If you walk down the street of any city, you are bound to see a help wanted sign or two on your evening stroll. Managing a worker shortage is no easy task. Yet, your company must find ways to make up for this employee shortfall to maintain productivity and keep your workers happy.
These employee shortages are hitting every sector. However, those hit the hardest are airlines, restaurants, and hotels. With the government offering higher than usual unemployment benefits to keep workers home and general worker dissatisfaction with current wages, many companies are struggling to fill positions.
There are many reasons why worker shortages happen, but they are all a headache for HR managers. This post will outline some great suggestions to solve worker shortage problems. It will also provide some general advice that can be applied to any worker shortage problem – not just pandemic-related ones.
Why Is There A Worker Shortage?
We are dealing with worker shortages for several reasons. Many people want to blame recent unemployment benefits. Yet, economists agree that the increase in the cost of living has made it difficult for many workers to afford to take the jobs they once did pre-COVID. Not to mention the fact that the federal minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009, and many companies are still paying $7.25 an hour.
Also, there is an increase in side hustling. Employees may become business owners through freelancing online or become independent contractors for companies like Lyft or Doordash, which are becoming widely used again. These jobs allow workers to set their own schedules and provide autonomy that many jobs don’t.
Last, we are beginning to see a huge shift that some experts are calling The Great Resignation. Millions of employees who stayed put during the pandemic are feeling a bit more confident about leaving their current jobs in search of great benefits or a new challenge. Backfilling positions is doubly hard when there is a worker shortage.
These elements create a perfect storm for employers who are struggling to fill their open positions.
7 Tips For Dealing With A Worker Shortage
Now that you know a bit more about what’s happening right now, how do you deal with the lack of skilled (or even unskilled) workers for your organization? Keep reading for seven tips to help you deal with this worker shortage. These strategies can be applied to any employee shortage your organization might be dealing with.
1. Revisit Job Applications And Descriptions
How easy is it for applicants to find your company’s job openings? Are you posting clear and concise job descriptions of the positions currently open in your organization? Are you sharing salary details?
The hunt can be difficult for applicants. Candidates need to know that going through the interview process with you will be worth their time. You can ease this stress for candidates by creating robust job descriptions with all the details they need to know about your organization.
Along with revisiting your job description process, consider former applicants who once tried to get a job at your organization. Many companies say they keep applications on file for a few months, and now is the perfect time to revisit those applicants. Shoot over a quick email and connect with those candidates to see if they are still interested.
2. Take A Look At Your Local Employer Brand
Does your company have a decent reputation? Your company’s employer brand is one of the most important things about your business. Do you know how well-rated your company is on sites like Glassdoor?
It is essential to address what people are saying about the culture and work environment, pay scales, and management style at your company.
Make improvements if there is any room for improvement or changes to be made to boost interest in working with your organization.
Small businesses like hotels and restaurants can’t afford to have a bad reputation in the community. If you see some signs that your organization’s employer brand isn’t up to par, get out into the community. Make your presence known at local job fairs and connect with the local community to win back their loyalty.
3. Consider Increasing Pay/Benefits For Employees
One way to entice candidates to apply for your organization is to provide better pay and benefits for employees. At the moment, $15 an hour seems like a good benchmark that ensures workers get what they deserve, along with other incentives like bonuses. This strategy will have a positive impact on employee morale.
It is hard for many Americans to make ends meet at the current minimum wage with such high inflation rates. Giving workers a financial motivation that surpasses what they are getting from unemployment will help.
If you can’t increase wages that high, brainstorm ways to provide smaller pay improvements or other perks such as medical coverage. For example, you could offer a standard wage with the promise of a six-month evaluation at a higher salary. Don’t make empty promises, though. Follow through with the evaluation and make what you are looking for clear. How can employees ensure that they’ll be eligible for a higher salary? Employees will see through your initial promises if you don’t keep up with them, and this won’t bode well for keeping new employees.
4. Offer Flexible/Remote Work Arrangements
Employees who worked from home during COVID are now seeing this as a requirement for their current job opportunities. This is obviously not an easy solution for hotels or restaurants, but remote work can be a solution in certain industries like sales, marketing, and customer service.
If you can’t provide a fully remote workspace, consider a hybrid model where employees can spend time in an office or work from home. This saves office space as most hybrid workforces use desk sharing versus a permanent desk for every employee.
Lastly, you could offer your workforce a more flexible schedule. For example, you might go to a four-day workweek or provide employees with the ability to pick shifts. Creating flexible schedules gives employees the ability to spend time with family while still getting things done for you.
5. Evaluate How Current Employees Are Feeling
Many companies are not aware of the current climate in their office and how it may be affecting employees. As we discussed earlier, the great resignation is happening. Backfilling positions is not the best use of your time. You don’t want to take one step forward and two steps back.
Take a look at your staff reports to see if any major issues or trends have emerged. Are people calling out sick more often? Do your younger employees feel overworked? Is your turnover rate increasing?
A lot of people focus solely on metrics like profit margins but forget about internal wellness factors. Your company needs to survey team morale periodically. By asking employees about work-related issues, your team can catch and resolve any issues before they lead to turnover.
Remember, many employees might have stayed at your organization for stability, but that doesn’t guarantee that they are happy with their work. It’s important to keep connecting with employees, even if you feel like employees are loyal to your company.
6. Offer Training For People That Want To Work
Many organizations avoid unskilled workers. There are so many conversations online where job applications will ask for three years of experience for an entry-level job. Employers want to ramp up employees quickly, but that’s not always easy. If you have a worker shortage, sometimes you have to get to the basics of what you need from workers. Are you asking for skills that can be trained on the job? What about transferrable skills, especially for women who left the workforce during COVID.
If you have employees who want to work, create a training program to get them up to speed in their first 90 days. Don’t let a hard-working employee slip through the cracks because they don’t have all the skills you’d like them to have upfront.
7. Utilize Independent Contractors/Contingent Workers Where Necessary
Lastly, if you are having a challenging time finding full-time workers, consider independent contractors or contingent workers. Hiring contingent workers may not be a permanent solution for your organization if you are looking for full-time employees, but it could help fill in the gaps while waiting for a part-time or full-time hire.
Independent contractors are usually open to working a decent amount each week. You may even find an independent contractor that you love and want to hire full-time. For example, a couple of WorkBright hires started their journey with our company as independent contractors!
Finding A Way To Remain Productive While Managing An Employee Shortage
It is essential to find ways to stay productive while managing an employee shortage. One way is to streamline your hiring process. This can be done with the use of applicant tracking and employee onboarding software. This software makes it easier to engage with candidates and new hires. You can use this software even if you have provided them a hybrid or remote work model that does not require them to come into the office to complete their new hire paperwork.
Also, you should be supporting essential workers who make your organization run to avoid employee burnout. Keep frontline workers top of mind because we are still going through a pandemic (especially with new variants of COVID-19 spreading quickly.)
Employee shortages require a lot of juggling for employers. You are trying to keep current employees happy while also dealing with a lack of employees to fill open positions. It’s going to take some work, but we hope these tips can help you get started.