Job Creation and Hiring Continues to Increase Into the Fall of 2021

As we continue to navigate how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economy, working status, and personal lives, members of our modern society are seeing different options for how to function in the world. With more people working and attending classes either partially or fully remote, hiring and retention in the workplace are looking more and more different. 

In the early phases of the pandemic, we saw unemployment rise to staggering levels that have essentially not been witnessed by the majority of our society ever before. However, as we push on and adapt to this ever-changing social and professional environment, the development of new jobs and hiring numbers are soaring. In the last few months, over a million jobs have been added — with 850,000 of those being developed by America’s employers in June alone, and these numbers are still growing.

Springing Back From Peak Unemployment

The job market itself is looking quite different than it has before as well. The market is saturated with well-qualified individuals who are looking for work either in their fields or taking this time to transition into new fields. In the early phases of the pandemic, there were not nearly enough open positions to fill with these professionals. As employers are creating new job openings each month in 2021, folks are beginning to find their place in the professional world again.

Why Are More Jobs Becoming Available?

Although the Delta variant has forced many communities, especially those that are highly traveled and have strong tourism industries, to reevaluate their restrictions, many places across the country are starting to see a powerful rebound back from the pandemic’s economic recession. Capacity restrictions in many indoor settings have been restored to nearly pre-pandemic levels, allowing for more hiring within restaurants, retail, sporting events, and concerts. With restrictions in many places loosening, travel by airplane each day is sitting at around 80% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels. 

Many companies found the silver lining in the pandemic and took the opportunity with lower business to renovate and remodel. This has been a benefit to construction workers and other infrastructure assessment companies, and with newly refurbished spaces, productivity has increased alongside the ability to bring on more individuals to work for the company. This is a huge benefit to many of the companies that were initially threatened by restrictions associated with the pandemic. 

The Strength of Our Recovery

Our transition into a stronger economy is clear in the recovery from our recent pandemic-associated recession. As President Joe Biden is quoted, “The strength of our recovery is helping us flip the script… instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, employers are competing with each other to attract workers.” In reality, this is how a capitalist corporate structure should indeed operate, and in its ideal operation, employers should have the need and ability to hire up the entire pool of those applying to work. This is a sign of a strong industrial system and booming economy. Numbers for this fall are also showing favor for hourly rates to rise faster than the pre-pandemic annual pace. New hires are gaining full-time work, and the number of those who have to settle for part-time work has reduced as well. 

Overall, the current administration and operation of corporations seem to be bringing the economy to a satisfactory and safe level from the pandemic and associated recession. We have positive growth in the future as we continue to adapt to working and living in a society recovering from and still in many ways dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

By |2021-10-01T10:13:54-04:00October 1st, 2021|News, Research|0 Comments

COVID-19’s Impact on the Hiring Industry


To say that the Coronavirus pandemic has rocked global industry would be a massive understatement. Companies around the world are scrambling to develop new remote-based workflows to limit the potential for exposure to the virus, and many service-based businesses have had to close down entirely. The hiring industry has also felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many companies are overhauling their hiring practices in light of this new reality. 

Hiring in China has plummeted to about -45% year over year following the outbreak. In Italy, Europe’s hardest hit country to date, hiring is well below zero, reaching a low of -40% during the lockdown. The US will likely see a similar trend in the near future, at least temporarily, but many companies have already been adapting their practices to take the hiring process into the digital realm without becoming impersonal. 

New Online Assessment Practices

If you are reading this post you are surely doing your application process online (you are, right?). Ideally you are using a process that automatically ranks candidates based on their probability of success so you don’t have to screen 100s or thousands of resumes/applications. Regardless, at a minimum people are able to apply online.

For many roles, after people have applied you are likely to want custom problem solving assessments that match the job. For companies that wisely rely on testing to identify and hire top candidates there has been a dramatic shift away from large group test sessions with “bubble sheet” test forms to completely online, but still proctored, testing.

The proctoring is done via some amazing technologies that allow the user to be monitored to ensure they are not cheating while they take the exam. These include screen monitoring, facial tracking, audio flags and statistical techniques to mitigate cheating. Bottom line, testers who used to have to test in a group setting, at a specific time and place, using a clunky technology (scantron scoring) are now able to test at their leisure in a secure setting using state-of-the-art technology.

This shift not only limits social exposure and slows the spread of COVID-19, but it also ensures a higher level of test security, better scheduling options, faster turnaround of test results, less testing time and more creative and job-related test content. While the online testing protocol has been standard procedure for many businesses, in light of current events, almost 100% of our clients are now choosing to streamline their pre-employment assessment processes with secure online assessments.

Videoconferencing is the New Norm 

While many companies are slow to hire new employees during such a tumultuous time, others are going to need to continue their recruitment practices under different terms. Additionally, once the worst phase of this disease has passed, there will be an incredible influx of available talent the likes of which hiring managers haven’t seen in a lifetime. As people who have lost their jobs or parted ways with companies that have permanently shuttered look for new work, the hiring industry will need to adapt quickly and adeptly to the forthcoming surge of employment candidates.

