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Beyond the Short Run: Employment Trends for Employers to Understand Now

Unemployment Benefits, a Red Herring

The brouhaha surrounding the contribution of unemployment benefits to the lack of workers willing to work is a red herring. Consider these real demographic trends, informational awareness trends and financial trends: (Sources: Pew Resource Center, Economic Policy Institute, Statista, NYT, etc.)

  1. Wages have been essentially stagnant for workers since the early 1980’s.

  2. Employment itself has gone down with more workers working as contractors with no employment security, benefits, or training.

  3. Productivity of the American worker has continued to improve. But the financial benefits of that productivity increase have accrued to the C-Suite and investment capital. American workers are working smarter and better but not seeing that reflected in their income.

  4. Individuals see starting their own businesses as the only way to get ahead. In 2020 a record of more than 800,000 businesses were started.

  5. People laid off due to the pandemic got used to having less and saving more.

  6. The expectation of employers that employees work in unsafe situations for meager compensation is not sustainable.

  7. Decreased immigration means fewer people to work in jobs that are unsafe, grossly underpaid, or abusive in some other fashion.

  8. #MeToo movement means that many women are unwilling to work in abusive, unsafe, or grossly underpaid situations.

  9. There is public knowledge regarding the lack of income tax paid by large corporations and extremely wealthy individuals.

  10. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers, looking for something better. Why? You know how, if you are thinking about selling your house, and then the market for housing goes crazy and you see that if you sell now, you will get top dollar? This is your chance to get out and find something better for you and your family. Employees see the same opportunity now.

What Can an Employer Do?

I have many friends in the human resources field who currently recruit. When I ask them if their employers understand that they finally have to improve the working conditions for their employees, the response is mixed. If you have a good recruiter you are working with, they should tell you the truth about what you need to do. Here is a starting list that will help you hire once you get these essential pieces in place:

  1. Pay more than your competition. Simple right? Find out what they pay their best people for a similar position and pay more. Think about it, why should someone come to work for you for less money? You may have to justify this up the line, remember, do you actually want employees?

  2. If you cannot pay more than your competition, prepare to hire people who fit personality-wise with the work you need done but who need on the job training. Offer free job training! Not really radical. Think about it, how can someone come into your organization as the ‘perfect fit?’

  3. Cut the job down to size. Have you been asking employees to do the job of multiple people? Reverse the trend Create jobs that are doable, with training. People know when they are doing the job of multiple people and it sets up a fake relationship.

  4. Create real job descriptions and hire based on those. The ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ job description gets you started on the wrong foot with employees. I know when I read a job description and it describes work for three people with wildly divergent skill sets and pays $40k/year, I just laugh. People apply, knowing that they are only going to do part of what is needed, and they will choose those parts based on what they are actually skilled at and able to do.

  5. Make sure you have a solid onboarding process.

  6. Increase or create retention strategies to keep your people. Deliberate turnover in this employment market may affect your ability to deliver to your customers. Case in point, the airlines that are canceling flights because they do not have the employees they need to fly. Probably too lean, IMHO.

If you would like help with understanding where your company is regarding hiring and retention or you already know you want outside help to improve your process, contact me for a free Discovery Session today. The sooner we get started, the sooner you will see the results of having staff that helps you serve your clients leading to stable and sustainable profitability.

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