How Enterprise-Focused Trends Are Impacting SMBs

By Michael Klazema on 4/11/2019
The employment world is a constantly-evolving organism driven by everything from technological leaps forward to shifts in culture. Below, we picked out ten enterprise-focused trends that SMBs should expect to encounter and contend with in 2019.

1. The rise of the gig economy

The gig economy isn’t going anywhere. Freelance work is on the rise, whether in the form of gig-based companies like Uber and Postmates or writers, web designers, graphic designers, and consultants who sell their services by the job rather than on a salaried basis. According to NASDAQ, 43 percent of the workforce will be freelance by 2020.

Many modern workers are falling in love with the perks of the gig economy, from the ability to set their own schedules to the freedom of being able to work from virtually anywhere. In the coming months and years, SMBs should work to adapt to this new version of the job market and determine which parts of their organizations can go “gig.”

2. The competition for talent

The unemployment rate rose slightly in January 2019—to 4.0 percent, from 3.9 percent the month before. However, even with the first signs of a potential economic downturn starting to show, it is still a job seeker’s market, which means employers are competing fiercely for talent. Expect this trend to continue throughout 2019, with employers adding more focus to attracting and retaining the best employees by whatever means necessary.

3. The focus on company culture

One priority that has grown for employers in this job seeker’s market is company culture. To attract the brightest talent, organizations need to establish a strong and notable employer brand. This branding consists of multiple elements from recognizability to competitive salaries.

Perhaps the most critical element is company culture. For millennials and Gen-Zers, work is less about making ends meet and more about finding purpose and a sense of belonging in the workplace. Only employers with strong company culture can provide these things—a fact that has left employers striving to build positive, collaborative, mission-driven, and all-around fun places to work.

4. The drive to improve the candidate experience

Candidate experience can impact an employer’s brand and affect its ability to attract and hire top talent. Employers have come to understand this fact more in recent years as unemployment rates have dropped and sites like Glassdoor have made it easier for candidates to share their experiences. A major employment trend is the push for better candidate experiences.

Some of this mission is policy-driven—like communicating with candidates about their application status, or not starting interviews late. A lot of it is propelled by automation. More employers are implementing applicant tracking systems, chatbots, digital surveys, video interviews, and other tech-savvy strategies for keeping things moving throughout the interview process.

5. The reduction in time to hire

Part and parcel to the candidate experience conversation is time to hire. Companies can’t afford lengthy hiring processes anymore lest their top candidates are scooped up by competitors. HR technology like applicant tracking systems can help reduce time to hire, but there are other factors as well, including recruiting, talent pipeline strategy, stronger job postings, background checks, and new employee onboarding. Going forward, expect employers to experiment with these different steps to continue minimizing time to hire.

6. The diversification of benefits packages

Another side effect of the job seeker’s market is the growing importance placed on benefits. Things like medical coverage and 401(k) contributions have always been important, but they are only the beginning today. Millennial job seekers have changed the game in this regard by demanding more from their employers.

High salaries are one way to attract talent, but many candidates are looking for companies with intriguing and creative benefits. Student loan repayment options; workplace wellness initiatives; flexible work schedules; unlimited vacation; corporate social events; expansive options for career and skill development; on-premise childcare…all these benefits are attractive to today’s workers, and many of them weren’t even on the radar ten years ago. SMBs would be wise to monitor this trend going forward to understand what their prospective employees might be seeking.

7. The growth in compliance concerns

Especially when it comes to screening new employees, businesses are contending with new compliance concerns regularly. Some factors of compliance for background checks have been there for a long time, like the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the state laws that dictate the use of arrest records in hiring decisions. Other movements are newer. Ban the box, for instance, is a growing trend that has required many employers to eliminate questions about criminal history from their job applications and delay their background checks until later in the hiring process. Changing laws and ordinances demand that employers pay close attention to legislative shifts locally and state-wide.

8. The debate about data

Companies like Facebook have faced major backlash recently for the way they track, store, and use customer data. One of the big concerns for enterprises of all sizes in the years to come will be how to strike a balance between the benefits of using data and the inherent privacy implications of tracking it. In addition to being respectful of customer data, employers also need to be careful about how they store and secure employee data.

9. Embracing the remote worker

Commuting is bad for our health, and economic epicenters aren’t always affordable places to live. These factors, along with the ever-increasing sophistication of the internet as a work tool, is making the prospect of remote work more attractive for job seekers.

Employers can reap benefits here, too, from smaller offices to broader talent pools for job openings. The question for SMBs is how to implement opportunities for remote work or telecommuting without sacrificing company culture, collaboration, or productivity.

10. The implications of the #MeToo movement

The #MeToo movement has brought to light the prevalence of sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault across our entire society, including in the workplace. All companies need to reckon with this ever-evolving issue and understand just how deeply ingrained it is. The battle against misconduct in the workplace will be fought in numerous areas of an SMB, from background checks to employee training to insurance to internal policies for investigating allegations of misconduct.

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