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Alaant Hiring Index: Employees Return to the Office, Employers Plan for Workforce Growth, Even as Hiring Becomes More Difficult



Albany, NY – As COVID-19 cases decline and vaccinations rise, Capital Region professionals are increasingly returning to offices, and employers are hiring and optimistic about further job growth as the economy recovers. However, those expectations are clouded by a significant recruiting challenge, with 4 of 5 employers saying they can’t find qualified candidates, according to the Spring 2021 Alaant Hiring Index released today.

The biannual survey is conducted by Alaant Workforce Solutions, the Capital Region’s leading professional workforce services firm. It gathered responses between May 5 and 28 from 98 hiring and human resource managers, evenly split between companies with more or less than 100 employees. 

Nearly half of employers, 47%, said they have returned to regular in-office schedules; similarly, employers with a majority of employees working remotely dropped from 56% last fall to 42% in the spring. For companies that have not returned to in-office schedules, 28% expect to do so over the summer and 14% in the fall or winter, with the comfort level of employees the most important factor in their decision. And, exactly half of companies expect to remain a hybrid workforce, with a mix of office and remote employees.

A majority of employers, 51%, said hiring is up from last year; 60% expect it to continue to rise in 2021; and 70% are either very optimistic or optimistic about job growth. At the same time, 78% of employers characterize hiring as either a significant challenge or challenging – up from 55% last fall – and only 20% see it as improving, which is half as many as last fall.

“Hiring is through the roof, which is an encouraging sign that economic recovery is underway,” said Miriam Dushane, Managing Partner of Alaant Workforce Solutions. “As employers position themselves for growth, it’s essential they heed the recruiting lessons learned during the pandemic: be proactive, accelerate job searches, consider hiring remote workers, and move quickly once you find a strong candidate. Competition is as fierce as it’s ever been, and that won’t change for the foreseeable future.”

When asked to name their biggest recruiting challenge, 56% of employers cited a shortage of qualified candidates. Salary and wage demands, the overall business climate, and a skills gap were each identified by 11% of employers. Meanwhile, only 36% said they were actively considering remote workers – down from 57% last fall – with 70% primarily recruiting candidates from within the region. Positions in healthcare and IT remained the fastest growing among employers.

Launched in 2015, the Alaant Hiring Index is a valuable tool used by organizations to shape their recruiting approach and strategy. The next index will be released in Fall 2021. 

For each of the past 5 years (2017-21), Alaant has been honored by Forbes as one of America's Best Recruiting Firms. In addition, Alaant has received the Best of Staffing® Client Diamond Award and Best of Staffing® Talent Award from ClearlyRated – given to the top 2% of staffing firms in North America – for the past 5 and 3 years, respectively. Alaant was also selected by HR Tech Outlook as one of the nation’s Top 10 Employer Branding Consulting/Services Companies for 2019, and was chosen in 2020 by NYS-SHRM as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York.  

Over the past decade, Alaant has helped more than 400 companies attract, acquire, engage and retain over 4,000 elite employees, offering innovative practice areas such as Talent Acquisition Partnerships and Employer Brand Strategy. For more information, visit www.alaant.com.

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