You might not have heard, but there’s a bit of a country-wide job crisis going on right now.
To the chagrin of CEOs and recruitment offices across America, the labor shortage is a very real phenomenon that’s had a significant impact on the bottom lines of businesses across industries. The common explanation for the shortage that these executives offer is simplistic to a fault, with these people throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “nobody wants to work.”
While that may be an extension of how these people are feeling, trying to reel in a workforce that has survived a global pandemic and come to re-evaluate what they deserve from their workplaces, that explanation is flawed to the point of delusion. It’s not that workers don’t want to work, as many Americans still take pride in their jobs and still need a steady stream of income to survive ever-rising inflation rates and a tanking economy: it’s that workplaces aren’t offering enough in their employee value proposition to attract workers.
The labor shortage exists for a myriad of reasons, not all of which can or should be explained here. For our purposes, it will do to acknowledge a simple fact: the way that businesses across the U.S. responded to the COVID pandemic communicated a strong message to employees, a message that they were replaceable and that businesses did not care about their health or well-being.
For those employees that were not laid off immediately when things started to get hairy, they were forced into the wild, interacting with a pandemic-infected public that cared even less about their well-being than their employers. This reality caused a mass exodus from these industries, with workers looking to replace these jobs with jobs that see them as valuable, that pay more, and that offer the benefits they deserve.
No, for employers looking to attract workers to their companies, they must take a different tact than these CEOs screaming “lazy workers” from the highest of hilltops: that will be seen as a red flag, and not one that employees will charge at. Instead, they must take a look at what they’re offering employees, where they can improve the quality of life of the employees they have, and what they can do to offer a starving workforce what they need to come back to work.
The culture and climate have changed: employees now hold all the cards, and it’s up to businesses to change to accommodate their needs or slowly fade into obscurity. Without further ado, here are some things you can do to improve your employee value proposition and attract new workers.
Raise Your Wages
Yes, yes, this is easier said than done, and chances are there will be a lot of resistance to the idea the higher the idea passes along. However, if you want to attract new workers, this may be the best place to start: while not necessary if you’re offering competitive pay for your industry, if you find that you’re offering the lower end of what most offer for a particular position, you should certainly consider raising your wages. This is true, especially for entry-level positions, as hiring managers like to use the experience as leverage against paying their people more. Remember, experience doesn’t put food on the table, at least not at the moment, and that’s something that your would-be employees will keep in mind.
Raising your wages on a scale will also make it more likely you keep the employees you have, making them feel more appreciated.
Re-Evaluate the Tools Your Employees Work With
Whether you’re a restaurant owner looking to survive the ongoing pandemic or an accounting firm buried in disorganized files, the tools your employees use to do day-to-day operations probably deserve a second look. Older tech is less efficient than newer models, and the older your tech is, the more likely it is that something will go wrong mid-shift or that your computers will crash in the middle of the workday.
If you can’t afford to invest in brand new tech (as that tends to cost a pretty penny), at a bare minimum, you’ll want an excellent IT company on deck to help if your tech seems to be running slower than normal. You’ll want one that’s relatively close by, to be on-call in case something goes wrong and you can’t work with your tech in the middle of the workday – for example, if you live in Kansas City, take a look at a company that provides Kansas City managed IT services.
Recognize the Employees You Have
Part of the reason why some companies are hemorrhaging employees is that those employees feel both underpaid and underappreciated; and if you’ve already raised pay and you find that your employees are still leaving at an unprecedented rate, you might want to implement a program to recognize employees that are doing good work.
While things like employee of the month programs are a good way to recognize employees to a point, they are also cheap: the old adage “talk is cheap” certainly applies here, as most low-paying industries have employee recognition programs as a standard, posting employees’ pictures on a billboard but offering no significant bonus to illustrate their gratitude. Whether the bonus you choose to provide to your employees takes the form of a monetary bonus or simply giving your employee perks that they can exercise at any point, such as a parking spot up front or extra PTO, you need to do more than tell them they’re a good employee if you want your recognition to have any worth.
Drastic renovation of our practices is necessary if we want to continue being viable moving forward. If businesses want to survive this labor shortage and survive the next wave of start-ups offering the benefits we won’t provide our employees afterward, we need to take the initiative now and offer our employees a compelling reason to work with us.