One of these adaptations will be video conferencing technology which is quickly becoming the go-to method for companies to interview job applicants, conduct Q&A sessions with potential recruits, and handle the onboarding process without risk of spreading COVID-19. Video conferencing tools are also useful in many cases for new hire orientation, training, telecommuting, sales, and many other aspects of modern business. To this end, we highly recommend the Zoom platform, but we also have utilized Skype, Gotomeeting, Facetime, Google Hangouts and other platforms successfully. For early adopters, we’d recommend checking out

Adapting for the Future

These new hiring practices may seem like temporary stopgaps, but they are actually improvements to the business-as-usual resume/interview approach to hiring, which is far from optimal. The decisions companies make during the current epidemic will have a profound impact on the future. By making the right call now you will help the country quickly get our talented workforce back in the game. 


By |2020-06-04T19:16:58-04:00March 25th, 2020|News|0 Comments

Job Descriptions – how do they fit in the changing talent picture?

“Bill D. is retiring, finally. He kept talking about it but we never thought he’d make the decision. Such a great department manager, he will be missed! Oh…right…I guess we need to look for a replacement! Can you ask Sally in HR to give me a copy of the job description?”

This may be simplified, and yes, widget company leader should have had a succession plan in place. That’s for another blog post. However, this scene plays out in companies all over the country, and all over the world, on a daily basis. Whether it’s a retirement, unfortunate illness, poor performance, or resignation (gasp!) for another job…we all know that moment where we have to think about filling a vacancy. If it’s been held by the incumbent for any length of time, we probably haven’t updated the job description. If we have annual reviews, they may be tied to the job description, but that is not a given.

How does the job description translate to the job posting? The search criteria? If handled properly, a search will include assessing for skills, knowledge, and experience as well as personality, behaviors and aptitude. Simply listing a set of “required” and “minimum” qualifications does not ensure a well-matched applicant pool. What if there were science behind the job description? Science that helped your company not only recruit for a great fit, but measure performance and offer training gap analysis on a regular basis?

There is hard evidence based on long-standing research on which facets of personality and behavior traits best fit certain types of jobs. When you customize for work environment and industry, as well as variances in each job’s responsibilities and duties, you make a big difference in being able to be more specific up front (in recruiting and onboarding) and being better able to communicate and coach more clearly all along the way.

Hmmm… coaching, communication, training – have you heard those words thrown around lately regarding “what matters to the next generations of employees”? Your employees are tired of standard issue tools and performance evaluations of times past. They want someone to see them. To really notice them as individuals. To want them for the job for who they really are, and to help them develop their strengths and overcome their challenges to make a difference in their job and their career.

Still want to photocopy the old job description, send it to HR, and then hand it to the new hire? Be prepared to keep it handy, you might have a vacancy again fairly soon!

To try a new idea, which is actually even simpler, work with a firm that has done the research and can lead you through to customized job searches and descriptions. We’d be happy to talk with you in a confidential consultation, free of charge. We enjoy seeing the relief in using a more accurate process lead to happy companies and employees!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00June 6th, 2017|Careers, News, Research|0 Comments

Sports Analytics Field Trip

By Scott Birkeland, Ph.D., Vice President of Stang Decision Systems

I recently attended the Midwest Sports Analytics Meeting in Pella, Iowa. Thanks to Russ Goodman and Central College for putting together fun and informative sessions. This conference not only gave me an excuse to hang out with my former college roommate (St. Thomas math professor Eric Rawdon), but it also allowed me to see, first-hand, some of the cutting-edge research that is taking place in the field of sports analytics.


Eric Rawdon and me at the Central College entrance (I’m on the left).

During the conference, I attended a variety of presentations. Some of the topics included measuring how teams deliver value to fans, an analysis of strike zone errors in MLB, ways to differentiate offensive explosiveness vs. offensive efficiency in college football, software that helps coaches create data-driven practice plans, and several talks that used NFL play-by-play information to analyze tactical decisions (e.g. win probability at various points in a game, fourth down decisions, field goal accuracy, etc.).

All very interesting and thought provoking topics (at least to me!).

As I reflect on the conference, one of the big takeaways I have relates to decision-making and why it is that those involved with sports teams often don’t use the information that is available for them to make optimal decisions. An example that was frequently discussed during the conference is the debate in football about “going for it on fourth down.” Historically, coaches have preferred to punt on fourth down, even though, in many situations, the data suggests that they shouldn’t.

With all the analytics that are now available it is surprising how often teams go against what the data say they should do. This is true for more than just “going for it on fourth down.” It is true for drafting strategy, negotiating player contracts, preventing injuries, and developing optimal practice plans–just to name a few.

Throughout the conference, I had several discussions with folks around why teams do not consistently use analytics to their advantage. A couple of reasons were repeatedly mentioned.

