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There’s a ‘mismatch’ in demand for workers and supply: Kelly Services CEO

Peter Quigley, Kelly Services CEO, discusses the state of the labor market and a new report that says business leaders feel unprepared to manage today's changing workplace.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Let's bring in Peter Quigley. He is CEO of Kelly Services. And Peter, let me just get your thoughts on the private payroll numbers that came out today. Obviously, we're going to get the big number on Friday for non-farm payrolls but this all comes in the context of the challenges we have heard over and over from businesses who are saying we're unable to fill the positions that we have open, and we're having to up the incentive to try and attract workers.

PETER QUIGLEY: Yeah, good morning. And great to be with you. I think the number is a little disappointing but frankly, probably not too surprising, given that the July report came in before the Delta variant became so prevalent. So I think it's not surprising that we might see a deceleration on Friday. But the fact is, as you said, our customers, and I think across industries there continues to be a mismatch in the demand for workers and the supply of workers.

ZACK GUZMAN: And I mean, we talk about a mismatch a lot, again, as Emily kind of highlighted there in the services space, leisure and hospitality showing the bounce back. But the concern is as Delta continues to spread you might see some softness even in that hiring. And in the mismatch I mean, when you look at it at Kelly, I mean, what are you seeing in terms of maybe there might be some jobs out there but just not the jobs that the workers are matched for?

PETER QUIGLEY: Yeah, clearly the reason workers aren't going to work, we referred to the health care challenges, child care, the enhanced unemployment benefits. But I think there is something underlying the fact that there are a lot of jobs but not necessarily a lot of desirable jobs. And while employers are pounding the table wanting workers, workers are frankly taking their time trying to figure out what jobs are the right fit for them.

Job priorities have changed over the last 18 months. And wages, while they're important, the most successful companies according to our recently released Workforce Agility Report, are focused as much on the employee experience as they are on the customer experience. So they're paying attention to all things related to the workforce, the workplace, the work time, work style.

And frankly, employees are looking for something different. They're looking for flexible time. They're looking for remote opportunities. They're looking for enhanced stability in their job. They're looking for well-being programs. They're looking for upskilling and career development opportunities. And of course, being in a safe environment and being in a welcoming environment. So diversity, equity, inclusion is also very important to today's workers.

AKIKO FUJITA: What does that mean from a business standpoint? For those companies who are trying to fill these jobs, you're saying they're likely unable to do it because of wages, that's not the big concern for workers. I mean, what more do they need to offer up, especially in leisure and hospitality, where we have heard so many businesses who are saying, we don't see these workers returning to the sector at all?

PETER QUIGLEY: Yeah, I think employers need to focus on what their employee value proposition is. So what are they offering in addition to-- frankly, wages and benefits are in today's environment table stakes. And so what are employers offering to employees that will entice them to either come off the sidelines or take a job in their particular sector? The reality is the mismatch between the number of job openings and the number of unemployed sort of belies the fact that the different education, training, and skills that you need in one sector may not be entirely compatible to another sector. So that's also contributing potentially to what we see in the number of job openings versus the availability of talent.

ZACK GUZMAN: And lastly, I mean, when we're looking at kind of the problems you're talking about, on the child care front. You know, a lot of the reason why we saw some of the benefits start to roll off here may have been because expectations were that by the time we got to the fall in 2021, you wouldn't have to have those in place because everything would have been good, people going back to school, kids going back to school. No worries about COVID. That doesn't seem to be reality right now. So I mean, when you look in the months ahead is there maybe a potential in your eyes to see maybe a larger need for some of these things that are rolling off in terms of support for American workers who aren't taking jobs to be putting back in place or are workers just going to need to take the jobs that might not be perfect?

PETER QUIGLEY: Well, you mentioned child care. And I think the number one priority for everybody should be opening schools. Because if kids don't go to school, workers don't go to work. And that's just the reality. And the fact is that 4 in 10 workers during the pandemic had either themselves or their other adult in their household look for new work or left the workforce. And we've got to get the schools open and that should be a priority because that will alleviate some of the downward pressure on the talent supply.

And getting kids into school is a multi-faceted challenge. We're the largest provider of educational talent in the country. And we're very alarmed by the shortage that we're seeing of substitute teachers, paraeducators, and tutors. We did a study with EdWeek that we released, and three out of four school district leaders said that they found it very difficult to find qualified talent to help them with tutoring to fill the gap year that was caused by last year's remote and in-home learning.