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Ways the Inflation Reduction Act Affects the Job Economy

The Inflation Reduction Act recently signed into law by President Biden is expected to create 9 million jobs over the next decade, primarily in the clean energy sector. That is, by all accounts, a positive development for the job economy. But it also presents some logistical challenges that will ripple across industries and keep businesses occupied creating solutions for the foreseeable future.

The Blue Green Alliance prepared a breakdown of the different jobs expected to be created by the Inflation Reduction Act, outlining the sectors where they’ll be added – including clean energy, clean manufacturing, clean transportation, efficient buildings, environmental justice and natural infrastructure. The upshot: The largest piece of legislation to date aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change holds the promise of more fulfilling jobs, greater skill development and higher pay for those employed in these sectors. But let’s first consider what it means to the companies tasked with hiring for all those jobs.

Impact on Employers

The first thing hiring organizations should know is that jobs created by the Inflation Reduction Act will be rolled out over the next decade. In other words, employers won’t wake up tomorrow to find themselves competing for talent in a job economy blown wide open by 9 million new positions.

However, concerns that the labor pool is thinning are valid: Baby Boomers are already retiring, and many more will reach retirement age soon – a significant knowledge and expertise drain as a generation with enormous numbers exits the workforce. According to CNBC, about 4 million baby boomers are retiring each year. Subsequent generations don’t have the same sheer numbers to meet the demands of newly vacant positions, let alone fill those that this legislation eventually will create. Employees who move into these new jobs will also leave vacancies elsewhere. And because international work visas have been reduced in recent years, fewer employees from abroad are available to help buoy the job economy and ease the transition.

A shallow labor pool puts a strain on the hiring apparatus of many companies, but employers aren’t completely out of options. One of their most flexible and efficient alternatives: independent contractors.

Good for Employees

For Generation Z, the verdict is in: acceptable terms of employment no longer begin and end at a competitive salary and good benefits. Many Zoomers crave the flexibility and variety they find in contract work. Gen Z, currently the youngest generation engaged in the professional labor market, also have made a priority of landing fulfilling jobs in industries that engage their passions. A top choice: climate change.

In the coming years, the Inflation Reduction Act will help create millions of positions in the climate change field – and not only for engineers and installers, but for accountants, auditors, and many other industry-adjacent workers. Growth and advancement opportunities will abound. And because highly-skilled contractors tend to place more value on work-life balance than past generations, the chance to contract for businesses in this space – maybe for a few hours a day, or for only six months at a time – figure to be wholeheartedly welcomed by a wave of workers due to spend the next 30-40 years in the workforce. That’s a boon not only for employees, but also for employers.

As organizations related to climate change siphon off workers from other industries in the years ahead, many businesses will need to stay nimble to fill the void left behind. PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud has the power to make quick, rewarding connections – whether you’re a contractor seeking work or an employer seeking workers.

Looking for contract work? Check out the jobs available in PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud.

sgruenWays the Inflation Reduction Act Affects the Job Economy

Should You Hire Based on Skills or Experience?

With another half million jobs added to the U.S. employment rolls in July, and amid a dearth of applicants for jobs, hiring managers are changing the way they recruit talent. Traditionally, they have pored over resumes, checking them for qualifying education and experience. Today, however, artificial intelligence-based application reviewers, combined with applicant testing that can confirm whether a candidate has the skills for a particular job, are causing hiring managers to look at the process in a different light. It all begs the question: should you hire based on skills or experience?

When Skills Stand Out

Hiring managers often find they need to fill a position quickly, and with the advent of AI-based recruitment, they can now turn to skills-based assessments to determine if an applicant is right for a position. Sixteen percent of companies have even dropped degree requirements for jobs, looking instead to candidates who have completed skills “boot camps,” or self-study programs.

For example, a hiring manager is trying to fill a coding position. One applicant’s resume lists two years of experience coding in a language similar to the employer’s desired language. The applicant has worked on similar projects, so it can be assumed that they’re capable of working within a team environment. A second candidate has completed a boot camp specific to the desired language, but has no experience. Today’s hiring manager may take a second look at the coder who has taken the initiative to learn on their own time and can demonstrate knowledge of the language, knowing that it’s easier and less time-consuming to train an employee how to work as part of a team than it is to build their technical proficiencies.

