How to Tackle the Labor Shortage

Labor shortages have been affecting businesses in many industries across the country for months and it’s stated that it will be difficult for years ahead. Navigating this environment is challenging. How do you ensure you have an attractive opportunity for those searching for a job? How do you manage and keep your current staff?

There are two key factors to consider when trying to work around the labor shortage: keeping current employees content and engaged and recruiting effectively.

Address the Needs of Your Employees and Develop a Culture That Is Positive

The first step to take when it comes to the labor shortage is looking at the current state of your culture.

Employees stay with their current employer for a variety of reasons, which includes feeling they are being paid fairly or well, being challenged, feeling appreciated and valued, feeling engaged and empowered to be part of the business, and seeing opportunities for advancement. The first question to ask is, “Are your current employees happy and are their needs being met?” It is much easier to keep current, experienced, and good employees than to find new ones. So, consider the following to ensure that you have a high retention rate.

  1. Review Your Compensation Structure.

With so many job openings out there right now, your current staff might be looking. And when they’re looking, they’re likely looking to see if they can get a pay raise somewhere else. Where does your current compensation model line up? What about financial incentives and bonuses? Many companies are starting to give bonuses to employees for showing up and doing their jobs or working more undesirable shifts. Have you considered a 60-day, 90-day, or yearly bonus? Issuing a periodic bonus to employees once they’ve stayed on staff for a certain amount of time is a great way to ensure they stay and feel appreciated! Another financial incentive could come in the form of commissions for additional sales and upsells.

  1. Communicate with Your Employees and Have Them Help You Solve Staffing and Scheduling Issues. Increase Work Hours of Employees and Get Creative with the Work Schedule.

Job seekers are looking for full time positions! Make sure you’re offering full time hours and not only part time. Some are even looking to pick up overtime. Overtime is to be paid at 1.5x the hourly rate over 8 or 40 depending on the state or location. You can even consider offering a higher hourly rate for overtime for those employees who are picking up less desirable schedules.

Be flexible with employee’s hours! If an employee wants to work 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday so they can be home for their children before and after school, consider adjusting their schedule to allow for it. Or maybe an employee must leave early two days a week to take night classes at a local college. Adjust their schedule to allow for it.

Consider letting employees self-schedule, similar to what airplane pilots do, so they can pick the hours that work best for their lives. You might even consider having two employees “job share” and work their schedule out between themselves, with both signing off on who will work when.

  1. Increase Productivity by Empowering Your Employees with Tools.

Do your employees have suggestions for creating efficiencies at work? Look to the productivity of your employees and how the work is accomplished. Are there ways to automate the work to allow less hands-on time? You might also schedule the work differently with the most skilled doing the more difficult tasks and the least skilled doing the less complex tasks.

  1. Create a Culture of Enjoyment and Commitment to the Company Through Benefits and Training Programs.

Get to know your employees and their families. Send appreciation packages or gift cards to their families for the work your employees do. Arrange perks with local businesses that your employees can enjoy, like discounted tickets to movies or local amusements. Last, be sure to offer a career path to learning the business or other activity. Employees who see advancement opportunities and a future with the company will be more likely to stay. Providing employees with opportunities to learn and grow through the company will help encourage staff to stay. Whether it’s setting aside budget to send staff to conferences, bringing in speakers to teach seminars, or offering tuition assistance for continued education. Employees will see that you value their career growth and advancement.

  1. Ask Your Employees to Recruit for You.

Your staff will always be your best recruiters. Offer incentives or bonuses for employees who make referrals. Perhaps have a sliding scale of the incentive, with different size monetary bonuses for referring someone who applies, when their referral interviews, and if their referral is hired. You can even add a bonus if their referral stays past 60 or 90 days.

Address the Needs of Your Future Employees and Recruit Differently

The second step in navigating the labor shortage is bringing in new talent. It’s not as simple as putting up a job ad anymore. You need to make sure that your open position(s) stand out among a large pool of other opportunities. The most important message you should communicate to a candidate is the culture of your company. That includes being timely in communicating with them and making sure you outline the benefits and value you have for your employees. To entice individuals to apply and consider an opportunity, think of the following:

  1. Offer Referral Bonuses.
    When a new employee is starting, it’s very likely they know others who are job searching too. Giving them an opportunity from the start to refer people they know, and get a bonus for it, will be an enticing benefit when they’re interviewing for the position.
  2. Make Sure Your Compensation Is Competitive in the Market.
    When job seekers have vast options of positions to apply for in the market, they will search for the positions with the most competitive pay rate. Make sure your pay rate helps your company stand out against anywhere else your candidates might be applying.
  1. Offer a Career Path.
    Define a career path and talk about it as early as the interview or even job posting. Job seekers want to see that they can advance in the company. They’ll want to accept a job where they know they can move up in the company.
  2. Recruit Differently than Your Competitor.

Rather than a regular job ad online, use alternative resources. This could include underserved school systems or special needs schools. You should also always have a business card with you, as you meet servers and others in public places. Market your company, business, and needs to those who appear to be good service workers. And don’t forget to ask your employees to recruit for you.

  1. Create a Training School in Which Your Management Teams Teaches.
    Having the ability to train others with your own in-house sessions will help create a sense of loyalty and camaraderie among people. Training together gives them an opportunity to get to know each other, as well as getting to know you, the managers in the company, and the culture of the company. It also shows that you value them and want to set them up for success in their new role. This also affords you as a company to pick the “best in the class” as potential candidates for your open positions.
  2. Consider Taking on Apprentices.
    Bringing on apprentices presents the opportunity to bring on someone who is younger or learning a new trade to teach them everything they need to know. This is a great way to create a sense of loyalty with the apprentice, while also giving current staff a bit more responsibility through the opportunity to teach the apprentice. Apprenticeships are a great pipeline to bring in new staff once they’re fully trained.
  1. Rethink Your Workforce.

Have you considered extending outside of your normal pool to see who is available to be hired? If you have positions that would be appropriate for retirees, high school students, or college students, make sure you’re reaching those audiences.

When it comes to retaining and hiring employees during the labor shortage, these changes can be key to help you become and stay fully staffed. At the end of the day, the success of your business has always, and will always, come down to your employees. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure they are happy and satisfied in their role and with the company.