Although 2018 is ending on a strong note for many businesses, recruiting and retention challenges will carry over into 2019.

To provide accurate and timely employment forecasts for business leaders, Express Employment Professionals International Headquarters conducts an ongoing Job Insights survey to track quarterly hiring trends across a wide range of industries.

Express surveyed business owners, decision makers, and human resource professionals about the overall hiring trends in their markets and how they impact their hiring decisions.

Insight: Business leaders predict an optimistic end to an overall strong year.

Going into the fourth quarter of 2018, the economy continues to strengthen as 48% of survey respondents expect an upward trend in employment activity in their markets—a 14% increase over first quarter of 2018. In fact, on average throughout the year, less than 9% of survey respondents said they expected a downward trend in employment activity. Even more encouraging, 92% of companies do not plan to eliminate positions in key segments during the fourth quarter.

The top 5 segments hiring in the fourth quarter of 2018 include: General Labor (Industrial): 37%; Skilled Labor (Industrial): 30%; Administrative/Office Clerical: 21%; Accounting/Finance: 10%; Engineering: 9%

Insight: The jobs are there, but access to top talent continues to plague businesses.

A recurring theme throughout 2018, there are jobs available but the competition among businesses to recruit workers with the right mix of skills and expertise needed to fill them is reaching a fever pitch. In fact, 65% of survey respondents reported a “lack of applicants with experience” as the primary reason their open jobs are not filled—a 37% increase over first quarter of 2018. Only 16% of survey respondents said all their positions are filled.

According to the survey, top reasons jobs go unfilled include: Lack of applicants with experience – 65%; Lack of applicants in general – 65%; Lack of applicants with hard skills – 43%; Lack of applicants with soft skills – 27%; Pay is not competitive – 24%

Insight: Company policies may need to evolve to address increased legalization of marijuana.

With the increasing legalization of marijuana in some form in the U.S. and nationwide legalization in Canada set to take effect on Oct. 17, companies are being forced to reevaluate their stance on drug use. Although many companies will maintain a zero-tolerance policy, in a tight labor market, reevaluating policies for some types of positions may become necessary. According to the survey, 83% of companies exclude job applicants who do not pass a drug test, regardless of position or qualifications.

Survey participants weighed in with their own thoughts about their drug-related employment policies, including:

Company drivers who fail drug tests are suspended and given the option to enter into a counseling program. Upon successful completion of the program, the driver earns a certificate and then can start working again while continuing to be required to pass periodic drug tests.

It is important for employees to be drug free in our industry. There are many dangers to the employee and or their co-workers.

The only drug we would possibly allow is marijuana. Any others, we would not hire the applicant.

Depends on the situation; if the drug is for medical reasons, most jobs would still be open.

We may consider hiring someone who failed a drug test for an office position without driving responsibilities, depending on the drug and the area where they work.

Submitted by Lisa Hansen, owner of Express Employment Professionals, 243 S. Main St., Red Bluff. She can be reached at 528-3929.

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