Evaluating ‘Soft Skills’

Skills-based assessments aren’t just being used for professional jobs, such as programming and accounting positions. They are also being used to evaluate so-called “soft skills” for positions in customer service, retail and hospitality. Candidates are asked to take assessments that present hypothetical customer service scenarios that help evaluate an applicant’s ability to work under pressure and provide excellent customer service.

Other soft skills that companies want to evaluate include communication, project management and time management. Hiring websites like Indeed.com offer assessments for these skills, and applicants can complete these assessments in addition to submitting a resume for consideration. Hiring Managers can also ask behavioral interview questions during the hiring process to get assess the soft skills needed for the position they’re hiring for.

The PeopleCaddie Difference

Whichever way you lean when evaluating a candidate for a particular role – determining whether you should hire based on skills or experience – PeopleCaddie can help. Each candidate in our PeopleCaddie independent contractor network is vetted by a human, not just a machine. Candidates’ project experience and skills are evaluated by experienced hiring managers and can be explained in nuanced detail to any interested employer. Candidates are also reviewed by engagement: Those companies that have employed contractors through PeopleCaddie can rate and leave feedback on their skills and the employers’ experience with them.

In an employment economy that continues to be a job seeker’s market, hiring managers may find it necessary to bend or reconsider their traditional hiring criteria. And whereas employers once found certain degrees and experience levels to be essential, bare-minimum qualifications for a job candidate, a single skills class may, in some cases, elevate a less educated and experienced applicant over others in the eyes of a hiring manager.

PeopleCaddie is attracting the next generation of employees to its talent cloud. Find out how we can help you hire highly-skilled contractors for your open roles.

sgruenShould You Hire Based on Skills or Experience?

Navigating Workforce Challenges Post-Pandemic: Why Contractors Are The Answer

In most parts of the country, we’re dealing with heat waves and the back-to-school hustle. Who’s thinking about winter? If they know what’s good for them, it’s corporate leaders and hiring managers. In March 2020, as business and commerce ground to a halt due to the Covid pandemic, companies were forced to quickly implement work-from-home programs, restructure communications and make other adjustments to keep employees and the public safe. They also learned soon enough that certain changes to the workforce may be required, and contingencies built in to account for future restructuring, should it be needed. It provided a framework for dealing with public health challenges.

Winter will force us indoors and closer together, and ultimately create viral conditions we can’t ignore. While companies are identifying workforce challenges post-pandemic, they can’t ignore the fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 Covid variants and the newly declared public health emergency of monkeypox. Companies may again have to confront the task of adapting and reorganizing a workforce on the fly. But this time they’ll know what’s in store.

What’s Coming This Winter?

In addition to Covid and monkeypox, flu season is nearly upon us and is among the public health challenges that companies may have to overcome. Health experts are looking to Australia to determine how severe the U.S. flu season will be – and the news is not good. The current flu season in Australia is its worst in five years, with children being hit the hardest.

We can assume that a percentage of American employees will come down with a flu virus that sends them home and removes them from a company’s operations for at least a short time. But more may be forced to stay home with sick children, or perhaps elderly relatives in their care. And when combined with other viral threats, and given the effects of long-tail Covid, the flu could leave some companies short-handed for long enough to make a contingency plan a must-have going into the winter.

Creating a Plan for Workforce Challenges

While committing to prevention measures, such as having employees stay home when they or a family member contracts a virus, companies must also keep the trains running on time, so to speak. A flexible workforce will be key to ensuring that projects stay on track and the needs of clients are met.

Example: Let’s say an employee tests positive for Covid but is asymptomatic. That worker can work from home until they’ve tested negative for the virus and can return to the office. In this same vein, parents who are Covid-negative but need to stay home to care for family may still be able to work, given that the infrastructure is there for most companies to accommodate work-from-home options.

Additionally, a hybrid work schedule might help slow the spread of these viruses within companies, reducing the time that employees spend face-to-face and allowing staff to spread out physically while sharing time in the office.

