Being unable to hire qualified workers is the most critical and widespread challenge businesses face today in the post-pandemic world. Businesses that don’t have enough employees are forced to reduce their hours, scale down operations, and in some cases, permanently close, all leading to a less than rosy economic recovery.
In a recent Committee to Unleash Prosperity paper CTUP_BonusUnemploymentBenefitsLaborShortage.pdf (committeetounleashprosperity.com) by Casey Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who served as chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the latest monthly jobs report from the Department of Labor for April and May have shown disappointing employment increases, flat job participation rates, and a slight increase in the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits. Two weeks before the May jobs survey, the BLS counted 9.3 million unfilled jobs in America, even with more than nine million Americans “unemployed.” The 9.3 million unfilled jobs is almost 2 million beyond the pre-pandemic record for the U.S., and the policy riddle is why more unemployed workers are not getting back in jobs. Small business owners around the country—construction firms, restaurants, bars, retailers, hospitals, and factories—are complaining that workers they want to rehire are less likely to work now. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, some nine of 10 small employers are citing a shortage of workers as a top concern.
Back in March, Congress and President Biden enacted the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. H.R.1319 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Because of the $300-a-week bonus unemployment benefits enacted in March 2021, along with other expansions of welfare benefits and cash payments unrelated to work:
- In 21 states and DC, households can receive a wage equivalent of $25 an hour in benefits
- with no one working.
- In 19 states, benefits are equivalent to $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with
- two unemployed parents.
- In all but two of the blue states, $300 Supplemental Unemployment Insurance benefits
plus other welfare pay more than the wage equivalent of a $15 minimum wage
There are 1.4 available workers per job opening in the US. This rate is just half the average of the past 20 years
Clearly, corporations are going to need to woo these workers back to work. According to Jennifer Shappley, Jennifer Shappley | LinkedIn the vice president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, the key to success in fighting the war for talent, is for corporations to offer flexibility to their employees.
Forward-thinking companies recognize that employees, just like consumers, are attracted to different types of flexibility. The below are some ways you might consider enticing your prospective employees and current workforce back to the office
- Offer a hybrid model where they work 2-3 days in the office and the remaining days in an alternate location
- Create more inclusive job advertisements. Job listings referring to “responsibilities” rather than “requirements “. LinkedIn finds a 14% increase in candidates when job posts mention responsibilities, but not requirements
- Consider whether a 4- year bachelor’s degree is necessary. LinkedIn reports a 20% increase in managers hired who didn’t possess a traditional four-year degree.
- Be empathetic and concerned about your employee’s mental health- allow sick days to be used for “wellness days”
- Re-imagine the workplace to be warm and inviting
- Create informal areas where employees can collaborate with each other
- Sponsor afternoon events where employees can enjoy a glass of wine and each other’s company
At the end of the day, monetary compensation is only one reason why employees work. Help your employees to balance their work and personal lives, provide a comfortable and relaxing work environment and allow them responsibilities where they feel fulfilled at the end of the day and you will attract the candidates you need!