Staffing Trends for Northwest Employers – 2020 Style!

Staffing Trends for Northwest Employers – 2020 Style!

by Sara Bennett | January 22, 2020



How Will Staffing, Recruiting, Hiring and Retention Look Different in 2020?

2020 marks not just the end of another year, but the end of a very long and change filled decade of staffing changes and challenges.  Remember that exciting time at the beginning of the decade when you could find a great employee within a few days of casual recruiting?  When you didn’t have to be a technology genius to figure out how to find and attract candidates?   When your biggest worry was how to financially afford to retain your best employees, not wonder who was going to resign for a better offer tomorrow?

Yes, times have changed ….and even walking into 2020 we think there will be some new challenges for Northwest employers – pieces of the staffing and recruiting landscape that may look a bit different in 2020 compared to 2019.

So yes, it’s time for some new year’s resolutions – things you need to be doing now to prepare for 2020 and the years to follow.     

Here’s a few things we think are going to be different about 2020:

  1. New “Paid Time Off” Benefit Mandates for Washington Employers Will Impact the Costs and Productivity of Your Core Employee Group.  In 2018, Washington employers were mandated to provide 6ish days of paid time off for employees dealing with health or safety issues.  For some employers this mandated benefit requirement had significant impact , not just on workforce productivity but on the direct and indirect costs they had to incur to provide and manage this benefit.

This new benefit requirement impacted the staffing industry and its customers in particular, not just adding approximately 3% to your staffing agency’s direct employer costs, but also the reliability of your temporary employees who now had the same paid time off privileges as many of your core employees.   For as much as all of us love being able to provide employees with paid time off, we all had to add new costs just for being an employer.

In 2020 the new Family and Medical Leave Act goes into play and make no mistake, there will be impact.   We anticipate that more of your core employee group will be taking advantage of these paid leave provisions, creating gaps in the resources you normally could count on to get work done.  Your use of temporary employees to fill in those gaps will likely increase – adding new costs just to retain a stable workforce.

Your New Year’s Resolution?  Get mentally prepared for more core employee absences – some planned, some not.  Make sure you have the right staffing partner in place to help you find the qualified, ready to work,  staff that we’re pretty sure you’re going to need to fill in those gaps.   Like it or not you may be forced into using some of those flexible staffing models (temps, contractors, freelancers) you’ve been reading about  but didn’t think were quite right for your team.

News flash – you may no longer have a choice!

  1. Election Year Uncertainties May Need to Stall Hiring Plans.   Don’t be surprised if some of the frenzied hiring you’ve experienced in the last few years dies down  just a bit in 2020, as the country prepares for the uncertainties of an election year and anticipates the changes in the economy that might be generated depending on the election outcome.

Don’t take it personally if your CEO suggests you “hire a temp or contractor”  instead of adding to your now very costly core staff.  Many CEO’s are going to want a clearer view of the future before they do a lot of committing to the long term.

Your New Year’s Resolution?   When your CEO says “no” to a request for staff,   get prepared to get good at finding alternative staffing solutions – using shorter term, more flexible staffing options to your competitive advantage.

The good news?  You’ve got lots of options.  Hiring managers who learn how to master the new world of “gig” – who know when and how to enlist the wide range of options you have to get work done using short term, flexible staffing solutions  – are already leading the pack and will take center stage in 2020.

And making the right decisions about who and how to hire isn’t as easy as it looks.  There have always been legal complications around ‘doing it right” and from what we’re hearing the IRS is actually heating up its its scrutiny around “who is the employer really”, finding employers who misclasssify workers subject to penalties and fines.   If you do the flexible staffing thing right, you win.  If you do it wrong, you lose.   

  1. Access to Fast, Efficient and SMART Recruiting Needs to be a Strategic Priority.  Nothing we see happening in 2020 will make it easier to find the right talent in 2020 regardless if your hire the employee directly or bring them on as a temp or contractor.   The underlying reasons for talent deficits, driven  by very changed  workforce demographics,  are not going away and will be “across the board” – impacting the amount of time and resource it will take to find low, middle and high level employees in all job categories, for all types of work arrangements.

At PACE, for example, our most difficult recruits are not the searches we do to find the highly experienced, high talent employees, which is a segment of the market actually being fueled by already employed candidates anxious to take advantage of the new economy to take a step up.  No, our biggest recruiting challenges happen at the lower end of the workforce where finding the right set of soft skills important to that segment of the workforce are just pain hard to find.   Our recruiting team who finds Director level talent can put good candidates in front of our clients after 2+ weeks of focused sourcing and vetting.   Our recruiting team who is missioned to find and vet agent candidates for  our call center clients may have to spend 3-4 weeks sifting through hundreds of resumes just to find the 4-5 candidates who can do an entry level agent role well.

