In the business world, the holiday season isn't exactly a hiring frenzy. Many people take time off to go on vacation or spend time with family, and positions that opened up in early December are often unfilled when everyone starts streaming back into their offices in January.
That's why now is such a great time to plan ahead, not just for making individual hires but for the challenges your hiring strategy at large will need to face in order to help your company grow and thrive. Here are five trends to take into account as you begin making hires in 2016.
With the exception of a few business sectors, smart employers will need to focus more and more on hiring people with natural leadership strengths and high potential. That marks a break from previous hiring practices, where the top candidates for a position were highly specialized or experienced in a particular field.
It isn't that roles are becoming less skill-specific, of course. If anything, it's the reverse. But since the needs for many positions change so rapidly thanks to technology and other factors, specialization only goes so far for so long anymore.
There's no better teacher than on-the-job learning, which in many cases is becoming more important than degrees or certifications. Rather than filling a team with specialists to perform certain tasks, look for candidates who are adaptable, eager to learn and contribute, and find ways to go above and beyond in working with their team members.
Those are leadership skills through and through. And while not everyone in an organization can or should be a leader, it takes a mindset inclined toward leadership to repeatedly take initiative, acquire a fresh base of knowledge, and inspire others to do the same.
Baby boomers are aging, and the focus now shifting toward millennial employees. But some of that conversation misses the mark. While it's important for companies to understand how younger workers' needs, working habits, skills, and professional priorities differ from those of older generations, establishing a strong intergenerational workplace is only part of the challenge.
Understanding how it will evolve over time is another piece of the puzzle. As your team changes with each retiring employee and each new hire, it's important to make your strategy for passing the torch a top priority in 2016 and beyond. Each workforce demographic has a lot to learn from the other, and it’s vital to discuss the mechanics of that knowledge transfer now.
There's more than enough chatter out there about millennials in the workforce, but little of it is grounded in cold, hard research. We've grown used to hearing tired, sweeping generalizations about that generation, but your company needs someone who's actually done deeper research that can inform your approach.
Experts on millennials will be in high demand in the HR industry in 2016—but that doesn't necessarily mean hiring a seasoned sociologist. Who better to help steer your business's approach to millennial employees than millennial employees themselves? Involve some of your younger staff members in the process.
And when making hiring decisions this upcoming year, consider what value millennial candidates can bring to your team. Though they're younger and newer to the job market, they can often bring a fresh perspective. Sometimes potential and perspective are just as if not better than depth of experience—it depends on the role you're hiring for. The right person, who's a combination of teachable, thoughtful, and hardworking, can be an incredible asset.
In an age where instant information and communication are ubiquitous, thoughtful and relational business interactions matter. The new competitive edge for virtually all businesses will be on relationships—with consumers, employees, and clients alike—not on price or product (though those of course still matter).
A company culture of attentiveness and helpfulness is something that can't be automated or outsourced. That places a greater premium on the human element, and in the near future, employees' interpersonal (or "soft") skills will become ever more valuable.
Likewise, back-office services that are comparatively impersonal, like bookkeeping or administrative tasks, will be outsourced more and more. That frees up your staff to focus on the outward-facing interactions and relationship-building that keeps your company out there in front of consumers and potential partners. To help you achieve this, look for candidates who are naturally collaborative and service-oriented. Your company culture will thank you.
I’m no prophet, but when I stop to look back on the hiring practices of this past year, it’s relatively easy to predict what's coming. Hiring for potential and culture is becoming more important than hiring for experience and skill set. Keep ahead of the forces driving those trends and your company will be poised for a great 2016.
William Vanderbloemen is the coauthor of Next: Pastoral Succession That Works and president and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, a boutique executive search firm for churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations.