Learning & Development, Recruiting

How to Find and Retain the Talent You Need in a Help-Wanted World

The historically high worker shortfall is creating unprecedented challenges for companies. To effectively find the talent you need, it’s important to first understand the social factors creating the labor shortage and, from there, adopt a nuanced approach to recruitment that reflects what prospects really want from a job.

recruitment

According to September 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), American businesses were struggling to fill 10.9 million vacant positions in July—a record high. They are also struggling to keep the talent they have. The 2021 PwC US Pulse Survey found that 88% of executives are experiencing higher turnover than usual, and 65% of employees surveyed are looking for a new job. To explore the story behind the numbers, MNI sought input from top recruiters, combining qualitative and quantitative research to paint a picture of today’s labor market. Our resulting research report examines the conditions driving the mass employee exodus; what employees really want from a job; and recruiters’ best tips, including out-of-the-box techniques, for finding and retaining talent. Here are just a few of our findings.

Money Talks

According to PwC, 4 in 10 executives experiencing turnover attribute it to employees’ leaving for better salaries. In a sense, employees have become self-contained unions, effectively walking off the job for more money. Supply and demand will likely push up the average minimum wage, regardless of government mandates. In fact, The Washington Post reports that pay for rank-and-file workers increased by 2.8% in a 5-month period of 2021—the fastest rate of increase since 1981. As one executive we interviewed for our report mentioned, there’s even a Burger King in Pennsylvania offering new hires a $1,500 signing bonus. The takeaway for businesses is clear: You must offer competitive wages that reflect marketplace realities. You will have little hope of attracting talent otherwise.

Lifestyle Matters

Disenchantment with the 9-to-5 workplace is keeping people out of the job market. According to recruiters MNI spoke with when readying its Help Wanted e-book on the topic, manufacturing, hospitality, food service, and health care seem to be the hardest-hit industries. Many companies in these verticals had to lay off employees during the pandemic. Now they are scrambling to refill entry-level and midlevel nonmanagerial positions, but employees who previously held these roles have moved on to more flexible jobs they can perform at home and have new expectations for work/life balance. Or, employees may be unwilling to risk their safety or give up their time at home for a nonmanagerial job salary.

Offering competitive wages can help lure candidates back to the workplace, but businesses will have to think beyond salary. Recruitment experts suggest making it clear to applicants that you are willing to work with them and offering remote work and flexible hours, if possible. Experts also recommend casting a wider net to fill certain positions. Parolees, people with disabilities, and those without degrees are underused resources in a tight labor market.

The Skills Gap is Real

Another contributor to the labor shortage is the capability gap. In May 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveyed economists working for trade associations and found that in a wide range of fields, including farming, construction, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, and IT, finding qualified workers was a huge obstacle. According to experts MNI spoke with, companies have been struggling to find skilled talent since before the pandemic, but the health crisis exasperated the challenge. With that in mind, businesses may need to be prepared to invest in training and skills development. Rather than trying to find a candidate who matches every capability on your wish list, instead look for people with the right personality—people who are nimble, adaptable, and willing to learn.

Other recruitment best practices include keeping the interview process as quick and painless as possible; communicating with every applicant, even those you are not looking to hire at the moment, as needs could change down the line; and exploring every available channel for connecting with job prospects, including digital tools, advertising, networking events, college career fairs, and “old-school” tactics like hanging up job fliers in local establishments.

While these are challenging times for recruitment, there are ways to stand out from other businesses and fill job vacancies. By understanding the factors that have created the labor shortage and the state of mind and motivations of job prospects, you will have a better chance of creating an effective recruitment program.

Klarn DePalma is the Executive Vice President at MNI Targeted Media.