updated - August 5, 2021 Thursday EDT
Did you know that at the end of April 2021, there was a record-high number of open jobs in the United States? Nine million open professional opportunities, to be exact. But despite the volume of opportunities available, the United States continues to struggle with a labor shortage. Yes, you read that correctly; high unemployment numbers and a labor shortage are underway simultaneously. Organizations explicitly looking to fill low-wage, hourly positions are in trouble.
But even if wages and hourly work does not apply to the kind of roles your organization recruits for, the opportunity to find high-quality talent in an extraordinarily defiant labor market still exists. These times are unlike any other, and if you want to succeed, you will have to innovate. Here's how you can develop lucrative recruiting strategies during a macroeconomic personnel shortage:
A newly published working paper that examined the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation impact found a 10% increase in unemployment benefits, triggered by a 3.6% decline in job applications. Interestingly enough, some employers argue that a 3.6% increase in applications could mend their hiring challenges. Organizational leaders should be mindful of how previous hiring solutions cannot solve current hiring challenges. If your organization wants more people to apply, it must adopt policies that will keep new hires as satisfied as rationally possible.
For starters, pay closer attention to commuting. Research confirms that minor geographic variations in available talent jobs can catalyze unemployment rates. The Harvard Business Review, for example, found an association between a 1% increase in distance and a 4.4% decrease in commuting flows across United States counties. Based on these findings, employers will need to make new adjustments to simplify commuting, especially considering how many Americans relocated over the past year due to the pandemic.
How do we meet the workforce where they are at? We acknowledge the factors that make having a job more complex than it needs to be. Once we identify those challenges, we break down the barriers to working at our organization and make employment a more exciting goal for new hires to have achieved. Some solutions include, but are not limited to, restructuring the workweek, moving shifts away from rush hour, offering remote work opportunities, etc.
Unfortunately, science has yet to wipe COVID-19 off the face of the earth. Vaccinations are on the rise, but herd immunity is still a distant goal. As a result, there is still a lingering fear surrounding the possible contraction of COVID-19. That fear can manifest into a growing concern over returning to the office, let alone applying to a new company.
To counteract any remaining concerns over COVID-19, employers should make a significant investment in keeping their organization safe. Take University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan, for example. Mulligan studied the impact of coronavirus mitigation protocols on infection rates at schools, hospitals, nursing homes, food processing plants, and beyond. Casey found that "infection rates in workplaces typically dropped from well above household rates to well below" when organizations better-implemented coronavirus safety guidelines over time.
When looking to recruit new talent, have an ideal candidate in mind. Consider who that ideal candidate could be and the kind of opportunities they might be pursuing. Then, find common ground among all organizations offering those types of opportunities and go against the grain. By breaking with market norms, your organization will stand out as an attractive place for new talent to work.
Organizations with an ideal candidate in mind think big picture. Older workers, for example, are widely unemployed and were hit harder by COVID-19. But, research suggests that older workers have higher productivity than their younger counterparts. Instead of recruiting from the same pool of candidates with the same credentials, consider looking for talent where others are not.
Krishen Iyer is the founder and president of MAIS Consulting Firm. A California-based entrepreneur, the firm is located in Encinitas but has a national reach to health and dental insurance clients across the country. MAIS Consulting builds on Iyer's nearly two-decades-long expertise working with insurance sales, contracting, and marketing. Outside of MAIS Consulting, Iyer also runs the Iyer Real Estate Company, a full-service property management company dedicated to helping individual owners market their rental properties and grow their customer base.
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