How Contractors Can Help

There will be times when employees are not only unable to come into the office but are also too sick to work. In these situations, it might be necessary to pull in a contractor or freelancer to take over for the sick employee. For instance, a CPA tests positive for Covid and is symptomatic. Even after testing negative for the virus, this employee might need to continue to recover at home, either because their symptoms are severe or they’re suffering from long-tail Covid. Public health challenges are very dynamic. 

This is where PeopleCaddie shines. Employers can access the PeopleCaddie talent cloud and select independent contractors to fill in for staff employees who are out of the office. Managers will know they are selecting from vetted contractors, and they may be able to select contractors that have worked with the company in the past. Some companies will even want to bring one or more freelancers on board in advance of the winter as a sort of insurance policy, onboarding and training contractors to gain experience and work on a limited basis until (and only if) there is a need to ramp up their hours to backfill while other workers are out.

Like it or not, winter is coming – and with it we can expect more cases of Covid, monkeypox and the flu. Companies that prepare now, putting the necessary contingencies in place, will be in the best shape as these challenges arrive.

Contractors are the next generation of employees. See how PeopleCaddie is attracting them to its talent cloud.

sgruenNavigating Workforce Challenges Post-Pandemic: Why Contractors Are The Answer

Pitfalls of Contract Work and How to Avoid Them

Freelancing is often sold as a dream job. “Be your own boss!”Set your own hours!” Although those elements are certainly part of the package, the reality is that there is a downside to independent contracting. Some of these hazards are avoidable, some are less so. But being prepared offers a freelancer the chance to live their best life. Here’s how to identify and, when possible, avoid the pitfalls of contract work.

When Demand Dries Up

In most situations, an agreement between contractors and employers will outline the expected duration for any given assignment. Occasionally, this information isn’t available, and often circumstances can change. Example: For event-related freelancers such as graphic artists, event coordinators and performers, 2020 proved to be a black hole due to the pandemic. Most of these contractors expected to earn a certain level of income throughout the year, but when on-site events disappeared, so did their work. Circumstances changed.

In a less dramatic example, an accounting contractor who expects 40 hours a week from a client may suddenly learn they’re needed for only 10. How do they adjust to this new reality? While these scenarios are sometimes unavoidable, it helps to secure work well in advance and include scenarios such as these in contracts so they are accounted for when planning bills and finances.

When the Cup Runneth Over

When trying to plan finances around freelance work, some contractors have a tendency to overcommit. Avoid putting yourself in the position of stretching your bandwidth to the breaking point – particularly if it means doing so to keep up with a lifestyle beyond essential expenses.

No judgment – we all like nice things! – but a freelancer risks a lot more than a few luxury items if they come up short on a project. Failing to deliver, or late delivery, can be a reputation-killer. It could cost you future work with that client and may even end up in non-payment, depending on the severity of the situation. Take care to commit to only the amount of work that can be reliably delivered on time and at a high level of quality.

When the Taxman Comes Around

When receiving money as a 1099 contractor or freelancer, it’s important to set aside money for the IRS and to educate yourself on tax laws and procedures. This will help avoid being stuck with a huge tax bill (plus penalties) come April 15. Paying expected taxes quarterly and putting away 25-30 percent of earned income will help prevent an unwelcome surprise at tax time. It’s also advisable to consistently track business expenses and keep documentation. Hiring a CPA can help.

When Payment Is a Problem

Freelancing comes with some risk, depending on the clients a contractor does business with. Sometimes payment arrives late and the worker must make a choice: continue working and wait for payment or cease working. Although it’s tempting to keep working to avoid losing the contract, the client has breached the freelancer agreement. Hauling the client into court shouldn’t be your first instinct, but it’s important to hold them accountable and steer clear of clients who are late or absent on payday. Chances are, it won’t be the last time.

Freelancing can be a dream job, but it’s important to watch out and prepare for the potential pitfalls of contract work. PeopleCaddie can help by making it simple to find work, structure agreements, get paid consistently and on time, and take care of taxes and insurance, allowing independent contractors to sidestep some of their toughest challenges right out of the gate.

