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The parallels between the US and UK labour markets


The parallels between the US and UK labour markets

US businesses seem restless; always looking for what is next, what can be worked on and where new opportunities are.

I was recently invited to attend the SIA Executive Forum in Las Vegas, an event bringing together staffing firms and suppliers to explore the challenges they face. I was asked to talk about labour markets in Europe, but I was there to learn too. From technology deployment to client trends, it seemed a great opportunity to explore trends that might jump the Atlantic.

Political uncertainty

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first. The biggest single business issue in the US right now is the Presidential Election in November. AI and emerging technology came a strong second in the data presented by the SIA, but Trump vs Biden was the number one issue.

Beyond the political, what struck me most was the similarity between what recruiters report in the United States and the United Kingdom. Both have seen recruiters struggle with lower demand, especially for permanent workers. Temp numbers have remained stable, but costs are high, and clients too often buy on price, not value. This rang a loud bell, as the REC is currently running its Aim Hire campaign to support hiring companies. Cheap, contingent approaches to recruitment alienate candidates and stop firms from achieving goals like retention and inclusion. That resonated in the US too, especially as clients feel the pressure of competing for the best candidates.

Remote and hybrid working

Another similarity is the debate about hybrid and remote working. If anything, the US is still more remote than the UK. But demand has stabilised at about 10% of vacancies – lower than 2020, but five-times more than pre-pandemic. Perhaps this is driven by the sheer geographic scale of the US.

Delegates said that this has been mirrored by a large increase in hybrid work too. Many spoke to me about the management challenge this raises, and said they were developing strategies including setting clear expectations and implementing strong manager training.

Tech transformation

Of course, AI dominated many of the debates and I had a strong sense that US firms’ experimentations have gone further with their implementation than the average European employer. A key takeaway from this was how important it is to avoid tech transformation being led by IT – it must be driven by customer need, and the people closest to customers.

Original Article: PersonnelToday

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