Recruiting challenges are directly impacting business.  With unemployment rates in the greater Puget Sound hovering around 3%, many employers have already had to slow down their growth plans because they can’t figure out how to find the employees they need.   That issue will get worse not better in 2020.   Employers are finding they must prioritize recruiting – in some cases just to keep up with an inevitably higher turnover rate.

Your New Year’s Resolution?   Make sure you have the right recruiting solutions in place , ready to compete in a very changed candidate marketplace.  If you’re doing recruiting internally, make sure you’ve resourced your team to be successful with the time, expertise and technologies it takes to do even the most basic recruiting well. If you decide to tap into the expertise and resources of  third party recruiters, make sure you select a recruiting partner able and willing to invest their recruiting resources to your success.

Your recruiting partners, internal or external, need to be on top of their game.  Don’t fool around with “just okay”.

  1. Your Hiring/Candidate Vetting Processes May Need a Second Look.   If they’re being honest, most recruiters will tell you that there are still a lot of candidates in the local job market.  In fact, the recruiting industry has never had more ways to source potential workers just by entering a few key words into a robust data base.

What is difficult is finding workers who have the skills employers need to make a difference in a very competitive business environment.   The gap between the skills employers want/ need and what is available in the marketplace is widening….and it often takes a full battery of vetting procedures just to make sure that who you decide to put to work on Monday has the qualities you thought they had when you interviewed them on Friday.

Today’s resumes, often professionally prepared to highlight what’s great about each candidate, often tell you nothing about the soft skills so important to hiring success.  Interviews have always been flawed ways of selecting the right candidates and the frequency of hires that turn out to be hiring mistakes, continue to hover in the 50% range.

Your New Year’s Resolution – Use all the help you can get to vet candidates thoroughly before you hire.  Yes, you have to hire quickly or you’ll lose the race for talent,  but don’t let the need to move quickly get in the way of getting the full story on the employees you hire.

At PACE our recruiting team has expanded the number and type of assessment tools we use to evaluate candidates substantially over the last few years – and are now partnering with a variety of automated information gathering and assessment services to assist our clients with their hiring decisions and avoid hiring mistakes.   The new marketplace, where any candidate can apply for any job just by hitting “submit”, demands new ways to vet candidates to be “the right fit.”

  1. Your Solution to 2020 Staffing Challenges May Require a Renewed Focus on Retention. And  if you’re late to that game, you’ll need to move quickly.   If you’ve been dragging your feet on occasional work from home “privileges” now would be a good time to take a closer look at some of the pluses and minuses of that model for your team.   One of the primary reasons we hear from employees who want to change jobs is “commute time” and the desire to have more time at home, with family.  So if you have employees who are traveling a distance to get to work – go on the offensive and offer them the opportunity to work from home at least one or two days a month.

And if you’ve been wondering how you could rearrange your office to invite more opportunities for employees to interact with each other informally, not just in structured meetings,  now would be a good time to kick start those projects.   One of the things we know about successful “cultures” is that they are all about the quality of the conversations and relationships that happen between and around people.  Employers need to be doing things to promote the kind of conversations that matter.

Your New Year’s Resolution?  Making the development of their “culture” – how you want to be as a place to work, how you want to to do work together with your employees – a very purposeful activity.  Stay current on what your competition and the marketplace at large is doing to attract and retain employees.  Stay current on how best to keep your employees engaged in the important things you’re trying to accomplish.

Long and short, make sure you’re in the retention game, and don’t wait for turnover to become your business issue, to make the changes you need to win.

  1. Diversity and Inclusion Are a Business Must.  2020 marks the beginning of an era of significant change in workforce demographics,  creating opportunities for companies to use their ability to attract and harness all forms of diversity as a competitive advantage.

Millennial employees now 24-37 years old, are now over 50% of the worker population and are working side by side the boomers who have been willing to hang around to share the wisdom they’ve acquired from time at the wheel.  The information exchanges between these two generations is key to executing transitions.

Gen Z’s, employees 24 years or younger,  are starting to show us what it means to be  “technology savvy, ” and are contributing break thru productivity gains when put in a place to contribute.   Women are finding their way into boardrooms along with people of all colors, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, changing the cultural norms of many organizations.

The workforce of today is a mosaic of “difference”  – not just in color, gender, or affiliations but also in the ideas that these differences elicit.    The ability to get the best out of this diversity, to tap into the ideas and perspectives of a wider range of  employees who are truely engaged with your business, has clearly become a leadership must for all companies -large and small.

Your New Year’s Resolution?  Stop complaining about all those differences in people and ideas that now surround you.  Stay curious.  Stay open to change.  Keep learning.



PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at

How useful was this blog post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We’d Love Your Comments on this Blog…

In today’s market, its never too early to get started on your next staffing challenge…..

Connect Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post Next Post