After a tumultuous 2020 and beginning of 2021, many employers have started to think about expanding their staff once again. Now, some are facing a new crisis: employee shortages. This problem may surprise some employers, and it certainly creates a challenge. The key to overcoming the shortage and hiring a great staff is first understanding the many factors that caused the scarcity and then shifting recruitment strategies to attract available workers.
Our current situation is not the result of just the most recent events. The stage for our employee shortage was set back around 2009. During the recession, many workers lost their retirement savings in the stock market. Younger workers had many years in their career to absorb the impact of the loss, but the generation who was ready to retire did not. At that point, many workers chose to work past a typical retirement age.
While Baby Boomers chose to delay retirement, younger Millennials and those in Gen Z graduated college and entered the workforce. That resulted in more generations simultaneously in the workforce than ever before. New employees were met with challenges of not being able to get a job or not being able to grow in their career because those at the top were staying in the workforce longer.
Employee exodus due to the pandemic
The pandemic permanently altered the employment landscape in many different ways. Almost overnight, employees found themselves in new situations that ranged from not having a job to not feeling safe in their job to having to juggle working while caring for children at the same time. Women were hit the hardest, with many leaving their positions to care for children or oversee online learning during the day.
Many of those Baby Boomers who put off retirement for the last decade decided that the pandemic represented the perfect time to retire. Conditions in their current job may have changed in ways they disliked, they might have felt more vulnerable to the health effects of the pandemic, or their job was eliminated temporarily. Rather than finding a new job, they decided not to return at all.
Broken trust in some industries
Some industries are having a particularly hard time bringing workers back to their positions. These workers, having seen that their job was suddenly nonessential and nonexistent, had to move on to provide for themselves. Some sought employment with more stability; others took the opportunity to transition to a career they have always wanted to try. Some who may have been willing to return to their old job were hurt by employer rhetoric alleging them of not wanting to work in favor of unemployment benefits. After the many challenges of the last year, knowing an employer views you in that light is not a motivator to return to that environment.
For whatever reason, many workers have moved into different industries during the pandemic. Employers who had to reduce staff are now at a loss when trying to increase staffing to pre-pandemic levels.
Adapting recruitment strategies for the current market
There are many challenges in recruiting workers in this unique work environment. Many workers have moved on to other opportunities, and some who remain might have been out of the workforce for an extended period. Retirements have left us with an experience gap as well. The good news is that those challenges represent opportunities to target recruiting strategies. In thinking about the obstacles that potential employees face with returning, we can also see the best ways to entice them back.
One huge obstacle, and a reason there was a mass exodus of workers during the pandemic, is childcare. Childcare is expensive, and some families discovered that dropping to one income while forgoing paid childcare was financially beneficial. Look into offering paid leave or childcare assistance as part of your benefits package. When you hire those who have stepped away to raise children, be sure you are paying them competitively for the job they’re doing rather than offering less because of an employment gap.
While you can do little to change the fact that much of your workforce might be retiring, there is opportunity there, too. Think about what positions you offer as jobs versus what can be turned into careers with room for advancement. The younger generation has often spent the first part of their career stuck in entry-level positions because of delayed retirements. Now, you can use the opportunity for advancement as a marketing tool. While there will still be some level of employee turnover, investing in your employees will always return dividends to your company.
Younger workers are often still paying off their student loans or trying to pay for their current education. New hires fresh out of college often have their loan payments begin six months after graduation. This is the time when they begin to think about and ask for pay raises. If your company offers tuition reimbursement or a student loan payment benefit, it will likely appeal to those candidates trying to advance their careers through education or reduce their student debt.
A combination of delayed retirements after a past recession and the upheaval of the pandemic has created an environment of employee shortages despite available jobs. By considering the needs of your potential employees and catering to them in your recruitment strategies, you can successfully attract the talent you need to move forward.
Need help identifying recruitment strategies to overcome employee shortages? Reach out to WhyHR to talk about our consulting services.