Businesses are struggling to find people to fill positions at all levels and departments with qualified staff who will be reliable and show up.
“If you are an employer struggling to find workers, ask yourself what you could be doing different,” advised Midway Area Chamber of Commerce and south Minneapolis resident Chad Kulas. “Can you look at other job boards? Ask different people if they know anyone? Have you considered hiring people with disabilities? What incentives can you offer that will last? Culture has become a very important priority to attract and maintain employees. What are you doing to make sure you have a great culture?”
“Employees want flexibility, good pay and benefits,” pointed out Kara Sime of Your HR Navigator. “In addition, I see employees ask about and expect a positive work environment, more than in the past.”
Current job openings are offering more incentives and many are focusing on flexibility, Kulas pointed out. “The ability to work remotely is now very common and seen by many as a perquisite for applying. I’ve also seen unlimited PTO, though I’ve also heard employees who have it oftentimes take less days off.”
He added, “Flexibility is the biggest thing – and actually was even before the pandemic. For over 10 years I’ve heard employers talk about the shift from employees prioritizing their paycheck to prioritizing the work-life balance. Employees really value time off and the flexibility to get the job done when it fits them best. If they need to take their kid or aging parent to a doctor’s appointment, they want a boss who understands they can work earlier or later that day.
“While this trend has been going on for years, the pandemic certainly made it bigger. Now if your kid is sick or you or a family member was COVID-exposed, employers need to understand you may need to alter your schedule on the fly.”
While more employees want to be remote or have more work flexibility to be remote more often, more employers are pulling people back into the office, observed Sime. “So, there is going to be a disconnect here at some point. And, in my opinion from 25 plus years of professional experience, I think our pendulum had to swing way over to remote work because of COVID-19, but it swung so far to one side it has to swing back to a middle ground where some live and in-person work is needed. It is true that there just are some things that need to be done in-person or are more effective live where non-verbals can be seen and accounted for in the conversation.
“In addition, as human beings, we have a physical need to be with and interact with other humans, so I can see that employers who stay with remote workers are going to have to get very creative with the structure and plan new interactions and ways of connecting with the other humans in the workplace.”
To draw people in, some businesses are offering incentives for those who are there in person.
“They might offer free food and drink, or games like ping pong, pool, darts. These ideas were all popularized by tech firms in Silicon Valley years ago,” remarked Kulas. “I’m also seeing more opportunities for team bonding; this is becoming more important when some employees never or rarely see their coworkers. I’ve witnessed many times two people meeting for the first time even though they work for the same company and have for months or even years. With employees more scattered and working at home, finding ways to bond the team are more important.”
Sime primarily works with small to medium-size businesses. Some are offering referral bonuses for employees to make qualified referrals. Others are offering sign-on bonuses – some for all positions, and some for really key positions that are core to the business or need special skills and training.
TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS
“For employers, find the right balance of getting the bottom line you want and maintaining happy employees,” recommended Kulas. “With a tight job market, employees and job seekers have the upper hand in negotiation, so make sure you’re treating your employees the way they want to be treated. If you can create a great work culture, you have a leg up on others. Also, don’t be afraid to change what you’re doing and find uncommon solutions. The world changes and you need to adapt.”
“I wish there was a silver bullet or a top three list of things to do, but there isn’t,” said Sime. “Main tips, however, are to actually live and create a healthy workplace for people. Treat your employees as you want your children to be treated when they venture out into the work world. We spend one-third of our life at work, so employers should focus on employee well-being overall – helping employees to be successful people in the world will pay dividends at work with productivity, loyalty, happiness and engagement. This benefits the company, the employee and the community at large. While creating this intentional and healthy culture takes time and effort, this attracts and retains people better than any hiring bonus.”
TIPS FOR EMPLOYEES
“For employees, the past few years have made many people rethink the type of job they want,” remarked Kulas. “While this means you should also be thinking of the type of work you want to do, job loyalty means more than ever. You will be appreciated if you stay at your current job, and the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. While you should look for better fits, don’t just leave because you think you can find a slightly better spot.
“Think about the future of that particular job. What does it look like in 10 years? Twenty? Can you do it for the rest of your working life? Will a machine replace it?”
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