Integrated Human Capital

Is a Post-Pandemic Priority Shift the Cause of Your Labor Shortage?

July 14, 2021

After a year of social and economic upheaval, exhausted Americans are taking a step back to reevaluate their career goals. According to a summary from the Department of Labor, more than four million people in the United States quit their jobs in April – the largest spike recorded. As more Americans continue to join what is being dubbed “The Great Resignation”, employers are having to rethink their hiring strategies amid the labor shortage to make their case as an employer of choice.

Here are three areas of focus to help reimagine your competitive employer advantage to attract the best talent and to hold onto your top performers:

1. Communicate with Value:

Communication is more than sending a mass email to your team members. Acknowledging your employees’ contribution to the company will make them feel appreciated. Even a simple “thank you for all that you do” can motivate a person to work harder and feel valued.

Keep in mind that communication is a two-way street, so giving team members an opportunity to express their opinions and concerns through a medium such as monthly surveys will show that the company values their input as well. And with the information from the survey responses, employers can evaluate to understand how their employees feel about the company and their roles.

It’s also essential to communicate often with applicants who are interested in working for your business. Although there can sometimes be an overwhelming number of applicants, following up with them in a timely manner will give them a positive experience off the bat. According to a Fast Company article, only 2% of Fortune 500 companies are communicating with candidates throughout the entire hiring process, so there’s plenty of opportunity to standout as a responsive employer!

Although it’s ideal to send personalized messages to applicants, automated follow-up responses work just as effectively. Automated texts or emails shows candidates that your company values and appreciates applicants’ time and effort. Updating candidates throughout the hiring process will make your employer brand stand out to job seekers.

2. Provide Modern Accommodations for a Modern Workforce:

As employees are returning to the office, employers should consider offering accommodations to their team members that account for modern-day challenges, including longer commutes, childcare, and work-life balance.

For example, providing mileage reimbursement to commuters or investing in shuttle services for those who rely on public transportation can make extended commutes more bearable or shorten travel times for those who rely on public transportation. This SHRM article discusses creative transportation and commuter options some employers are currently implementing, including offering incentives for active commuting (bike, electric bike, scooter, etc.), corporate shuttles, stipends for parking, and stipends to use ride-hailing services and taxis.

For employees raising a family, offering childcare assistance or providing an on-site daycare center can expand a job’s accessibility to a previously untapped labor pool. According to The Washington Post, 11.3 million jobs held by women disappeared almost instantly due to the lack of child care and school closings. The Bureau of Economic Analysis’s data report shows the cost of child care hitting a record in 2020, rising 2.2% even as parents were compelled to cut their spending on child-care as the economy contracted.

Offering modern employee accommodations will not only improve retention but will also attract new talent to your company.

Fig. 1 The Gender Gap Persists

3. Consider Flexible Work Arrangements:

Living through the pandemic has shifted priorities for America’s workforce. In fact, two-thirds of shift workers now rank flexibility in their work arrangements as being more valuable than a pay increase.

In another survey by FlexJobs, 80% of respondents said they’d remain loyal to their employer if they offered flexible work schedules, and 52% said they already tried to negotiate flexible work arrangements with their current employer. Because many job seekers are looking for flexible schedules, employers who offer this option will help the company stand out and recruit more talent consistently, not just during a labor shortage.

Whether people want to return to the office or would rather continue working remotely, considering what job seekers value in an employer will help attract and retain talent for your company.

Fig. 2 Which Benefits Are Most Valued by Job Seekers?

Things to Keep In Mind…

Recruiting and retaining talent saves time and money in the long run. Finding potential candidates can be a lengthy process. On average it takes around 52 days to fill a position in the United States. As for expense, a study on Glassdoor concluded that the average company spends about $4,000 to hire a new employee. According to Toggl Hire, replacing an employee instead of filling a new position can cost up to 50-60% of their annual salary.

By hiring and retaining employees during a labor shortage, companies will be able to keep their overall hiring costs to a minimum. And don’t forget all the other benefits that come with employee retention, including preserving institutional knowledge, increasing revenue, providing better customer service, increasing employee engagement, and preventing valued employees from moving to a competitor.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown people that higher wages don’t solve all of their problems. While a competitive wage is still table stakes for attracting talent, more than anything, employees want to be understood and valued in the workplace. If your approach to hiring during this labor shortage these last few months has fallen short of your goals, now’s a great time to think outside the box and consider the new priorities of a post-pandemic workforce!

Looking for more hiring tips and best practices? Check out our employer content here!
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