There is a significant problem that is now confronting business owners and managers all around the nation, and that problem is an acute labor shortage.
On the surface, it would seem as if there is a lack of employees available for employment, which would explain the abundance of job postings. However, bafflingly enough, it is not the situation at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is still hanging just around 5 percent, which translates to about 7.5 million jobless Americans. This is an improvement from recent years, when it was closer to 10 percent.
In addition, numerous important COVID-19 programs came to a stop at the conclusion of the summer, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, which came to an end, and children returning to attending schools in person. As a result of this, several economists anticipated that employees would be encouraged to return to the labor this autumn. That has most definitely not been the case; while some people are going back to work, an unprecedented number of others are abandoning their jobs.
This article examines the present labor market, discusses various reasons why people have been hesitant to return to work despite the availability of openings, and offers suggestions as to how companies might lure some of the employees who have been reluctant to return to the workforce.
Influencing Factors of the Current Labor Shortage
The current scarcity of available workers presents an intriguing scenario. Given that there are close to 8 million people who are now without jobs, one might argue that there is no scarcity of labor in the traditional sense. On the other hand, there are a huge number of vacant positions in the workforce that have not yet been filled. In this regard, one may say that there is a lack of available workers. In this section, probable contributory causes, many of which are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, are examined in further detail.
Concern on the Risk of Contracting COVID-19
Concerns about COVID-19 may be a contributing factor to the current state of the job market. Simply put, some employees are terrified of getting a bad case of COVID-19 while they are on the job. Some people believe that the benefits of continuing to be jobless outweigh the potential downsides of actively seeking employment. On the other hand, this may become less of a problem if more people in the United States are vaccinated.
During the epidemic, a significant portion of the nation was under some kind of lockdown, and there were limitations placed on travel, gatherings, and the activities of businesses. In practice, many of the things that individuals loved doing were made unavailable to them for almost a whole year. That meant that any money spent on going out to dine, seeing a movie, or attending a performance was deposited into the individual's savings account rather than being used for those activities. Additionally, during this critical period, people got significant checks as part of the stimulus package and had access to expanded unemployment benefits, both of which boosted to savings.
Now, some employees are planning to stay out of the labor field by living off of the funds they have accumulated over the years. In essence, they are using their strengths in order to maintain hope of landing a desired job. Under more typical conditions, it's possible that these individuals would have accepted the first available opportunity. However, since they have a financial cushion, they are able to hold out for a longer period of time.
Putting the Needs of the Employees First
Workers were forced to reconsider their objectives as a direct result of the COVID-19 epidemic, which contributed to the labor shortage. Workers immediately started reevaluating the importance of their employment and the priorities they had in their lives. During the course of the epidemic, a typical line of thinking was, "Is this employment worth the risk to my mental and physical health?" Even if some of the workers who were laid off have been offered their old jobs, the majority of those who have been asked have responded with a loud "no."
Workers now have the ability to be more selective in the employment that they take since they have built up funds in the meanwhile. Because of this, a sizeable number of people have made the decision to leave their existing occupations in order to look for opportunities that would provide them with more satisfaction.
When seeking for new employment, candidates prioritize the following benefits, according to the findings of many surveys:
Options for flexible scheduling and/or working from home (telework)
The availability of employee perks
More than enough remuneration
Continued Responsibilities Regarding Caregiving
In conclusion, the COVID-19 epidemic has had an impact on the labor market due to difficulties in providing child care. A few of educational institutions have resumed the practice of teaching students in-person, while others have not. In addition to that, the prices charged by certain day care facilities have skyrocketed owing to staffing shortages and an increase in the number of parents looking for child care.
There are some parents who are unable to afford day care because it is either too expensive or comes with too many potential dangers. Instead of immediately going back to work, it could be more financially beneficial to continue being a caretaker who works from home for a little while longer.
Options for Possible Employers to Consider
When taken together, the variables that are contributing to the present labor crisis amount to a greater degree of leverage for employees. Certain employees are aware that their bosses are making frantic efforts to fill open jobs. As a result, those employees are using their labor as leverage to seek jobs that they value more highly and are waiting for the best offer possible.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of companies to make their workplaces and available jobs ones that workers are interested in applying for. Doing anything less than that might have a negative influence on both the recruitment and retention of employees. That calls for putting into action some of the features that workers have indicated they desire, including the following ones:
Flexibility in Working Hours and Location of the Workplace
Many places of employment that were able to continue operating normally at the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic relocated to more distant locations. This meant that the majority of workers had to do their jobs from their homes. Many of those workers do not want to go back to working in their regular locations now that businesses have begun reopening.
