We live in a bizarre labor market. A war is raging a few hundred kilometres away, not only costing many lives but also pitting the global (super)powers against each other. There is a major shortage of raw materials and inflation is causing prices to rise dramatically. If we look at the situation here in the Netherlands, there is also a chronic lack of qualified personnel. This will only get worse in the coming years.
The tension on the labor market increased further in the first quarter of 2022. Whereas in the last quarter of 2021 there were 106 vacancies for every 100 unemployed, just a quarter later this increased to 133 per 100. Turnover in the temporary employment sector was 19.2 percent higher in the first quarter of 2022 than in the same quarter of 2021. Prices continued to rise throughout 2020. Price growth during this year was between 5 and 7 percent compared to a year earlier.
Lack of understanding on the employer side
The staffing market is changing at a speed that employers often can no longer keep up with. Where it is really going the wrong way, however, is the lack of understanding on the employers’ side. Verging on the arrogant, I’d say. Employers still have the traditional notion that temp agencies and temp workers should be lucky to be working for them, while the world has tilted completely 180 degrees over the last year or so.
The reality now being that it is not the client who determines whether a temp worker works for it, but that the temp worker and the agency set criteria that a client must meet in order to even have temp workers made available.
The prevailing trend now is that temp agencies ask their temp workers to assess and evaluate a client on the basis of criteria such as management style, accessibility, flexible working hours, fair pay, good facilities, contributions to electricity, water, coffee and heating, the possibility of self-rostering and equivalence with own staff.
Poor employment practices mean no temps
If you rate below at least a 7 as a client, then temp employees will not even consider working for that client and the temp agency will not – or will not be able – to provide people.
Is this something for the distant future? Absolutely not! Due to the increased scarcity in the labor market, the use of social media and the increased empowerment of temp workers, both temp agencies and clients must go along with this change.
In addition, temp agencies must also receive a real and fair rate to meet the far-reaching requirements of the government and the market. Clients who want a front row seat for a penny will have to join the back row from now on.
The power to choose where to work shifts from the client to the temp worker and the temp agency. Only clients who show good employership and pay fair rates will be able to have access to high-quality temp workers.
The new normal is already here, so we better get used to it! The era of predictable unpredictability is not going away anytime soon.