PeopleCaddie can help you navigate the pitfalls of contract work. Contact us to find out how.

sgruenPitfalls of Contract Work and How to Avoid Them

The Unique Value of the PeopleCaddie Ratings System

The Unique Value of the PeopleCaddie Ratings System

One of the more difficult aspects of job seeking for independent contractors has been conveying the value of skill, experience and past results to hiring professionals. Creating and updating resumes and portfolios takes time and effort, which can add up for workers on shorter contracts. Companies don’t always invest in or track the performance of contractors as they would their full-timers, leaving them at a disadvantage when attempting to attract future employment. For a contractor, putting your best foot forward often feels like an elaborate game of Twister.

And it’s no picnic on the other side. Recruiters increasingly rely on algorithms to sort through the first wave of job applicants. Even the old stand-by – references – are no longer a reliable resource. The transparency of information from candidate-provided sources has always been suspect at best, of course, but companies have also become skittish over time about potential legal liability, most commonly defamation.

PeopleCaddie has an answer to the problem: a unique ratings system that helps recruiters who access our talent cloud to better understand what a candidate may provide their company after hiring. Rather than relying on the vague qualitative analysis and uncertain motivations of traditional references, PeopleCaddie’s rating system quantifies the hiring and job-seeking process, transforming crowdsourced data into insights that help both employers and employees. Here’s how they work:

Quantitative vs. Qualitative: Making Hiring More Reliable

The varied priorities and personalities among managers and supervisors might lead one to draw dramatically different conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of an employee than another. Rather than basing the hiring process on subjective criteria and opinions – qualitative analysis – PeopleCaddie is reinventing traditional hiring using standardized quantitative measures. And because every PeopleCaddie contractor is required to accept our terms of use, all reviewers are indemnified against any liability related to their feedback, allowing them to provide ratings without fear of legal ramifications.

The PeopleCaddie ratings system covers three key areas:

  1. Quality of work
  2. Timelines of work
  3. Contractor professionalism

Contractors are rated by former employers on a scale of 1-5 stars within each of these categories, and PeopleCaddie combines those scores to assign the contractor a composite star rating. This helps employers searching for contractors to quickly identify top candidates and compare them against one another.

Trustworthy References: No More Unverified Sources

Under the traditional hiring system, checking references was a difficult, time-consuming process that often couldn’t be verified. A hiring manager might know that a candidate worked at Company X, but they couldn’t be certain who that candidate worked for or reported to directly. A candidate had the ability to cherry-pick their best references – perhaps even peers or friendly colleagues willing to speak in glowing terms.

On the PeopleCaddie platform, however, a candidate’s rating must come from a person who was responsible for approving their timesheets or directly supervised the contractor at a previous employer. Our database even indicates how many ratings a contractor has received from employers within our network, as well as who within each company provided that contractor’s rating. And if a candidate hasn’t previously worked for a company in the PeopleCaddie network, we take the necessary steps to verify the person identified as the candidate’s supervisor, leveraging resources such as our proprietary user network, LinkedIn, Zoominfo and others in order to ensure that our clients have the benefit of full transparency.

Hiring is an inexact science. The stakes are high and the success rate historically has tended to be lower than most employers care to think about. But with a quantitative candidate evaluation system and reference verification, PeopleCaddie clients have the resources to remove the guesswork from hiring to bring on contractors confidently.

Interested in learning more about the PeopleCaddie ratings system? Contact us!

sgruenThe Unique Value of the PeopleCaddie Ratings System

The Great Resistance Analyzed

Two years after the pandemic forced much of the American labor force out of the office and into work-from-home mode, many workers have learned something: they liked the change. No commute. More time with loved ones. Flexibility to run errands or handle appointments. The benefits of remote work are undeniable, perks that many workers had never before experienced – and are now reluctant to give back. It’s being described as The Great Resistance: workers who, after being sent home during the pandemic, are reacting to the current push from employers to return to the office by pushing back themselves.

What does it mean for business? How about labor? And, particularly, independent contractors? Let’s investigate.

Employees Hold the Upper Hand During the Great Resistance

It’s no secret that today’s workers are enjoying virtually unprecedented leverage in the employer-employee relationship. Many companies, after retrenching or completely shutting down due to Covid, have struggled to ramp up production again and are experiencing The Great Resistance. An eagerness to re-staff, combined with retirements and pre-retirement age employees choosing to leave the workforce entirely during the pandemic – also known as The Great Resignation – have created a record-high number of job openings. Meanwhile, organizations have been scrambling to offer higher salaries, improve benefits and generally bend to the will of labor in order to attract the best talent and dissuade current employees from looking elsewhere.

