PORTLAND, Ore. — The jobs-finding contingent at Mac's List has recently researched how hiring will play out in coming months.
Their verdict: Retention will be the watchword of 2020.
"Nationally, HR teams are struggling with retention and everything that comes along with that," explained Nichol Simpson, the group's director of hiring solutions. "Retention is a tough one in any economic climate, because it's affected by so many things: pay, benefits, culture, competition, and the list goes on. But the tight hiring market has continued through 2019, and employers are losing talent to their competitors like never before."
Which means employers who aren't already doing so must explore new ideas to ensure their workers are happy. Such notions include pay transparency and more inclusive workplaces, Simpson said.
Does the retention issue apply to Portland?
"Portland definitely has a retention problem, too," she said. "Workers at all levels are moving around a lot right now, and Portland hiring managers are getting ghosted by interviewees, new hires and even longtime employees who find better opportunities here or elsewhere."
Simpson and others from the group recently attended a Northwest Human Resources Management Association conference at which experts suggested employers learn about employees' motivations.
"Portland employers are grappling with some of those big retention-related issues — pay, benefits, culture, competition — plus they're finally dealing with the fact that pay is low here compared to other cities with similar cost of living," she said. "Local companies are finding ways to pay more, or they're struggling to find creative ways to keep people around if they can't increase pay."
That said, Simpson expects 2020 to get off to a roaring start, with a busy hiring season on tap to start the year.
"January is always a busy time for hiring, and this October is indicating that local companies are still growing and need more help," she said. "Often, if you don't fill a position before Thanksgiving, you'll pause the process and start over again after the holidays. A lot of our clients are planning to do that, as well as new positions that they'll open in the new year. Job seekers should be networking and applying in force right now, because there are a lot of opportunities out there."
Which, he adds, will make for a smooth transition from 2019, a year that Simpson called "one for the books. I'd describe it as bustling, but also destabilizing. Bustling because the economy has been good, more jobs were available, and more workers were making moves. And destabilizing because we're experiencing big shifts in the way we think about jobs and work."
The Portland Business Journal is a KGW News partner.