It’s the time of year when business leaders in various sectors make predictions for 2024 staffing trends so they can better navigate the New Year. Looking in the rearview mirror, we have to remember – businesses have experienced as much disruption in the past 5 years as the previous 25. As a result, a recent article refers to the phenomenon as creation of the “zero consumer.” 

What is a zero consumer? 

Contrary to how it sounds, the term “zero consumer” doesn’t refer to people who don’t buy anything. Instead, it describes buyers whose behavior (according to McKinsey & Company) includes: 

  • Zero patience with long delivery times 
  • Zero brand loyalty 
  • Concerns for net zero (sustainability) 

These zero consumers are the same people making up today’s labor pool; understanding their priorities will help employers develop strategies to improve hiring and retention in coming months. These attributes don’t just apply to outliers; they describe the values and buying habits of today’s average consumer. Here’s how that concept could affect 2024 staffing trends and the employment landscape in general: 

2024 Staffing Trends: The Zero Consumer 

The zero-consumer concept applied to staffing 

When considering 2024 staffing trends, we know the labor market will still be challenging. Employers will have to work hard to attract good candidates, much like retailers must work hard to attract customers. Savvy employers will think of their candidates more like consumers and address their priorities in the hiring process. 

A bonus to that approach? Keeping those applicants as customers. A 2023 talent study found that 56% of respondents would be less likely to patronize a brand if they had a bad experience applying for a job with that company. Keeping applicants happy – even those who aren’t hired – is good for the bottom line. 

Increased pay transparency 

Just as consumers have zero patience for delay, applicants have zero patience for hiring processes they feel undervalue their time and worth. Pay transparency – already present in half of postings on Indeed – will be a growing trend, as more governmental bodies mandate it and more job seekers demand it. Applicants expect pay transparency because they don’t want to spend time applying for a position that doesn’t meet their compensation needs. 

Faster hiring and onboarding 

To speed up hiring, employers increasingly will be using technology in their applications and onboarding processes. Examples from an iCims study show how two major chains are embracing that trend.  

The Cheesecake Factory pared down their mobile application from nine pages to two, and completion rates went from 39% to 71%. Wendy’s launched a chatbot named “Patty” that reduced the time to apply and schedule an interview to two minutes. As a result, the median time from application to hiring shrank to five days for 80% of applicants and hiring increased by 8% in three months. 

Virtual onboarding continues to rise due to job seekers valuing the flexibility it provides. Online training modules, which can be completed anywhere, anytime, give new hires the opportunity to learn at their own pace and address the growing “zero patience for delay” mindset. They also streamline a company’s HR workload. 

The use of AI by both talent managers and applicants is expected to increase. HR managers can use AI for time-consuming assessments and scheduling, as well as for drafting job descriptions. Applicants are increasingly using AI to create resumes that better match job postings and highlight their skills. AI and automation will be a focal point in 2024 staffing trends. 

Hiring for growth 

In 2024, the applicant pool is likely to be somewhat larger, and that will bring with it increased focus on hiring for long-term growth. Employers will be looking for candidates who are a good fit, not just a warm body.  

More employers will be using temp-to-hire arrangements in which the temporary work period is a sort of on-the-job interview. Increasingly, employers are looking for skill sets, not necessarily education. They prioritize candidates with multiple skills, such as language proficiency and AI experience, so they can fill multiple roles, making the company’s payroll dollars go further. 

More gig workers 

Just as zero consumers do not want to tie themselves to brands, today’s workers – especially Gen Z and Millennials – are increasingly willing to accept temporary and temp-to-hire positions. Some see it as an opportunity to test-drive an employer before making the commitment to permanent employment. Others embrace gig work to gain flexibility in their work scheduling.  

Continuing scrutiny of worker classification 

The coming year is likely to bring more attention to the issue of worker classification. Online platforms that provide workers as 1099 independent contractors are undergoing greater scrutiny by governmental agencies. These platforms can offer workers at a (seemingly) lower cost than traditional staffing companies because they don’t pay for workers compensation insurance or withhold payroll taxes.  

This practice leaves clients exposed to potential liability for back wages, fines, and insurance claims. Once a concern primarily of the hospitality and warehouse industries, this issue is also being hotly debated in healthcare regarding the classification of temporary nursing staff. 

Here are our key takeaways for 2024 staffing trends: 

  • The zero consumer will impact every facet of the employment landscape.  
  • Recruiting and hiring will change: Increased pay transparency in advertisements, faster onboarding, and automation/AI to streamline processes. 
  • Employers will better forecast hiring for the year and prioritize long-term growth rather than ad hoc hiring.  
  • More gig workers will join the economy with the continued goal of finding flexible opportunities.  
  • Correct worker classification will be top of mind for employers who want to avoid fines and lawsuits by government agencies.  

About LGC
Since 2003 LGC has been building connections between businesses with staffing needs and job seekers looking for new opportunities. Our range of solutions include temporary and permanent placements (and everything in between) in a variety of industries. With offices located nationwide, we can tap into a dynamic pool of talented professionals. We have a passion for creating partnerships that last and work hard every day to ensure both clients and candidates reach their employment goals. 

Because we’ve been in staffing for 20 years, we have our finger on the pulse of relevant trends that impact our industry. We hope you find these 2024 staffing trends useful and don’t hesitate to reach out to LGC if you have questions or need assistance with staffing in the new year.