But many business leaders seem to be drawing a line in the sand when it comes to work from home. In May, a leaked email from Elon Musk mandating a minimum 40-hour in-office week for Tesla employees contained the stern subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptable.” (Asked to consider the stance of Tesla employees who were critical of the policy, Musk tweeted that “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”) JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has made similarly dismissive public comments, saying in one interview that “people don’t like commuting, but so what?”

No matter how impatient employers may be with the labor market’s shift toward normalizing remote work – and the logistics issues it can raise – antagonizing employees (especially in this moment) is a dicey approach. Also: It won’t do any good. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 76 percent of people with access to an office who are instead working from home say they’re doing so because they prefer it – up from 60 percent in 2020. The genie is out of the bottle. Remote and hybrid work, like them or not, are here to stay.

Opposition to an Office Return: an Opportunity for Businesses 

There are some valid reasons for employers to urge workers back into the office. Some businesses require on-site labor in order to operate, the vast majority of whom have already returned. Others simply run more efficiently when staff is able to make smoother project handoffs and collaborate in a shared workspace. A recent study even found that remote work yields fewer creative ideas than the typical in-office model.

But rather than staunchly opposing work from home, companies should consider finding ways to embrace it. In many cases, it’s possible to find a reasonable compromise even when a full remote option for every employee isn’t feasible. At the very least, offering WFH Fridays or a set number of monthly remote-work days per employee signals to workers that a company hears them and acknowledges the new paradigm. Turning a “So what?” into a “So where?” can be the difference-maker that helps a company attract  and retain the best employees.

Need help navigating the current labor market. PeopleCaddie can help. Check out how by clicking here.

sgruenThe Great Resistance Analyzed

Rethinking Workplace Benefits

In today’s job market, companies are facing stiff competition for skilled, reliable and qualified employees. In the current labor climate, one of the major deciding factors for workers evaluating open positions or job offers are the workplace benefits that come with a role.

Just as the job market is changing, workers have begun prioritizing benefits differently. Here are a few important considerations for employers trying to stay a step ahead of these changes:

Traditional Employee Benefits

For many years, the typical series of benefits companies offered to attract employees was fairly standard: health insurance, vacation/PTO, sick leave, and pension/401k with possible contribution matching.

In many cases, however, employees either didn’t have the need or felt unable to access at least some of these offerings. For instance, a married worker who was already covered under their spouse’s health insurance wouldn’t benefit from a second health plan. Additionally, many employees have avoided taking advantage of paid time off, concerned that their absence might place a burden on their coworkers, company or customers.

How Covid Changed Worker Priorities

The upheaval of the pandemic turned the labor market on its head – and with it, worker expectations. After employees began working from home, weaving child care into their work days and building more flexibility into their lives, many workers began reevaluating the traditional work-life balance.

Working from home also allowed employees to eliminate their commutes, resulting in more personal time and, in many cases, healthier habits. Remote work allowed for more sleep, home-cooked meals, workouts between meetings and spending more time with loved ones. These lifestyle changes, for many workers, have become non-negotiable even as companies begin angling toward a return to the office.

Adjusting to New Benefits Expectations

Given the shift in the labor market, with employees now holding as much leverage as they have had in decades, most companies are (wisely) rethinking their benefits packages and asking questions they possibly haven’t considered in years: What do employees really want? What are competitors offering in terms of benefits?

Because work-from-home is a benefit that has climbed the list of typical worker priorities, employers willing to offer the option will want to determine its boundaries. For example, if an employee is allowed to work outside the office, is the benefit restricted to their home or can they work anywhere – a coffee shop, the beach, out of the country? How might a worker who takes a break to run a quick errand be handled from a payroll standpoint? Are these moments considered PTO or should they be treated the same as a conversation at the water cooler or a restroom break in the office?

And what about hybrid work? How does an employer determine which days a worker is required to be in the office? Should the decision be left up to the employee? If so, how will workers sync up on projects if their days in office don’t align? A hybrid model may still work when collaboration between colleagues is necessary, but employers should give plenty of advance consideration to whether and how it fits into their business.

