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Navigating the labor shortage part II: What it means for employers

By: Paul Villella

It’s been called “The Great Resignation” by some. A talent shortage by others. Global labor market data company Emsi has deemed it the “sansdemic” (“sans” meaning without and “demic” meaning people). Regardless of what you call it, this labor shortage is real, and it’s built upon lasting, foundational issues.

This article is the second in a series of three discussing and addressing this talent shortage and the cross-section of hiring demand versus labor supply. We examined the underlying reasons why we are facing such an unprecedented labor shortage in part one. Now, we’re going to find out just what this means for employers.

A Smaller, More Selective Talent Pool

The pandemic has accelerated an underlying issue, bringing to the surface a problem that’s been building for years: there aren’t enough workers to replace the baby boomer generation. Although numbers are beginning to look promising for eventual ease, the keyword is eventual, meaning this issue will still persist in the future.

As the general talent pool shrinks, candidates have a better understanding of where they are and what they provide. In essence, professionals are realizing their worth, and rightfully so. In a time where many companies struggle with staffing solutions, professionals who have the requisite knowledge and skills are understanding their value. 

With that understanding of value comes a selectiveness that may not have existed in the past, at least not at this level. Professionals are weighing their options carefully and placing greater emphasis on their own personal and professional goals, not just those of their organization.

A smaller, more selective talent pool isn’t all that employers must contend with—changing attitudes are redefining workspaces and the general work environment as a whole.

Changing Attitudes, Changing Workplaces

If there’s one thing this labor shortage has never been about, it’s that people don’t want to work. Get that idea out of your head. It’s simply not true. A more accurate statement is: People don’t want to work where they aren’t valued.

But it’s not just that. In an era where health and safety are still at the forefront of people’s minds and work/life balance is more important than ever, professionals who can afford to do so are considering their options more so than in the past.

In November 2021 alone, the most recent data available, roughly 4.5 million Americans left their jobs voluntarily, setting a record and matching the previously unmatched three percent quit rate from September. With more than 10.6 million available jobs in November 2021, they’re doing this knowing there are fruitful options out there—positions offering higher pay, signing bonuses, and flexible schedules, for instance.

American workplaces are beginning to reflect this shift in mindset, too, with flexible workspaces and schedules, including remote and hybrid options. And, for as much as some professionals and employers wish for a full return to work, that just won’t be the case as we move forward.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, remote work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, many professionals prefer remote or hybrid work with some even suggesting that they’d be willing to take a pay cut to have that flexibility.

It’s definitely not the way it used to be, but not much is at this point. Understanding these changing mindsets and adapting workplaces to better suit employees will prove vital to employers as they navigate this labor market.

Bringing It All Together

In such a competitive environment, you have to be just that: competitive. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering exorbitant salaries or shifting your entire workplace to a remote model, but it does mean that you must do some reflection as an employer.

Whether you’ve faced high roster turnover during this time, as many organizations have, or you’ve found yourself with consistent staff, consider why that may be. Of course, you can’t control external factors, but you can examine internal variables and review your structure and processes. 

Talk with your team, take stock of where you are, and strive to understand what environment you’re creating and sustaining. Ultimately, there isn’t a specific right answer (sorry!) because each hiring situation is unique. However, there is always a solution to finding and retaining talent, especially when you’re willing to put in the work to find that solution.

Hiring issues aren’t going to disappear in 2022. Accepting this reality and navigating it effectively will be the key to solving labor shortage issues within your organization. 

After going through the reasons and examining the effect on employers, part three of this series on navigating the labor shortage will focus on the professionals’ side of the labor market. Visit our site to stay up to date on this series and to find more news and insights about the hiring market.

If you’re struggling with this labor shortage but aren’t sure where to turn, get in contact with us. We have the professional expertise and requisite knowledge to help you and your organization navigate and overcome this difficult hiring situation.

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