At least more jobs than workers willing to take the jobs that are available. In fact, there are 3.5 million fewer people in the workforce now relative to February 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are several reasons for this. The switch to remote work enabled many people to relocate to less populated areas, resulting in fewer workers where many of the jobs are now. Many have also decided to go back to school or train for a new career.
A great number of hourly employees, especially restaurant workers and people employed in small businesses that were forced to shut down due to government mandates or travel restrictions, have found jobs in other sectors. Some even quit the workforce entirely to become stay-at-home parents, or care for sick or elderly relatives. Many just stayed home to take advantage of extended government unemployment compensation checks.
Also, some people don’t feel safe going back to work, at least not enough that the wages they will receive will offset the risk. They may also be waiting to go back to their old jobs even though the pandemic made businesses rethink their business plans and eliminate many jobs.
But now that businesses want to return to normal levels of operation, how can they attract employees and overcome this labor shortage?
Here are six things employers can do to make it easier to find new employees:
- Increase Pay to be More Competitive
The simplest solution is the obvious one. Increase wages. Look at what other businesses in your area or sector are paying and get competitive. Currently, restaurants are confronting this dilemma a lot.
Enhanced federal unemployment benefits have made the problem especially acute. But this is also a wake-up call for employers to pay employees a living wage. Some states have a minimum wage of $7.25, which is hard for most people to live on.
On the other hand, it’s difficult to raise wages when profits are tight in the first place. Some solutions to consider include:
- Cutting costs — whether it’s supplies, services, or advertising,
- Raising prices, adjusting operating hours (if you’re struggling to find workers you may need to do this anyway),
- Streamlining services,
- Finding new revenue streams.
If the pandemic hasn’t already forced you into it, maybe it’s time to rethink some aspects of your business.
- Expand your benefits package.
Wages are important but so are benefits. According to a recent study by Willis Tower, 78 percent of employees say they are more likely to stay with an employer because of their benefits program.
Paid time off, wellness programs, Employee Assistance Programs and a 401(k) are important benefits, but the benefit valued most by employees is health insurance.
- Offer a Safe Workplace.
Many employers now require employees to be vaccinated. This is part of making safety a primary factor in the work environment and should help attract the kinds of employees you want.
- If Possible, Offer a Career, Not Just a Job.
Not every job can lead to a career but offering growth opportunities can make employment much more appealing. As someone on the blog “When I Work” posted recently, “There is always something you can do to show your employees that you don’t think of them as cogs in the wheel. Even if it’s as simple as letting them rotate through tasks and duties so they get a feel for different types of work, it helps break up the monotony of what otherwise might seem like a ‘dead end’ job.”
- Offer Flexible Work Hours.
During the pandemic, people focused more on work-life balance. For instance, many people were able to work from home. Stay tuned into these concerns and remain flexible where possible with work environments and hours.
- Make it Easier to Get the Job.
Look at your application process and make it as uncomplicated as possible, helping candidates clearly understand the job’s duties and pay. Consider dropping college degree requirements or create internship or apprenticeship programs to attract a wider pool of employees.
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