To hire or not to hire. That’s the big question for cash-strapped small businesses.
Recent data sends out two very differing messages about the staffing needs of the future — one short term, the other more long term. So businesses may have mixed feelings about their plans for that next hire.
February 2017 Staffing Trends
Short Term Hiring Expected to be Competitive
A recent report (PDF) reveals the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased less than expected for the week ended February 11.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows claims for unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 239,000.
What’s worth noting is claims have been below 300,000 for 102 consecutive weeks. That’s the longest stretch since 1970 and indicates a strong labor market where short term hiring will be competitive.
Could Automation Replace Workers?
On the other hand, a White House report (PDF) postulates 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence technologies over the next decade.
What’s more, the study estimates 2.2 to 3.1 million existing part- and full-time jobs could be threatened or substantially altered by automated technology.
What Does It Mean for Your Business
Both studies have significant implications for small businesses.
The report from the Department of Labor suggests the economy is getting stronger but also that fewer are looking for employment. While that could mean more disposable income to spend on your products and services, it also could make it harder to hire the people you need to provide those products and services.
As for the White House report, increasing automation may save your business money in the long run as you need a smaller staff to run your business. But depending on your business, it could also decrease the need for what your business produces or a service you provide.
Imagine the impact, for example, on a tax preparation service if your customers begin relying on automation to prepare and file their returns.
In order to determine how automation may impact your business, consider this list of small business functions you can automate.
Are there any tasks on this list you or your staff still do manually? Are there any services you provide for other businesses that could easily be replaced?
By contrast, these jobs cannot be easily automated in the near future.
These are jobs that involve a certain degree of sensitivity and problem solving skills that machines do not possess. It may make sense to plan to continue hiring in these areas for the foreseeable future.
And businesses that provide such services for other companies may wish to focus increasingly in these areas to ensure profitably for the future.
Staffing Photo via Shutterstock