Workforce Priorities for 2019

Employers are busy wrapping up year-end activities, all while preparing for 2019 and looking to make it every bit as successful as 2018, if not more. At the top of their agenda is the need to address some of the challenges they experienced in the last 12 months.

Training programs, employee engagement, as well as attracting and retaining top talent are the top workplace challenges that companies say they’ll be prioritizing in 2019, according to findings from the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study.

This makes sense, given the state of the economy – where job openings outnumber those looking for work and employees have more options available to them. In fact, 51 percent of job seekers in a Harris poll acknowledged that they’ve continued to search for employment opportunities even after they’d been offered a position.

CareerBuilder CEO Irina Novoselsky said that competition is fierce, particularly among employers.

“The fight for talent is only going to become more intense for U.S. companies,” Novoselsky explained. “Employers need to deliver on job seekers’ continuously-evolving expectations to attract the best candidates.”

Here are a few tips that can help you address some of the more common challenges facing employers heading into the new year:

1. Training programs

Even though many workers know that there’s been a bit of a power shift that has given them the upper hand, they still recognize that performance is what counts. As such, they want to build upon what they already know. Eighty percent of employers in the MRINetwork study agreed they’re now more likely to hire people who have transferable skills, but who lack industry experience or training. Additionally, approximately 1 in 4 job candidates said external training, coaching and conferences were among the best incentives employers could offer to retain them.

2. Attracting and retaining talent

What are workers looking for in 2019? The basics are still in high demand: Competitive salary and flexible schedules. At the same time, they’re also seeking benefits that entail hard work, ultimately serving as a motivation tool. For example, 51 percent of respondents in the MRINetwork study said they most wanted merit increases, meaning increased compensation based on their performance capabilities.

Sign-on perks are an additional bonus that can sweeten the hiring arrangement. Seventy-six percent of candidates in the MRINetwork study said company-paid insurance was their most preferred benefit, and interestingly, 59 percent of employers said this was one of the top perks they were willing to offer a potential new hire. In other words, theyre there for the taking–candidates just need to ask.

Another outside-the-box incentive that an increasing number of employers are emphasizing is customization of their parental-leave programs, so they’re more in line with what their workers most want, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

As far as attracting talent is concerned, job seekers want to be hired based on their qualifications above all. This may explain why more organizations are removing candidate names from job applications. LinkedIn reported companies are adopting this interviewing policy to avoid unconscious biases.

3. Employee engagement

According to the State of the American Workplace report from Gallup, 70 percent of today’s workers aren’t engaged on the job. In fact, many are just going through the motions, not feeling especially enthusiastic about what they do for a living.

Getting workers to truly love what they do starts with finding the right leaders who can inspire employees to aim high. Engagement also hinges on identifying what truly drives staff to give it their all. This may involve more one-on-one interaction with employees to determine what motivates them, or making adjustments to positions, so workers are in the roles that maximize their skillsets. Employees deliver on performance, and are at their happiest when they’re in roles in which they can excel. Forty-nine percent of candidates said career pathing was an incentive that would make them more likely to stay with their present employer and 36 percent of businesses cited this as one of their best retention programs, according to the MRINetwork study.

2019 is a clean slate. Executing on these priorities early on can set the tone for a successful year of hiring and retaining top talent.