In 2019, the majority of contracted technical talent were working onsite. Today, the complete opposite is true – the majority are now working remotely. Covid-19 sped up digital transformation and technology adoption at unprecedented rates: What otherwise may have taken an entire decade to implement happened in the course of a year. Organizations have successfully adapted to remote work, accomplishing both daily tasks as well as big, strategic initiatives. As a result, the wheels of change have been set fully into motion. Will work from home arrangements be the permanent way forward? Only time will tell.
What is for certain right now is the universal competition for technology talent. With limitless borders made possible by remote work, small towns and cities are competing for talent with major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York. As a result, the “Great Resignation” is permeating, and wages are going up across the country. Companies aren’t just competing for talent locally, they’re competing with companies from coast to coast and around the world.
So, where does this leave us? There are two major drawbacks I see with the current hiring environment: commitment and culture.
Part of what makes work worth doing is seeing the results – the fruits of your labor, if you will. The mass exodus and temporary mindset of today’s worker – both those considering contract positions and those working in full-time roles – is leading to a highly disengaged, transactional employee and contractor mindset. Employee burnout is happening across all sectors, and I think a contributing factor to that burnout is the way in which people are engaging with their work and the overall lack of commitment. In contract staffing, this comes with the territory. As a business, we work hard to build meaningful relationships with our candidates from the beginning; the staffing organizations that do are usually the ones that win out with really great, committed talent. This is becoming harder and harder with today’s candidate. They know they have options; without even looking, they’re being presented with new, higher paying opportunities. This, as we all know, will not last forever. What will last beyond the talent bubble we are all in are relationships. My recommendation? Don’t stop trying to build them just because you don’t have to in this market.
The second casualty of the remote working environment and temporary employee/contractor mindset is culture. In near overnight fashion, organizations took their operations virtual. The trouble is many have not gone back to readdress holes left open as a result of hasty decisions made quickly at the onset of the pandemic. As a result, culture is suffering. It’s easier to be dismissive of one another – employees and contractors of employers and vice versa – when there is no in-person interaction. Organizations are quicker to say, “So-and-so isn’t working out, so who else can you find me?” This can be harder to do when you have lunch with someone every week and take the time to learn more about them. When we can, we are advising our clients to invest in their culture and their people, contractors included, by having non-work-related conversations, addressing mental health and overall well-being, developing trust and transparency, and communicating often. It’s easy to move quickly in this environment. Stop, take a look around and make sure you’re building something beyond just today.
It will be interesting to see where we all are a year from now. Will organizations, especially in technology, still be working predominantly from home? Will it still be a candidate-driven market, and will candidates still be commanding top-end dollar for the work they are doing? Will they be more or less committed? And, perhaps more importantly, will people be happy with the work they have done over the last year?