Based on the first couple months of the new year, it looks like general business and staffing industry conditions in 2023 will mirror what they were in 2022. In other words, don’t look for an increase in stability or predictability in the economy and job market anytime soon.
The first few weeks of the new year, for example, brought both announcements of layoffs at a number of well-known companies and jobs reports that were better than many expected, with the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level in 50 years. Indeed, that’s what we’re seeing in the sectors we serve; in some categories, people are still really in demand, while in others hiring has slowed or stopped.
We’ve also seen the rise of another workplace phenomenon, “rage applying,” where unhappy employees apply for multiple jobs simultaneously and reportedly receive offers for positions paying considerably more. Meanwhile, quiet quitting continues to be a real issue for many organizations.
These circumstances, along with concerns about other factors, especially inflation, clearly point to another year of instability and unpredictability in the job market and overall economy.
At the same time, all of this means customers will rely on the expertise, support and solutions from their staffing providers more than ever.
To that end, we are focusing more than ever on collaborating and partnering with our customers. We meet with all customers face to face at least once every couple of months and are in almost daily communication to make sure we understand how we can help them. For example, we’ve started offering single-source volume discounts to customers who are struggling, often because of the labor shortage or other conditions beyond their control. Taking great care of customers is essential to setting your company up for success. Equally important as customer care is taking a disciplined approach to planning and budgeting for these uncertain times. In putting together our budget for the year, we literally went line by line through each item in the general ledger.
This exercise led us to a number of steps we might not have taken otherwise. These included bidding out everything and moving to short-term contracts — six months max — with vendors, investing in shared technology and other resources to better link our multiple offices rather than operating as stand-alone units, and renegotiating many contracts with customers.
This thorough review of our budget also enabled us to identify operational changes we needed to make. We also modified our commission plans so they’re based more on aggregated growth each quarter, rather than the growth of individual accounts. At the same time, we increased our professional development and technology budgets to ensure we’re providing our people with the training and tools they need to maximize their opportunities for success. And we made a significant investment in our IT staffing business, including establishing a division in India.
The key to making this methodical approach to planning and budgeting work was transparency with employees. They’re all-in because they understand the importance of growth to the company and what it takes to achieve it.
While no one can know for certain what the future holds, we can take steps to prepare our companies to succeed even during challenging times. I hope sharing the steps we have taken helps you as you chart your own course forward. In the meantime, here’s to a new year filled with growth and success for your company!