Optimism is growing that the worst of the pandemic business retrenchment is over and that job growth may be just around the corner.

The Conference Board last week said its Employment Trends Index increased in January for the ninth consecutive month.

At the same time, Chief Executive released its latest poll of chief executive officers showing their confidence in future business conditions continues to grow. It is now where it was in February last year, just before the global business shutdown. Out of a possible 10 points, the 300+ CEOs scored their optimism about business conditions in the coming months at 7.1, a 2-year high.

In addition, Chief Executive reported that “A growing number of business leaders now forecast growth in revenues and capital expenditures as well. Meanwhile, they rated their confidence in current business conditions ‘good,’ at 6.2 out of 10.”

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The Conference Board’s Employment Index and its Leading Economic Index, released late last month, are both on an upswing, if a slow and uneven one. The LEI increased by 0.3% in December after improving by a more robust 0.9% in October and 0.7% in November.

“The US LEI’s slowing pace of increase in December suggests that US economic growth continues to moderate in the first quarter of 2021,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board.”Improvements in the US LEI were very broad-based among the leading indicators, except for rising initial claims for unemployment insurance and a mixed consumer outlook on business and economic conditions.”

The improvement in the Employment Trends Index has been far steadier and quicker. The index came in at 99.27 in January, a small .72 point improvement over December but a significant improvement from last spring when the index was just over 70. Still, the index is 10% lower than it was a year ago.

The Employment Trends Index is a leading composite index for employment, meaning it is an early indicator pointing to future job growth. “Turning points in the index indicate that a turning point in employment is about to occur in the coming months,” says The Conference Board. “The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight leading indicators of employment, each of which has proven accurate in its own area.”

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One of these, the number of workers employed by the staffing industry, has been a primary driver of improvement in the index, says Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “The Employment Trends Index has been increasing in recent months, with the largest contributing component being the number of jobs in the temporary help industry.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.95 million workers employed by the staffing industry at the beginning of 2020. Following the government ordered COVID shutdown, the number dropped to 1.95 million in April. Now, the latest BLS report says the staffing industry employed 2.7 million in January.

Though Levanon cautions we should expect some uncertainty around job growth due to the risk of the emerging COVID variants, by spring he says, “We expect strong job growth to resume and continue throughout the remainder of the year.”

Photo by Corey Agopian on Unsplash


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Employee Benefits for a Supportive Workplace

Employee satisfaction doesn’t just start and end at the salary. For a company to really take care of their employees, they have to offer a strong benefit package. Working adults want to feel appreciated and safe; offering specific benefits and wellness programs prove they are valued and protected. In the past, companies have used perks such as game rooms and happy hours to boost workplace morale and culture. But in recent years, it’s become clear that those ideas aren’t what keep people happy.  

We’ve summed up a variety of employee benefits that create a supportive and inclusive workplace. It’s important to understand that people just want to feel comfortable. This will lead to a stable environment, reduced turnover rates, and a stronger acceptance within the company.  

Leave for all parents

Traditionally, only those who have given birth are offered time off as new parents. However, more and more companies are supporting paternity leave in addition to maternity. The early relationship between a newborn and any parent is crucial for development. LinkedIn says, “Offering gender-neutral parental leave, including leave for parents of newly adopted children, can help contribute to lasting bonds between parents and children in early development while also creating a positive work-life balance.” 

Flexible scheduling and work from home opportunities 

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, especially in this Green Key Unlocked installment, trusting your employees to get their work done, while adjusting to their own schedules, has become essential. Not every job requires employees to stay behind their desk from 9am to 5pm. Paid time off, floating holidays, leaving early to pick up children, and civic duties such as voting should all be considered here. In fact, many companies have seen an increase in productivity with the option to work at your own pace. It also establishes an element of respect between workers and upper management.  

Domestic partner benefits 

It’s no surprise that fewer people are waiting to get married these days, or not married at all. The demand for domestic partnership benefits is growing. Offering healthcare plans to those in cohabitation helps to promote an inclusive workplace. As a society, we should always be adjusting to the general way of life. This should also include support of the LGBTQ+ community, especially for any transgender employees who may require medical coverage for surgery and therapy in order to transition.  

Family building benefits 

LinkedIn also stresses the importance of family building benefits. “For a long time, family-building benefits were limited to fertility tests and, in a few cases, in vitro fertilization. But this family of benefits has expanded into other areas as well, including egg freezing, surrogacy, adoption, and more,” they say. Many couples and families struggle to expand, and these benefits allow them to do so in a seamless process.

Retirement plans 

Offering pension plans or 401(k)s allow employees to comfortably prepare for retirement. Indeed stresses, “Retirement benefits can help provide employees a well-organized and reliable way to save money and plan their financial futures for themselves and their families. When employees do retire, they will have a predetermined budget to live on depending on how much money they saved through their employer’s retirement plan or other retirement options they pursued.” 

Tuition reimbursement 

A huge benefit that employees seek is tuition reimbursement to continue their education. Within reason, companies may offer certain amounts of money for specific courses related to their industry. Indeed says, “Typically, companies set restrictions on course types, ensuring the courses taken relate to their role at the company, or require employees to continue working for a certain amount of time after completing their coursework or degree.” 

Remaining accountable

If you’re looking to support your employees and prove their value, consider these benefits and more. In a time when people are moving along if they’re not satisfied, remaining sensitive and competitive will recruit new talent and devote to those who stay. 

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