By Kristen Harris
At Portfolio Creative, Growth is one of our core values; we’re always focused on growth and learning. Each year we learn more about our industry and stay ahead of trends by attending the American Staffing Association’s annual conference, Staffing World. This year’s conference was a bit different–instead of a few thousand people coming together in Nashville, we gathered in an online virtual reality conference platform! A new venue, but the content and information were just as useful.
We love to share what we learn, so here are four trends we saw at this year’s conference.
Hiring and Staffing Trends for 2021 and beyond:
Remote Work. Remote and flexible work options have been growing in popularity; in 2019, it was #3 on our list. This year, regardless of the topic, remote work was addressed in every conference session I attended. Whether they wanted to or not, in the spring of 2020, many people had to start working from home practically overnight. Some companies like ours were already providing flexibility with work location and schedule; others firmly believed work could only be accomplished in an office setting and had no interest in the concept of remote work. While it might have been a little messy initially, people have successfully adjusted, with some finding it to be even more productive! How well remote settings work and how long this setup continues depends on many variables. But we firmly believe that the future of work will include more remote, work from home, and flexible schedule opportunities. After proving themselves, many people will expect some flexibility in where and how they work, and companies are responding to those expectations.
Technology vs. Human Touch. While technology has provided tools that make remote work and many other things possible, people still need human interaction. Isolation and loneliness have been adverse outcomes of this sudden shift to working from home, especially when people live alone and are restricted from social interactions. This has been a good reminder that technology can help get work done, but it doesn’t replace the human touch. The most significant opportunities within our industry, and many others, is to utilize AI, bots, automation, and other technologies to take care of repetitive tasks, allowing your human team members to focus on work that requires and thrives on human interaction. Let computers do tasks and let humans interact.
Robots and Retraining. With the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, we are seeing a major disconnect between unemployment reports and hiring feedback. Millions of people are out of work, yet companies can’t find the people they want to hire. This highlights the ever-increasing need for technology skills. Regardless of the industry, human and artificial intelligence/robots/technologies of the future will be working side-by-side. There is no time like the present to consider what retraining you or your team members will need to continue to thrive in a more technology-driven future.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 2020 has been an awakening in many ways, including a heightened focus on systemic injustices. Both companies and individuals are seeking to create a more diverse, equal, and inclusive society. No matter the topic, this was discussed in every conference session I attended. While there is much work to be done, staffing firms, recruiters, talent acquisition professionals, hiring managers, and anyone else who controls who gets the job have a lot of power. People who find, recommend, promote, interview, and hire candidates control access to meaningful work. By putting forward a more diverse slate of qualified candidates, representing people from various demographics, we can start to affect change one hire at a time.
Finally, there were reminders that we’re all humans getting through this together throughout the ASA conference. Struggling with technology, quieting a barking dog, answering a child’s question, sitting in our living rooms or basement offices, we’re all getting a glimpse into each other’s everyday lives. Typically we all gather in a conference center, far away from home, interact with our professional selves, and then go back home. Now, for many of us, work is home, with all of its humanity and imperfections. This year has taught me to appreciate people in their entirety and get to know them more personally. While I’d never have wished for all that 2020 has handed us, I do hope that we continue to see and know each other as good humans far into the future.