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Utilizing Alternative Data to Identify Workforce Trends

Susanne Morris

Susanne Morris

July 29, 2021

What are workforce trends? 

Workforce trends refer to the measurement of changes that occur within a particular workplace environment over a particular period of time. As changes in industries naturally occur, companies are able to discover new workforce trends, track existing workforce behaviors, and even leverage artificial intelligence-based workforce analytics tools to help predict workforce changes. 

For instance, businesses and investors are noticing shifts in workforce trends involving health, culture, and engagement as a result of the global impacts of COVID-19. Specifically, one workforce trend identified in a 2020 human capital trends study by Deloitte stated that 80% of professionals had identified employee well-being as a critical ingredient to an organization’s success. 

Further, alternative data helps fuel such AI-based HR analytics tools that help companies better understand how employees' needs and the overall workforce are changing. This article will explore workforce data and its sources, how businesses and investors leverage workforce trends, and some workforce trends to look out for in 2021 and beyond. 

The importance of analyzing trends in the workforce

Firstly, before jumping into the current workforce trends, it is important to understand the impact of the workforce lifecycle, how current workforce trends are discovered, and the actionable steps needed to fulfill the wants and needs of employees. 

How businesses leverage these trends 

Businesses are able to leverage workforce trends in a variety of ways. Firstly, analyzing workforce trends with HR analytics tools and other employee-related software provides businesses with direct insights on their current employees, allowing them to focus on problem areas or redirect resources to particular teams. 

How investors leverage these trends

While leveraging workforce trends is a rather niche use case for investors, investment firms are able to enhance their overall investment intelligence by analyzing the movement and changes of the workforce. Workforce trends can be early indicators of promising start-ups, provide market insights surrounding business growth or decline, and even help generate business opportunities. 

How to identify workforce trends with alternative data

Companies that specialize in human capital development, tracking, and optimization, such as HR tech companies, build AI-based tools for companies interested in data-driven HR strategies. Ultimately, companies are able to enhance their knowledge of the workforce by utilizing AI-based tools fueled by alternative data. Let’s take a closer look at the data sources used to identify workforce trends. 

Data sources used to analyze workforce trends

Job postings data

Job postings data also referred to as hiring data, helps companies analyze workforce trends by providing insights surrounding job postings information such as title, company, salary, and location. Additionally, job postings data such as employer information and interview information can be leveraged by investors, recruiters, and even lead generation tools. 

Company employee review data 

Company employee review data provides information surrounding a particular company’s reviews by current and former employees. Employee review data provides both investors and businesses with information surrounding the pros and cons of a particular company and other details rating a company’s culture, benefits, pay, and more. 

Public resume data

Public resume data is publicly available data collected from business-related job sites surrounding individuals’ professional work experiences. While resume data has a variety of use cases, information such as an individual’s work history, skills, connections, and interests enhance recruiters’ and HR tech companies’ knowledge of the current workforce, prospective employees and can even be helpful in discovering new talent. 

Firmographic data 

Firmographic data, also known as company data, is data that pertains to company operations, organizational structures, funding, revenue, and social media. This information is useful for uncovering workforce trends because it provides companies with information about their competitors, industry expansion, movement, and company growth. All of these can be analyzed by AI-based workforce analytics tools to help companies get a better understanding of hiring trends by competitors, track key players within the industry, and even predict workforce needs. 

Workforce analytics

Workforce analytics is the practice of utilizing data-driven insights about employees and the larger workforce to enhance human resource management processes. It is important to note that workforce analytics differs from HR analytics, as workforce analytics is a subset of analysis processes and strategies within HR analytics. 

Companies are able to employ insights gained from workforce analytics to their current HR strategies and systems in order to improve larger business goals within a company. More specifically, organizations are able to turn workforce-related data into actionable insights that can be applied to decisions surrounding current employees, operational practices, recruiting, performance management, and more.

Workforce trends for 2021 and beyond

Increased data-driven hiring decisions

With an increase in our global remote workforce, nearly a 3x to 4x increase from 2019 to 2021, according to Morgan Stanely, companies are looking for new ways to improve the near-virtual hiring process as well as virtual or hybrid work models. AI-based recruitment automation tools and improved work-related communication technologies have provided businesses with the resources to meet the new demands of a more remote workforce, such as meeting the current workforce needs for a more flexible work schedule. 

Implementation of workforce software and applications for employees

Workforce software and self-service tools will see a rise in companies around the world looking to empower employees with HR-related information. Newer self-service software and applications revolve around empowering employees by providing them with secure and direct access to their pay stubs, benefits information, schedules, personal documents, and tax forms. 

Additionally, companies are investing in recognition platforms that aim to recognize work achievements and motivate employees, as companies that provide frequent feedback demonstrate a 41% increase in employee retention, according to Human Resources Today. For example, as remote work and hybrid work models have recently increased due to the impacts of COVID-19, employees are unable to receive in-office recognition. A study from SHRM determined that shifts in remote/hybrid work models are showing steady work productivity results. Ultimately, providing employees with virtual recognition through workforce applications that focus on employee empowerment and engagement has helped employees stay on track while also feeling valued and empowered. 

An emphasis on tracking employee engagement

In addition to other COVID-related workplace trends, employers are realizing that engaging with current employees is now more important than ever. In a fully remote or hybrid work setting that many companies are adapting, businesses recognize the impact regular engagement and check-ins have on employee retention, mental health, and overall workplace satisfaction. In 2021, and the years to follow, companies will see an increase in resources dedicated to employee engagement software tools that provide workers with access to portals for employee feedback, professional goal setting, and team building. 

Increased monitoring of employee health and wellness 

According to Businesswire, 75% of employees have seen an increase in mental health struggles as a result of COVID-19. Likewise, many companies have identified that work-related mental-health services and support tools directly impact work performance, employee retention, productivity, and overall company satisfaction. Consequently, companies are implementing virtual mental health tools and services for employees. These amenities include providing access to meditation and other digital fitness applications, boosting physical health, and virtual counseling, flexible work schedules, and automated therapy services, improving employees’ mental health. 

Wrapping up

In all, identifying these trends provides companies with actionable insights into how to improve recruiting strategies, boost employee engagement, increase productivity, and more. In addition, shifts in the workforce will continue to ebb and flow as a result of larger societal, cultural, and political changes across all industries. Therefore, it is up to businesses to stay on top of such trends and even work to anticipate them. With the increase in AI-powered workforce tools, HR software, and alternative data usage, companies will be able to stay ahead of the curve and their competition with the proper implementation of employee-centered business models. 

Frequently asked questions

What is a workforce trend?

A workforce trend is a measurement of the changes that occur within a specific workplace environment over a given time.

What are examples of trends in the workforce?

Some examples of trends in the workplace include increased remote work due to the recent workforce shift impacted by COVID-19, as well as the implementation of hybrid work models.

What is an example of a workforce demographic trend?

According to a 2021 NCCI report, one major workforce demographic trend is that people ages 65 and older will make up 10% of the total labor force in the next ten years, a 50% increase.

What are the biggest job trends in 2021?

It is no surprise that the biggest job trends in 2021 are a direct result of the pandemic. Career Builder found that healthcare workers have seen a huge increase in job availability. Additionally, they found that the tech industry is projected to see a steady increase in job availability due to the recent increase in technological advancements of digital products and services.

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