First, people who are coaching and/or managing teams often have a sports background, but not a math/statistics/analytical background. Because of this, they do not necessarily understand the methodology behind the numbers. And, given their role as a leader, they must be able to convince their team why they are taking the actions they do. If the leader of the team doesn’t understand the data or how it was generated, it becomes more difficult to inspire the team to act based on that information. Coaches tend to rely on what they know best, which often means doing what they’ve always done and not using analytics.

Second, many pointed out that because coaches’ decisions are so closely scrutinized (especially in major professional sports) that if they make a non-traditional decision, they leave themselves open for significant criticism from fans and the media–even if the decision, from a data analytics perspective, is the correct one. Therefore, it is often easier and more comforting to make decisions based the way it has always been done rather than do something different. As one person put it, “it is hard to get overly criticized for doing something that everyone has been doing for the last fifty years.”

From a coach’s perspective, I can appreciate these reasons. At the same time, I also realize that it is important to utilize any advantage that you might have, even if it is something that might stretch your comfort zone. I believe that we all need to question the way things have been done (whether you are working for a sports team, a Fortune 100 company, or a mom and pop company) to see if there is a different strategy that gives you a greater likelihood of succeeding.

At its core, that is what data analytics does. It allows end users to gain competitive insights. Oftentimes, these insights contradict conventional wisdom. In my view, this should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00December 1st, 2016|News, Research|1 Comment

Federal Court Suspends Enforcement of Overtime Rule

A federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction blocking the US Department of Labor’s (US-DOL) new overtime rule. The injunction halts enforcement of the rule until the case is decided. 

The regulation had been scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016. It would raise the salary limit under which workers automatically qualify for overtime pay to $47,476 from $23,660. In addition, the salary threshold would be tied to the 40th percentile for full-time salaried workers in the lowest income Census region (currently the south) and updated every three years.

So what does this mean for employers? The overtime rules will *not* go into effect on December 1, but employers should be aware that the regulations could still be implemented at a later date. Until a decision is reached, employers should continue to follow the existing overtime regulations.

By |2016-11-23T14:01:12-05:00November 23rd, 2016|News|0 Comments

Marathon Petroleum Named America’s Best Employer by Forbes

One of our largest clients, Marathon Petroleum, was recently ranked Best Employer in America by Forbes Magazine. The list was compiled by Forbes by asking more than 30,000 U.S. workers employed by companies with more than 5,000 staff to 1) rank from zero to 10 how likely they were to recommend their employer to someone else and 2) rank how they felt about other employers in their industry.

The list included 500 employers from 25 different industries. Marathon Petroleum, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, employs more than 45,000 people in the U.S. One of the key features to Marathon’s success was a significant turnaround of a Texas refinery that was plagued by an abysmal safety record and disgruntled union.

As Forbes details in their feature story on Marathon, the Texas refinery had a tragic past involving numerous disasters that killed and injured employees. Federal investigators cited a broken safety culture as the cause, where managers had a “check the box” mentality and were more “worried about seat belts” than outright catastrophes.

Marathon’s CEO Gary Heminger said, “We’ve taken our culture into that refinery. We’re going to operate it with the best safety and environmental skills available.” With a heavily unionized workforce, this was no easy task. However on the first day Marathon took ownership of the refinery, all of the plant’s workers were put through personal responsibility training, putting each and every employee in the mindset that they are collectively responsible for the safety of the organization. Managers were given more responsibility to make safety-related decisions without having to go to a higher level first.

“We collaborate; we do not compete,” said Connie Bradley, a refinery manager at Marathon. One of the key outcomes is that rather than profitability, the metrics for employee performance include safety and mechanical availability. “This leads you to a culture of preventative maintenance and of really looking after your assets,” said Heminger.

Lastly, ’employee grooming’ is a policy that Heminger works to maintain at Marathon. Employees aren’t pigeonholed into one position or another; rather, employees are given the opportunity to learn new skills and be put into positions where they may excel at better than their previous position. When an employee goes on vacation, “we will bring someone in from another plant to take a look at their job,” said Bradley. “The intent is to give them the opportunity to look at something different.”

Marathon Petroleum’s strategy of fostering a more effective culture of safety and responsibility was vital to the successful re-management of an catastrophe-ridden Texas refinery. It probably goes without saying that the single most important factor in making a strategy like this work is the quality of the people themselves.

Since 2005, Stang Decision Systems has been working closely with Marathon to help them hire and develop thousands of employees throughout North America, including: all operators and maintenance personnel at all refineries; all pipelines and TT&R non-salaried employees; all marine ops and maintenance employees; and various specialized roles including security, warehouse, lab techs, and sign makers.

We would like to congratulate Marathon Petroleum on being named Forbes’ Best Employer for 2015, and we look forward to being a part of their success in the coming years.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00April 25th, 2016|News, Updates|0 Comments
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