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The U.S. Talent Shortage Explained

Becky Frankiewicz
Jul 30, 2021 12:25:53 PM

Today we are in a worker's market. There are more open jobs than before the pandemic, and fewer people in the labor force. According to our 2021 Talent Shortage Survey, global talent shortages are at a 15-year high and more than 1 in 3 of U.S. employers report difficulty filling jobs.

The reasons for this shortage are complex, with child care, health and well-being, and competition all playing a role. Now is the time to get creative to attract new workers – and holding onto the workers you have is critical.

Here are some actions we are seeing companies take:

Fast Cash & Fast Decision Making

I am seeing companies becoming much more eager to adopt creative incentive programs to secure talent and reduce turnover.

For example:

  • A distribution warehouse in Texas has offered a $250 bonus every other week (up to $1,500) if employees work their scheduled week. 
  • A manufacturer of agricultural pumps in the Midwest is offering a retention bonus of $500 if hired temp-to-perm in 60 days.
  • Some companies are offering attendance bonuses, such as a $2/hour bonus for one week of perfect attendance, a $100 bonus for showing up on the first day of work, and progressive bonuses ($100 for one full week, $200 for the second week, etc.).

Candidates want to apply today, start tomorrow, and be rewarded with their pay the same day or week. It’s time to streamline the application process because good candidates won’t wait.

Full Flexibility

It isn’t just office workers who’ve gotten used to working at home. Many contact center roles have gone virtual; what’s more, many of these roles have been filled with candidates coming from the service and hospitality industry. Many of those workers have thrived in their new roles and may likely think twice before going back to previous lifestyles of working nights or weekends.

In our latest Employment Outlook Survey, 8 in 10 respondents said they wanted a better work/life balance going forward.

Here are some ideas for providing a flexible work environment:

  • Create a culture of flexibility with accountability
  • Use a scheduling app to allow workers to give up and pick up shifts
  • Offer job sharing or splitting

We have evolved from the Great Reallocation of labor as the crisis hit, to the Great Rehiring, and now the Great Worker Awakening. We have all been changed by the crisis and workers want more from work than a paycheck. New expectations of flexibility and work-life blend, health and well-being are contributing to a shift in how people participate in work and engage with their jobs. We need to prepare to go back to the future of work, not the past.

To attract and keep your people today companies need to look at more than pay – focus on flexibility, culture, career development – and a connection to a broader purpose – this is what will make top employers stand apart as destinations for skilled talent.

3 Ways to Compete for Talent

Take Down Barriers: With a tight labor market, employers may want to reconsider some of the barriers to employment. One of these is the practice of doing drug screenings before employment. By doing the drug screening after hire, employees are able to start sooner without a prolonged onboarding process. Larger employers can save time and money by conducting screenings onsite as well, streamlining the onboarding process even further.

In addition, HR professionals may want to reconsider offering drug screenings altogether depending on the position and the work involved in that particular role.

Similarly, employers may want to consider eliminating background checks or limiting the offenses to allow more workers in. Across the board, criminal screens eliminate less than 3% of all candidates. Most clients in operations and logistics are hiring contingent upon the background check and many are looking at loosening these restrictions.

Enable Employees To Get To Work: Transportation can be a huge issue and can limit the hours your workforce is available. If this is an issue at your facility, consider offering free or reduced public transportation passes or even free rides on Uber or Lyft.

Accommodate Other Cultures: Making the work environment friendly to non-English speakers helps expand one’s applicant pool. By hiring a bilingual supervisor, investing in portable translators and/or creating bilingual signs and materials you become a competitive employer. You may even include access to English as a Second Language classes.

Finally, don’t overlook the appeal of permanent employment. Given a choice, many candidates prefer the security of a full-time job rather than temporary or temp-to-perm.

Above are just a few ways to compete for candidates in an unprecedented labor market. To learn more about the talent shortage in the U.S., get the latest talent shortage survey results.

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Read the Talent Shortage Results

To learn more about the talent shortage in the U.S., get the latest talent shortage survey results.

Read the Results Here

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