Talent Acquisition and Retention: Making Data Driven Decisions, Part 1

Talent Acquisition and Retention: Making Data Driven Decisions, Part 1

At our 2019 TRICOM Client Conference in September, we were privileged to have national-caliber speakers share their insights into the staffing industry. One such presentation was from Kurt Murray and Michelle Prokup from Assurance. Assurance is an independent insurance brokerage firm serving the staffing industry with over 400 clients across the U.S.

In their presentation, Kurt and Michelle looked at the research when it comes to talent acquisition and retention, and how staffing companies can aid these efforts by looking at the demographics of their workforce and potential recruits to better understand what helps job seekers make the decision to come on board, as well as stay there once they’ve accepted the job.

Kurt and Michelle shared a wealth of great information – so much so that we’ve decided to share their insights in two parts: the current state of the workforce and what they’re looking for in a company and position, and how you can craft benefit plan strategies to recruit and keep top talent (stay tuned for that topic in November’s e-newsletter).

Recruiting new talent can be tough in today’s marketplace: unemployment is at a record-low 3.8%, while 59% of job seekers receive multiple offers. Studies have found that there are three main factors driving candidate decisions when it comes to selecting a new position: company culture, reputation, and overall treatment.

Specific to the staffing industry, many employers are requiring staffing firms and contractors to provide benefits and higher wages to help attract and retain talent. Wage growth has increased nearly 10 percent, and retailers such at Target have raised their minimum wage to $15 per hour, and Wal-Mart to $11 per hour.

This is in an effort to reduce turnover. The lower the turnover / long the tenure, the better the margins (and vice versa). ASA research shows that turnover decreased between 2000 and 2013 and has been increasing since. It was 420 percent in 2018, up from 386 percent in 2017. 27 percent of private sector employees switched jobs in 2018, while 25 percent of employees are looking for a new job at any given time.

What employees want when looking for a new company and position is dependent on the generation to which the employee belongs. In today’s workforce, there are four prominent and different generations: Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, and Gen-Z. Each generation has specific priorities and wants. Kurt and Michelle stressed that it’s important to understand your workforce’s demographics in order to best meet their diverse needs.

Baby Boomers:

  • Make up 27% of the workforce
  • Concerned about insufficient retirement funds and working longer
  • Most use technology but also like telephonic support
  • Cost of healthcare, prescriptions, and long-term care is high on their priority list


  • Make up 21% of the workforce
  • Personal finance is their top priority
  • Less money towards savings
  • Prefer communicating through email and telephone
  • Choice of medical, dental and supplemental benefits are key


  • Make up 44% of workforce and may increase to 50% within two years
  • Benefits are extremely important
  • Prefer online, texting, in-person, or telephone enrollment
  • Want inexpensive medical plans


  • Make up 8% of workforce and may increase to 20% within two years
  • Concerned about student loan debt
  • Prefer remote work settings and non-traditional work arrangements
  • Social media, online portals, texting, and infographics are preferred when onboarding and communicating
  • Wellness and prevention plans are key

All generations:

  • 18% of employers think a top challenge is creating an inclusive environment (and benefits) for all generations
  • 40% of U.S. households don’t have $400 for a deductible (average out of pocket expense is now $4,700)
  • #2 household expense in the U.S. is healthcare (only behind housing)
  • 89% of candidates consider health insurance a deal breaker
  • More than 70% of temporary candidates asked about benefits at job fairs
  • 80% of candidates choose additional benefits over a pay raise (Glassdoor Confidence Survey), whereas 77% of executives think pay is candidates’ top concern (Adecco USA)
  • High deductible health plans are good for savers and catastrophic coverage, but not good for workers’ ability to afford care (HR Executive, 5/2/19)

When deciding to stay or take a new job, what workers weigh most in their decision may surprise you:

Health insurance – 61%
More Pay – 54%
Paid Vacation – 53%
Flex Time – 51%
Retirement – 50%
Non-Medical Benefits (dental, vision, disability) – 48%
Paid Leave – 48%
Profit Sharing – 40%

A recent Mercer survey showed that employees place such a high value on benefits, that employees may even be willing to pay 100% of the cost of many benefits if available. Also, recently ASA Workforce Monitor found that pay is not the number one priority for staffing employees. Schedule outranked pay on the list.

When looking at the workforce demographics specific to staffing, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that independent contractors are more likely to be Caucasian or Hispanic, generally younger, and less likely to have a college degree (although about half have at least one year of college compared to 2/3 of others).

The percentage of temporary workers considered part-time vs. full-time is about the same as those in traditional employment arrangements. Also, the types of occupations for temporary workers are similar to those in traditional employment – the exception being that the percentage in professional/managerial and service occupations are reversed.

Knowing what we know about the workforce, the demographics, and their priorities, how does a staffing company develop strategies that will attract and retain the talent they’re looking for in a competitive environment? We’ll share Kurt and Michelle’s insights on that in next month’s November e-newsletter. Stay tuned!