4 Strategies To Help You Overcome Labor Shortages

4 Strategies To Help You Overcome Labor Shortages

August 24, 2022

Labor shortages continue to make headlines. But perhaps the most startling example is a May 2022 Fortune magazine report on companies that are being ghosted by as many as 15% to 20% of new hires. That is, a candidate applies and interviews for a job, is offered the job and accepts it. And then, without a word, they never show up for work.

Ghosting may add insult to injury in the battle for talent, but it’s only a symptom of the labor shortage, not a cause. Part of the challenge is that there isn’t a single explanation but rather a host of connected issues, including:

  • Pandemic health and safety concerns
  • Baby boomer retirements
  • Caregiving needs
  • Changing priorities around work and life

Amid these intertwined challenges, what can you do to attract and retain the workforce you need to remain competitive? Start with these four strategies:

  • Offer competitive salaries and benefits, and flexibility.
  • Prioritize employee retention.
  • Show off your organization.
  • Reevaluate your job requirements.

Benchmark salary, benefits and flexibility

Many companies are turning to signing bonuses and pay increases to attract new employees, but these tactics have shown mixed results, according to the human resources and benefits consultant firm Segal. Research helps explain why.

The Harvard Business Review reports that 90% of employees would accept less pay in exchange for a job that aligns with their values and purpose. And only 38% of employees ages 25 to 45 say that pay is the top factor in their job satisfaction, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

That said, salary and benefits continue to top the wish list for job candidates. While prospective employees may be willing to trade some salary for the right job, you’ll still need to be competitive to entice employees with your other offerings.

Start by analyzing the compensation packages of similar organizations in your industry. With that benchmarking data in hand, you can adjust your salary, benefits and bonus packages to meet employee expectations and make sure you’re putting your compensation dollars into the right offerings.

Flexibility is another top priority for candidates. Flexibility can mean different things to different people, including:

  • Remote work
  • Hybrid work
  • Flexible start and stop times
  • Occasional half days for caregiving duties
  • Summer schedules

Evaluate your job designs and workplace practices to discover where you can increase flexibility. Then, survey your employees about their desired work arrangements to make sure those potential changes align with their needs.

Retain valued employees

Attraction and retention go hand in hand. To be a desirable workplace for new hires, you’ll need to create an environment that keeps employees around. The following strategies can help you get there.

  • Conduct pulse interviews with top performers. Learn about current engagement levels and potential improvements through short interviews with your most valued employees. In addition, gauge their reactions to policy changes, new initiatives or added benefits. With limited benefit dollars, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your resources.
  • Survey all employees. Surveys can help you uncover important insights and frustrations in real time. It’s important to know about benefits that employees want added, like flexible scheduling, but it can be equally helpful to know which to subtract. For example, if a wellness initiative leaves some employees feeling left out and resentful, you can switch gears to a more inclusive offering.
  • Offer gratitude bonuses. Signing bonuses have increased as a way to attract new employees, in part because they are a one-time payment that doesn’t get tied into cost-of-living raises down the road. However, bonuses aimed at new hires can create discontent with long-time employees who feel like they are missing out. That’s where gratitude bonuses enter the picture. These one-time bonuses can reward current employees for their hard work, without being tied to salary or future increases.

The common denominator is to communicate with your employees and understand their motivations. This will help you keep top performers and attract new ones.

Create a highlight reel

Another key strategy for attracting and retaining employees is to send regular reminders about your organization’s offerings, including:

  • Employee benefits — Know your audience, and then lead with your most attractive offerings for potential candidates. Examples include flexibility, paid time off and voluntary benefits like student loan repayments and pet insurance.
  • Mission and values — An SHRM survey of more than 5,600 employees revealed that alignment between work and personal values was the most important factor for job satisfaction. Use a strong mission statement — who you are, what you do and who you serve — to attract motivated employees.
  • Workplace culture — This is another area where your values shine through. Diversity and inclusion initiatives, wellness programs and a supportive work environment can all help you become an employer of choice in this tight labor market.
  • Workplace perks — Now is also the time to draw attention to extra offerings that support employees in their day-to-day responsibilities. These might include free or subsidized meals, fitness programs and caregiving resources.

Use your communication channels to highlight volunteer opportunities, community involvement and other events that bring your employees together and demonstrate your company’s commitment to core values.

In addition to highlighting your organization in job descriptions, media packets and company emails, be sure to engage users on your social media platforms. By creating a dialogue, you can further demonstrate why people want to work for you.

Don’t miss out on talent

Another way to find talent is to reevaluate your job requirements and descriptions.

Outdated requirements for college degrees, for example, could cause you to miss out on strong, diverse talent, according to an article in Forbes. Today’s job candidates may have completed educational certificates, online coursework or apprenticeships that provide valuable work experience without a traditional four-year degree.

And don’t discount a candidate just because their college degree isn’t relevant to the job. They may offer people skills or new ways of solving problems that could enhance their role.  

Another strategy is to run job descriptions past your current employees. They can give you insights into what workers want, what is no longer relevant, skills that may be missing or other information that can make a difference in landing the right talent.

Evaluate your offerings

For more ideas on overcoming today’s labor challenges, talk with your insurance broker or benefits adviser. They can help you evaluate benchmarking data and review your compensation packages to make sure your offerings are aligned with the job market.

Blue Ridge Risk Partners is a top 75 independent insurance agency in the United States. With 22 offices and counting throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and access to hundreds of carriers, we are able to meet your unique insurance needs.