4 Job Market Trends That Will Shape 2017

What does the future hold for the US labor market in 2017? If you are a small business considering hiring in the new year, here are some trends you need to pay attention to:

1. Filling the hiring gap. In 2016, the U.S. hit an all-time record of 5.8 million unfilled jobs. There are several potential reasons why businesses have been unwilling or unable to fill these empty positions. Some industry experts point to rising health care costs as well as the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election. Others reveal that there is growing concern among small business owners about finding the right people for skilled positions. More advanced skills and training are required for many of today’s jobs, such as a proficiency in math, problem solving, and interpersonal skills, as well as tech savvy and technical expertise.

2. Tech savvy required. Regardless of the industry, small business employers are looking for tech-savvy employees. This applies even to traditionally non-technical jobs, such as administrative assistants, customer service representatives, and marketers.

3. New emphasis on employee wellness. Given that finding and retaining talented employees has become a top priority and the cost of poor employee health has gone up, employers are looking for ways to reduce employee stress and encourage healthier habits among its workforce. Wellbeing programs are becoming more popular even among small businesses as a way to supplement their traditional health insurance benefits. According to a recent survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, more employers are turning to staff wellness initiatives in order to bolstering their bottom line and help their workers feel more happy and productive.

4. Preventing “insider threats.” After a rash of high-profile hacks over the past couple of years, cyber security has become a top business agenda. But, did you know that one of the biggest threats to your cyber security is your own employees? According to recent research conducted by network security company, Preempt, the security threats issuing from within a business are as big a concern as external threats. Some of the biggest issues include: Malware installed by careless employees as well as stolen or compromised credentials. In order to stop employees from putting business data security at risk, businesses need to focus more on employee training and good practices in conjunction with stronger cyber security systems.

All of these issues, while they are varied, are of extreme importance to smaller businesses in particular, since these businesses tend to have less resources to dedicate to their recruiting, hiring, and training processes. By being in touch with these trends now, and preparing your business for them, you’ll be more likely to start off the year on the right foot.

Why Are Small Businesses Struggling With Hiring?

While so many Americans are still struggling to find sufficient employment, it seems small businesses are having a particularly hard time filling their available positions.

interview-861513-mIn a recent survey conducted by Robert Half, 60 percent of small business owners responded that their biggest challenge in hiring or managing staff is finding qualified workers to do the job. This response came out way ahead of the next biggest concern, maintaining employee morale and productivity, which received only 19 percent of the responses.

These findings mirror the results of a Wells Fargo Gallup Poll conducted earlier this year. The poll indicated that 53 percent of small business owners were finding it very (23 percent) or somewhat difficult (30 percent) to get the qualified employees they need, and 27 percent responded that the difficulty in hiring qualified employees has hurt their business over the past 12 months.

On the surface, this all seems counter-intuitive. But this trend is likely due to two reasons:

1. The majority of small businesses are relying on out-of-date recruiting and hiring processes. According to the Gallup poll, a mere 15% of small businesses are using the Internet to recruit new hires. The two biggest ways smaller companies are finding talent are via word of mouth (63%) and employee referrals (47%). Depending on the nature of the business, this can seriously limit the pool of potential hires.

Why are small businesses reluctant to use popular online recruiting platforms such as LinkedIn? It could be many have tried it, but were unsuccessful, and those yet to stick their toes in the water are probably overwhelmed by it all. This is a problem because today’s workforce relies on the Internet heavily for many things, including finding a job.

2. There has been a shift in workforce attitude. The fallout from our chronically under-performing economy is that people’s priorities have changed when it comes to what they are looking for in an employment situation. Numerous surveys point to the fact that today’s workforce is primarily concerned with their career advancement. It’s a trend that many small businesses may not have caught on to. Small businesses also have fewer resources than their bigger competitors to offer a desirable benefits package, such as health care benefits and retirement plans.

The bottom line here is that small businesses need to be aware of the changes that are happening among today’s workers if they really want to put all their struggle in hiring behind them.

7 Warning Signs of Employee Burnout at Work

Even though the economy may be showing some signs of life, when it comes to small businesses and hiring, slow and steady seem to be the operative words. If you are running a small business and have been asking for more from your employees while providing fewer resources, then your employees may be at risk for work-related burnout.


Burnout is a serious concern. It’s not something that should be so quickly ignored- especially since instances of burnout on the job will typically occur among your most valuable, loyal workers. These are the people who are willing to tow the line to keep the company and it’s profits afloat.

As the owner or manager of a small business, make sure to be on the lookout for these 7 warning signs of burnout among your employees. Keep in mind that where burnout is an issue, many of these signs will come together and that their sudden appearance will generally stand out as both noticeable and unusual compared to past performance and behavior:

1. Lethargy, less productive. Workers known to be enthusiastic about their jobs start producing less. You may even notice a kind of heaviness, or conversely, a kind of dreamy disconnect as they go about their day.

2. Decrease in quality of work. Often, a drop in productivity will be accompanied by a noticeable decrease in the quality of the work produced. Tasks may be left unfinished or incomplete; there may be increased sloppiness or other work-related defects.

3. Health issues. Often, the stress underlying employee burnout can lead to a host of medical problems, from benign conditions, such as migraine headaches as well as unusually incidents of colds, flu, and other common viruses, to more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart problems.

4. Higher rate of absenteeism. When employees are not healthy, then they may claim more sick days. Moreover, even where an employee experiencing burnout is not sick, there may a reluctance to come in for work. Loyal employees who rarely missed a day, may suddenly have spotty attendance.

5. Moodiness and irritability. Workers who were once relaxed and amicable, suddenly become hard to work with. It will be as if they are surrounded by a dark cloud that follows them around. This moodiness and irritability may be directed at both co-workers and customers.

6. Less sociable. Employees who are experiencing burnout on the job, may suddenly become anti-social or more secretive at work.

7. Self-destructive behavior. Another possible warning sign of burnout is the appearance of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Even a drastic change in diet can be an indication that something is off.

In my next post, I’ll discuss what you should do if you suspect that either you or your employees are experiencing work-related burnout.