Ultimately, today’s workforce is looking for flexibility – flexibility in work location, hours and sometimes even tasks. Until the labor market shifts yet again and jobs become more scarce, employers should continue evaluating and adjusting traditional benefits, and find ways to offer workers the flexibility they seek in order to compete for the top talent in the job market.

Need more insights on how to manage your labor force? Check out the PeopleCaddie blog.

sgruenRethinking Workplace Benefits

Part-Time Employees Vs. Contractors: An Examination

A question for employers: Are all employees created equal? Or, more aptly, should they all be treated the same? No one doubts that full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors and seasonal employees all deserve certain basic rights, considerations and courtesies, of course. But does it actually make sense for employers to approach each of these different types of roles in a similar fashion? If the objective is a well-connected, well-oiled workforce, then the answer is yes.

Consider one example: When a company hires part-time employees, they may work 20 hours every week for a full year. In the case of a contractor, they could work full time for six months and then not work for the next six months. At the end of the year, both employees have worked the same number of hours, and theoretically they have contributed the same amount of work to the company.

Why, then, are part-time employees often considered “internal,” while the contractor is considered part of the company’s external talent pool?

It’s a fundamental question framed by urgent immediate context: In the midst of the current labor shortage, more companies are looking to freelancers and contractors to supplement their workforce. But these organizations may not currently be equipped or have processes in place to properly manage this mix of traditional employees and independent contractors. Where should they begin to align?

Communication is key. In the workplace, this goes for communication about projects and work tasks, as well as human resources and employee information. Contractors often serve roles that are similar or identical to those of other employees, so failing to deliver them the same (potentially business-critical) information could actually be detrimental to the company. And in this labor market, with more businesses adopting hybrid work schedules, it’s even more important that all staff is working from the same playbook in order to complete deliverables.

Managers and employers should view all of the various worker classifications (traditional W2, part-time W2, contractors, freelancers and consultants) as essential components of a single combined workforce. This will result in improved efficiency, higher productivity, clearer communication and, not to be overlooked, a more unified workplace staffed with more satisfied employees.

Those are all worthy goals, and there are tools available to employers to help achieve them. PeopleCaddie makes it easy to get in touch with former contractors, hire and onboard whenever needed. Let’s say a software contractor has just finished a project, but it’s necessary to bring them back for modifications, enhancements or product support. A freelancer is more likely to return to an organization when they were treated well during their first stint supporting the company. When an employer treats their contingent workforce the same as the company’s other employees, they’re more likely to develop solid relationships and ensure that they cultivate a pool of reliable resources.

And what organization wouldn’t want to bring in an employee who is already familiar with their co-workers and company processes, and who has already been integrated into the company culture? That employee will undoubtedly have an easier time being brought up to speed, and they figure to make for a better immediate fit than a candidate who is completely new to the organization.

Think of contractors the same as you do full-time staff and offer them the same communication. By integrating the two talent pools and demonstrating that they receive equal consideration from management, you’re more likely to build a productive, united workforce.

Considering adding contractors to your workforce? See how PeopleCaddie can help.

sgruenPart-Time Employees Vs. Contractors: An Examination

Minimize Stress in the Workplace

Stress is making workers sick. From high blood pressure to heart disease to mental health issues, employees are increasingly at risk due to stressors in the workplace. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford School of Business, recently told the Boston Globe that more than 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to adverse work conditions. That figure, which doesn’t account for workplace injuries, reflects only those deaths tied to “workplace management.” As American workers push themselves harder than ever to get ahead (or just maintain their place) at work, businesses are striving to do more with less – and employees are feeling the strain. Despite this grim development, employers can find ways to minimize stress in the workplace.

Stress manifests itself in different ways in the work setting: employee absences, increased doctor visits and extreme moods or outbursts, for instance – and it’s important for employers to watch for these signs and adjust accordingly. Supervisors and business leaders control many of the factors at work that ensure a colleague’s workload is manageable and their environment is comfortable and conducive to productivity.

