Five Years of Staffing Trends 2008-2013

October 2013 marks the fifth anniversary of Staffing Trends. The last five years have seen the economy go from boom to bust overnight. The way companies interview and hire have changed dramatically since then. In addition, the way people search for jobs has also changed. Recruiters and job boards will always be around but social media has become increasingly important to be used as a tool to identify new opportunities.

The electrical wholesale industry has always been a large part of the overall construction market. The trickledown effect is very evident. When building/construction was slow (or virtually non-existent in some segments), there was no one approving new projects. Therefore contractors weren’t buying from the distributors, and the distributors weren’t buying through the rep agencies or purchasing direct from the manufacturers. Every company had tough calls to make; such as do they forge ahead and gamble on a positive outlook for the future or just lay off people until things got better. We know which choice most companies had to make.

With little to sell (or install), companies had few options but to make tough choices to their workforce. A lot of our industry businesses, both large and small, had to make critical employee sacrifices. For some, lay-offs were a necessary evil in looking towards the future. Other companies are still recovering from getting rid of the ‘wrong’ people, who are now working for the competition.

While we are all still in recovery mode, and none of us wants to go through this again, this has actually ‘reset’ the electrical industry. For good or bad, all of us have done more with less. But it’s not as difficult as it once was. Smartphones and tablets are growing in use every day. More apps are being created by companies that are routinely used by their customers with increased sales and profits.

One of the first Staffing Trends articles dealt with Spencer Johnson’s book ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ This was right after the housing and building crash. The message was geared to anyone worried about the direction of their employer or even their job. The takeaway then is just as current today: Companies that employ people who embrace and accept change will be ready for the future. A few lessons from the book were: 1) acknowledge that change happens, 2) anticipate change, 3) monitor change, 4) adapt quickly, 5) change your habits, 6) enjoy the change, and 7) get ready to change again!

When we look back in another five years, it will be interesting to see how much technology, telecommuting and contract employees will have changed the electrical industry. And it will be even more interesting to see how we will have changed ourselves.

“You cannot change what you are; only what you do.” – Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

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