office with empty chairs 

Key takeaways in this blog:

  • Employers across industries nationwide are feeling a national labor shortage.
  • There are several factors contributing to the labor shortage, including current unemployment benefits, family care and workplace safety concerns.
  • Flexible work schedules, including remote options, are expected to become a permanent fixture in many industries.
  • Organizations looking to attract and retain the best talent should consider offering unique benefits to employees, including childcare, education options and more.

 

Monday, Sept. 6, 2021 – Labor Day – will mark the end of the $300 bonus unemployment benefit part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden this March. Based on claims by employers nationwide, however, that date can’t come soon enough. 

Why? Because of the current workforce shortage occurring nationwide, an event some employers say is directly tied to current unemployment benefits. As widely reported, some people (but not all) are believed to not actively be seeking work as they are making more via unemployment benefits than they did working.

This has prompted states like Montana, South Carolina and, most recently, Ohio to end all pandemic unemployment benefits for its residents citing a work shortage as a reason why. While this may push some back into the workforce, an important question remains for employers: What can organizations do to attract top talent (and keep them) in a post-pandemic world? As it turns out, several things – and not all of them are tied to higher wages, either. 

For those seeking to end their company’s labor shortfall, each of the following options could provide much-needed relief. All that may be needed is the vision – from both the organization and prospective employee – and the wherewithal to see them through and make them work.

 

WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY = INCREASED WORKER SATISFACTION

Yes, many people will be returning to the workforce soon, but according to many reports, scores of them may not be looking to go back to their old jobs. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, as much as 25% more workers than previously estimated are potentially seeking to switch industries post-COVID-19. 

As McKinsey and others have discovered, people that work in jobs with a higher level of physical proximity (medicine, personal care, restaurants, on-site customer service, leisure and travel) suffered the most disruption. However, those who were able to work remotely or had less customer-facing issues saw significantly less. Additionally, at least 2.2 million women have left the workforce following the onset of COVID-19 due to childcare and/or family care concerns, among other factors.

These two reasons are among some of the reasons why many organizations nationwide are exploring some form of remote work flexibility moving forward, both for current workers and new hires. 

Google recently joined Twitter, Square and a growing list of companies in announcing a hybrid workweek, allowing some workers to spend three days in the office and two teleworking. The company is also allowing some workers to request a complete change of office locations while allowing 20% of staff to work from home permanently. Instacart recently announced 70%-plus of its employees will now permanently work remotely.

While the nature of the business of certain industries doesn’t allow for such options, those that do may be wise to explore it – and not just because workers favor it. Reports have shown that many people have been more productive working remotely making the concept one that is likely to stay (or at least serve as an incentive to attract new hires outside of an organization’s market).

 

PARENTS SEEK EMPLOYERS THAT WORK WITH THEIR SCHEDULES, NEEDS

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how issues like childcare and food instability are affecting workers, women especially, as many have cut back on hours four to five times more than fathers. That has prompted some companies to offer numerous incentives to lure them back to the workplace, such as childcare. 

According to a recent study, 42% of organizations that have already returned to work or didn’t experience shutdowns have a dedicated plan for employees with childcare responsibilities. The same study revealed that 71% of white-collar industry organizations plan to create worksite plans around childcare while only 28% of blue-collar industry ones do not plan to do so. 

Additionally, 59% of organizations surveyed plan to address childcare accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of industry, if a working parent is choosing between companies that accommodate their needs versus those that don’t, these findings are making their choice obvious. 

 

(NO LONGER) BUSINESS AS USUAL 

When it comes to attracting workers, creativity should have no bounds. Incentives such as transportation stipends, gift cards and extended PTO to cover vaccinations and recovery are just some of the things being offered by employers. Some companies are also investing in using others like Fringe, a benefits marketplace, to offer everything from Uber rides and meal/grocery delivery to online classes, babysitting services and tutoring for children.

Bottom line, the old ways of doing business have been altered, if not eliminated, forever. Employers looking to get ahead in a new normal, however, will continuously look for innovative ways to attract and retain employees, despite whatever challenges they may face. By looking at what employees need beyond a paycheck, your company can stay ahead of the competition. Additionally, adopting strategies like these can help accelerate our economy’s race back to normalcy with happier, healthier and more productive employees leading the charge.