Let’s say a typically productive employee begins slipping – calling in sick or showing physical signs of stress, such as exhaustion – it’s a good time to check in with the employee. Tactfully, ask how they’re doing. A conversation alone can help minimize stress. Are they overloaded? Do they feel they’ve been forced to take on too much responsibility? Is there anything that can be done to help ease their burden at work or, if possible, make things easier outside the office? The nature of the employee’s difficulties may not fall within the scope of the workplace, but even just a bit of empathy can show a worker that they’re valued. Regular check-ins open a dialogue that could help a colleague manage and possibly solve their problems.

Today’s workers are under extreme pressure to produce. With post-Covid staffing shortages and increased costs of doing business, working – whether in or out of the office – can be an intense and difficult experience. Quotas and sales figures hang over the heads of many employees. And in our increasingly data-driven society, key performance indicators (KPIs) add new levels of stress for others. Under pressure to hit their numbers, employees may work extra hours, possibly foregoing sleep, exercise and down time with family.

In light of all this, employers should prioritize providing resources to help employees minimize stress. Offering a medical plan that includes mental health services can help workers seek help when needed. Offering a “quiet room” or a day off to a stressed out employee can make all the difference. In one study, doctors took blood pressure readings of employees under extreme stress and noted their elevated numbers. After a 5-10 minute break in a quiet environment, when the immediate stress had subsided, those individuals’ blood pressure readings had decreased.

Again, check in with your employees on their workload, stress levels and, if appropriate, home life. Establish a process for evaluating workers and helping to lower their stress and anxiety. These processes might include reviewing the employee’s workload, meeting with the employee to determine the sources of workplace stress or connecting the employee to healthcare resources. Reducing stress in the workplace has a cascading effect on productivity, but hopefully we’re all looking out for the well-being of our colleagues simply for its own sake. It’s up to employers to set that example.

Looking for more tips on managing your workforce? Check out the PeopleCaddie blog.

sgruenMinimize Stress in the Workplace

Rethinking Hiring Habits and Norms

There was a time when college credentials held more weight in hiring than they do today. Fresh from commencement, graduates would often have more chances of obtaining a job than someone with commensurate experience. But today, particularly in the field of information technology – and especially in the private sector – skills are beginning to outweigh education. Companies are rethinking hiring habits and how they evaluate and hire employees.

Historically, degrees had been a proxy for certain capabilities. In the rapidly changing tech industry, however, companies are taking a closer look at candidates who have deep practical experience even if they don’t have a degree. For example, a prospect with four years of real-world software-development or system-administration experience might find it easier to compete for a position than a candidate who has a four-year degree and no experience.  

In rethinking their hiring habits, recruiters must also consider how an employee will fit within a company’s corporate culture. An IT professional with experience is likely to need less support from their peers to be brought up to speed than a new college graduate. This makes for a smoother transition and onboarding experience, and less strain on the company’s workforce.

The technology sector, in particular, has a high rate of turnover, as professionals are often engaged through finite-duration contract jobs, and employers are constantly competing for skilled workers. From the standpoint of both return on investment and productivity, it’s critical to minimize the time it takes to onboard,  train, and offboard an employee.

As recruiters and human resources professionals strive to make the hiring process more efficient and cost-effective, many are relying on artificial intelligence to take a first look at incoming resumes. AI models can pick up skill-specific keywords, which makes recruitment more effective. College degrees become almost irrelevant – or are at least weighted differently. Relevant skills diminish the importance of a degree as a singular criteria.

While some industries will benefit from requiring a four-year (or longer) degree, others – such as information technology – are attuned to demonstrated, relevant skills. On the bleeding edge of technology, time is of the essence, skills are quickly rendered obsolete and workers have to keep their skills sharp with real-life experience. A worker who has shown they can do the job right now brings special value to the table.

Employers and their recruiters should re-evaluate their own hiring protocols, deciding whether skills or schooling should be weighted more heavily during recruitment. The decision might mean the difference between a costly and inefficient hire who is saddled with increasingly exorbitant student-loan debt and an easily onboarded and valuable employee who doesn’t need the additional compensation to service their debt.

Rethinking your hiring habits? You might want to consider contingent labor. Contact us to find out how PeopleCaddie can help.

sgruenRethinking Hiring Habits and Norms