There is a lot of emphasis right now
by governments and businesses on getting the economy and employment numbers back to the way they were pre-recession. But are the pre-recession numbers the most appropriate goal for our current economic environment?
To regain the sought-after pre-recession employment numbers companies have had to learn to cope with new economic realities. For example, employers have learned to make due with less staff for the majority of the recession. Because organisations have had five years to solve the problems that come with understaffing, job creation at this point in economic recovery will probably be in industries related to population demographics and industries involved in economic expansion. Indeed, some of the biggest labour shortages that are seen right now are in nursing, due in part to an aging population, and in skilled trades and IT due to various government stimulus programs focusing on infrastructure.
The need to accommodate different types of workers has also been a change employers have had to embrace. Gen Y and public sector workers are becoming bigger parts of the private sector, forcing broad changes in hiring policies, workplace culture and employer-employee relations. Over the past few years there has been an increase of Gen Y workers filling new positions and replacing retiring Baby Boomers. Like with any new generation of staff, Gen Y workers in general have a different work ethic and different expectations than their co-workers. Although these expectations and ethics may not differ greatly, many employers are feeling the need to modify workplace culture and business practices to suit new perspectives. Additionally, with the current dominant work sector shifting from public to private, changes in workplace culture, policies and hiring practices are also being influenced by the increasing number of former public servants entering the private workforce.
In anticipation of a recovered economy we can see that the labour force is changing, which is in turn changing how employers approach and interact with employees. Although these accommodations were made in anticipation of a return to normalcy, they are becoming the new norm. Even though job creation is slowly increasing, and unemployment rates are inching downwards, the labour force landscape will continue to change. The population will continue to age, forcing Baby Boomers to retire and opening up the market for more Gen Y workers. Labour shortages will also continue, as there will not be as many workers entering the labour force as are retiring from it. As such, employers will continue to work with smaller staff numbers, and will need to continuously come up with new ways to attract and retain employees.
The current focus on pre-recession numbers by the government, media and economists does not reflect the continuing changes in the economic landscape. Indications suggest that the changes we have seen in the economy will be long term, and require thought and attention by companies if they want to survive. Like everything else in life, the economy cannot always stay the same. Changes in the economic landscape are inevitable as the economy, changes in available technology and social landscapes change and influence each other. It is important to recognise new economic and employment trends so that your business practices can keep pace and anticipate future needs.