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The Labor Shortage Still Persists, Learn What’s Working for Employers

Nov 29, 2022

During 2021 there was a labor shortage. Forty-eight million people quit their jobs. The rate is slowing down, but not by much. So where did they go? We have called this the “great reshuffling.” They retired, found another position better suited for their skills with their current employer, or switched industries. People are reshuffling for competitive pay, job flexibility and to prevent burnout. What does this mean for us? It means we have to be creative and offer different solutions for our workforce.

The Great Resignation (Reshuffling)

The great resignation and the labor shortage are intertwined. The labor force is shrinking. Over the past 12 months, the labor force has decreased by 3,000 in Lexington, Richland, and Fairfield counties. We’ve gone from 18,000 jobs a year ago to just over 21,000 this year. It’s coincidental that the labor shortage is the same number by which the labor force shrunk. It appears that some people aren’t just quitting their jobs and going home. They are going other places to work, choosing to work in a different industry, and some are even participating in the “gig economy.”

For the past year and a half from February 2020 to August 2022, the labor shortage has dropped by one percent. There are 2.75 million missing workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Where are they working now? Have we lost them in the mix? These are questions to which there are probably a million answers.

Attracting New Talent

Workforce development professionals, recruiters, and human resources professionals are all tasked with keeping critical roles in their businesses full. Prior to the pandemic, successful recruiting, training, and retaining of valuable employees looks very different than it does right now.

A few of the ways that organizations can attract new talent and improve retention is to look at reevaluating employee benefits. While doing so, look at who you are recruiting and how you are recruiting.

  1. Consider a succession plan to recruit a younger workforce to replace the aging workforce who will be retiring and taking their knowledge with them. Most employees aren’t looking to enter the workforce and stay in a position for the duration. Most companies offer a long-term rate of return that doesn’t mesh with younger generations and what they are looking for from an employer.
  2. Look at your employee wellness programs. Mental health wellness is one of the biggest things that employees say that they wish their employers offered as part of their benefit package.
  3. Allow employees to work remote as an option a few days a week, when possible. New research by Forbes shows that remote workers are happier, more engaged, and more productive.
  4. Another attractive option is to change work shifts to continental shifts, which allows teammates to have days off to take care of other needs.
  5. Personal growth plans are one of the biggest components that employers do, but they don’t advertise it. Younger employees want to know how they can become more valued with their skill set so they can fill more critical roles. Employers should include these next-step positions in their job postings.

Retaining Existing Internal Talent

According to the McKinsey report, 41% left their most recent job due to lack of upward mobility and 48% changed industries. Another alarming trend that is being seen is individuals in seasonal jobs aren’t returning to traditional employment.

  1. We must keep in mind our internal talent is a pipeline.
  2. Connect your current talent with positions that come available.
  3. For seasonal staff who prove themselves to be competent and build their skills; these individuals can become a permanent part of your team.

Best Practices Used By Midlands Employers

  1. Lexington Medical Center – pays for employee referrals
  2. Nucor – offers extra vacation time and paid parental leave
  3. MTC – utilizes registered apprenticeships, and leadership academies to develop high-potential employees
  4. Michelin – developed a tech scholar program where they hire students to work in part-time maintenance roles while taking classes at MTC.
  5. EMT Provider – outfits employees with branded clothing and has seen tremendous success having new employee leads develop from someone asking about the company after seeing the logo on their clothing.
  6. National Institute of Corrections – suggests tapping into Probation Pardon and Parole as a hiring resource.
  7. AvanTech – offers Uber gift cards for employees with car issues
  8. DSS – offers a rideshare program with Enterprise
  9. Minos Tech - offers debt reduction plans that can eliminate student debt or consumer debt.
  10. Nephron - got creative and had temporary employees in packing positions make their own schedule.
  11. SC Department of Corrections – has had success posting job openings to MTC’s job board.
  12. Prisma Health – uses apprenticeships and their tuition assistance program to help build pathways for entry-level employees to develop the skills they need to transition into more meaningful and higher paid career paths.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Internships are working for some organizations; however, there is a next step and that is an apprenticeship. With an apprenticeship, you can lock them in on the front end, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will stay and not go to one of your competitors later on. Not every company is built to take untrained people and place them in their production environment without interrupting their workflow. Your investment will either be made on the front end or the back end. The front-end investment will save you more money and the employee will see that you value them.

Making Postings Accessible

To improve the talent pool, don’t discourage your job applicants with your ad. Make your jobs more accessible so that applicants aren’t disqualifying themselves. Place any assistance you can provide at the top of your ad instead of the bottom. Post your position as a growing position. Promote your internal talent. Remember that your best recruiter is a happy employee. Some organizations even pay employees a referral bonus.

Top Ten Recruiting Tips to Help You Navigate a Sparse Workforce

  1. Offer employee wellness programs. Mental health wellness is one of the biggest things that employees say that they wish their employers offered as part of their benefit package.
  2. Personal growth plans are common, but be sure to use them to advertise openings.
  3. Offer career ladders and promote the career progressions in your job postings.
  4. Consider coming to an MTC employer engagement day to introduce your company and your openings to our students.
  5. No experience required… grow your own by hiring unskilled talent and use grant funds to cover the training costs.
  6. Promote your internal talent who have already proven they have the right fit and soft skills for your organization.
  7. Take advantage of pre-apprenticeship programs offered by MTC to get connected to students who are actively looking for employment.
  8. Internships give you a chance to fill an immediate need and provides a defined period of time you can use to evaluate a potential long-term employee for fit within your organization.
  9. Place any assistance you can provide to aid in an employee’s development at the top of your ad instead of the bottom.
  10. Remember that your best recruiter is a happy employee.

How Can MTC Help?

Apprenticeship programs, including leadership academies, help. By investing in these programs, you are telling employees they have high potential and growth opportunities at your organization. Grant funding is available to help offset the cost, and training can be customized for your organization.

View a webinar on this topic at MIDLANDSTECH.EDU/programs-and-courses/corporate/resources.