Instead, previously remote workers seek to keep their position as independent contractors. Employers are thus faced with a number of choices, two of which are to either permit teleworking for select employees or to implement hybrid schedules (i.e., require some in-person days, allowing telework the rest of the week).
Telework not only helps companies better meet the needs of their employees, but it also broadens the applicant pool, which is another benefit for those businesses. If the duties of a post may be performed from any location, the recruiting process for that position does not need to be limited to a particular geographical area. It also makes it possible for firms to keep employees who would otherwise be interested in migrating to a different location of the country.
Gaining Access to Benefits
In every organization, perks for employees are highly sought after assets. Even limited benefit packages that just contain health insurance might be quite helpful to workers in the long run. They are appreciated much more by workers who do not have access to them, such as those who work part-time or who are employed in the service industry.
In point of fact, one of the reasons some former employees have not gone back to their old jobs is because they do not have access to employee benefits, or they do not have any benefits at all. After going through a pandemic, it is easy to see why people are less motivated to go for in-person professions that do not provide health care.
Employers have the option of contemplating the ways in which the employee benefits packages they provide could attract the kind of people they need. This might imply making more benefit alternatives available to some workers, such as those who are only employed part-time. Alternately, if a company does not already provide any perks to its employees, the company could want to think about starting to do so. When it comes to filling available roles or keeping top people on board, doing so might make a significant impact.
Increased Restitution and Benefits
When interviewing workers about what inspires them, compensation is a topic that comes up often for obvious reasons. To put it another way, people will most likely react to improvements in their wages. It is possible for a company to explore increasing pay rates if they have the financial means to do so in order to recruit employees or to keep high performers.
Alternately, employers have the option of considering various forms of pay, which are essentially benefits or value-adds that augment the overall value of a job. The following are some examples of such privileges:
Ample amount of time off work
Rewards for reaching certain levels of output
Occasional meals provided by a caterer
Outings for the staff, funded by the company
At the office, complimentary drinks and snacks are provided.
In the end, companies need to seek for ways to show that they appreciate their employees by providing them with opportunity to do so. Increasing remuneration, whether via the techniques described above or through other ones, is one approach that may go a long way toward demonstrating gratitude.
Increasing the sense of accomplishment that workers have in their work is another tactic that may be used to attract and retain employees. In essence, it is the responsibility of employers to assist workers in answering the question, "Why is this job important?"
The response to that inquiry will be unique to the organization and the role, but there are a few overarching ways that employers may assist their workers in this respect. Companies may directly address the issue in job descriptions by emphasizing how the role serves consumers or a wider objective. Specifically, this is something that employers can do.
Employers should also explore the possibility of starting a branding campaign in order to assist in telling an essential narrative. This could include revising the message associated with the brand, advocating certain projects, or taking action on social concerns. In a nutshell, these kinds of initiatives assist reflect the values that are held in a business. And when employees are given with a number of potential employers that are comparable to one another, they are likely to make their decision about where they want to work based on which firm shares their values.
Benefits for the Employer
The present lack of workers may be attributed to a number of interrelated causes, the majority of which are attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, there are still a significant number of people who are looking for work, so this is not a classic labor shortage. The actual issue seems to be that people are taking advantage of the current climate to advance their careers and seek better positions.
It is difficult to predict for how much longer employees will continue to be choosy with their labor. In all likelihood, cost cutting measures will only be effective for a limited time, but there is now an abundant supply of vaccines, so the pandemic may be brought under control in the near future. It's possible that workers may be required to return to the labor sooner rather than later.
But this could not be the case; the scarcity of workers might last for many more months than was originally projected. Therefore, it is in the best interest of companies to listen to the wishes of jobless people, such as having more flexibility in their work schedules and receiving better benefits. Gaining an understanding of these forces will be essential for attempts to recruit and retain employees.
When it comes down to it, an employer that doesn't pay attention to what prospective workers want from their jobs runs the risk of receiving fewer applications, both in terms of the quality of those applications and the number of those applications. As a result, this may have a significant effect on an organization's capacity for growth and success.