board says salary increase budgets are the highest they’ve been since 2008 according to its latest survey. For candidates, this means you can expect to see higher salary offerings as you negotiate your next role. It’s important now more than ever to do your research to be sure you’re getting the compensation you deserve. Companies, if you can’t keep up with this change, our recruiters can advise you other ways to help attract and retain talent, like offering generous PTO packages and flexibility to work from home.  

2. An increase in flexible work arrangements

After many companies switched to a work-from-home model throughout the pandemic, some came to see the advantages in this style of work. More and more companies are finding their employees are just as productive from the comfort of their homes. A Gallup study found 45% of workers were working from home in some capacity by September 2021. That trend was well received by many job seekers. In fact, our recruiters saw an uptick in candidates requesting partial and full-time remote work options throughout the year.  

In 2022 we’re expecting to see this continue. As we’ve started off the year, our recruiters are already seeing the continued request for flexible work opportunities, and some candidates are only considering roles that provide this option. A survey done by Mercer reported that 87% of employers plan to embrace more flexibility, including merging to a hybrid work model. So, your company may have a leg up if it’s following this trend. If you’re not able to provide this type of flexibility, it will be important to showcase your company’s workplace culture and other benefits when attracting new talent.  

3. Increased employee turnover  

Job seekers and companies alike are recovering from the 2021 workforce trend many referred to as “The Great Resignation.” Throughout the year employees all over the country assessed their current role, and many chose to switch companies or even career fields. In November 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3% increase in employees quitting their jobs, which rounds out to about 4.5 million resignations in that month alone. This trend led to a candidate-driven hiring market that made filling positions difficult and competitive for many businesses in the Kansas City area. With many employees yearning for change, the fight was just as tough for companies to retain the talent they had.   

Our recruiters don’t expect to see this change anytime soon. Employees are beginning to hold their workplaces to a higher standard, and more job seekers are looking for a company with great workplace culture and benefits. While average salaries are beginning to rise, that isn’t the only tool businesses can utilize to keep up with employee turnover. Continued education opportunities, flexible work hours and larger paid time off packages are a few changes companies can make to retain the talent they have. Another great tool is working with local recruiters. At Morgan Hunter we strive to place candidates that will stand the test of time. By working with our recruiters, you can mitigate some of the employee turnover risks we’re seeing right now.  

If 2021 taught us anything, it’s that our companies can adapt to anything with the right people behind them. Our longevity in the staffing industry has allowed us to build lasting relationships with countless employers and the most sought-after professionals in the area. Whether you’re looking to start off the new year with a new career, hire on the perfect candidate or you’d like advice on how to navigate the ever-changing job market trends, our team can help. Reach out to one of our skilled recruiters today!