HOLIDAY HOURS PAID
Welcome to 2022! 2021 turned out to be a year of almost constant change in the external environment. The early months were very uncertain as we were still in the middle of the COVID storm and it was not clear whether businesses were going to be allowed to operate at full capacity. By the end of 2021, most businesses were incredibly busy and Engauge experienced the strongest 4th quarter in its history. Reflecting back, a few themes stand out that impacted Engauge, our clients and our Associates.
Finding enough people and the right people for the right jobs
This was one of the most challenging aspects of 2021. As has been reported in multiple media locations throughout 2021, businesses had to deal with significantly reduced potential job applicants. To get an idea of the scale of this issue, there are an estimated 2 million people who left the workforce during the pandemic that still have not returned. While this is expected to get better in 2022, it is still a huge challenge for many of our clients. That is why Engauge has deepened our emphasis on developing proprietary Associate pools, expanding our reach into areas and networks other staffing agencies struggle to tap into. We focus on blending leading-edge technology with grassroots outreach to find the highest-quality talent to fulfill our clients’ needs.
Learning to live with the continued disruptions of COVID
This may have been the biggest change from the beginning to the end of 2021. Early in the year, most businesses were focused on containing Covid in a way that the majority of their workforces would avoid exposure. Ten-to-fourteen-day quarantines were common, even if someone was exposed but received a negative test. However, as Covid persisted and new variants emerged, it became clear that shutting down every time someone got Covid was no longer a viable business strategy. Companies had to quickly figure out how to balance protecting their workforces with continuing to support operations. Engauge has helped our clients thread this needle by supporting development of more flexible workforce options like weekend shifts and part-time workers. The ability to deal with continued workforce shortages will likely remain a key challenge for 2022.
The massive changes in labor compensation
Where do I even begin? What a crazy year! The tremendous inflationary pressure on wage levels, premiums for off-shifts and in some cases even exorbitant signing bonuses were a constant topic throughout 2021. We believe the shifting wage dynamics caught many companies off-guard and that some ended up chasing higher wage levels without stepping back to figure out a holistic, sustainable compensation approach. That being said, Engauge worked with a number of our clients to address compensation and wage pressures in a thoughtful, sustainable, and transparent way that will help ensure they can adjust proactively vs reactively moving forward. This is likely to be a huge topic again in 2022 as worker shortages continue and inflation appears likely to remain high for at least the next six months (if not longer), continuing to put pressure on wage levels and testing companies once again to adjust in an ever-shifting environment.
Learning to live with constant change
While I talked about this last year, learning to live with constant change has become the new norm and defined 2021 just like it did 2020. Engauge has worked with numerous clients who are thinking outside the box to develop faster, more flexible ways to operate and make decisions. For example, we recently met with a client who has been living with massive component shortages for so long that they decided to shift from running a press 1-2 times per year to 3-4 times per quarter, just to try to get parts out the door. Likewise, several of our clients have partnered with us to outsource lower value-added work to Engauge’s facility so they can focus on staffing and running core operations. As we shift into 2022, the companies who are agile and flexible will continue to succeed and outpace the slow-movers and traditional thinkers.
Through all of this change, Engauge had a record year in 2021 and I am so proud of our team. We continued to expand our geographic presence, added a number of terrific new clients who share our values, and continued to work meaningfully with our Associates and community partners to build and develop careers. We are passionate about helping people improve their lives and communities through meaningful employment and we hope the sincerity of that mission comes through in the following pages. We had fun putting this magazine together and we hope you have fun reading it!
Katie Malnight Meisinger
Vice President of Operations