It’s a new year but, unfortunately, old HR recruiting problems still exist. The current tight labor market has reached a crisis point as employees continue to leave their jobs in droves just as companies are experiencing a rapid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and need them more than ever. According to a recent CNBS/Momentive Workforce Survey, half the nation’s employees describe their workplaces as understaffed. That 50% of employees in understaffed offices is almost twice as likely as employees in adequately staffed offices to admit they’ve considered leaving their jobs in the last three months. The survey reports that overall, 33% of employees say they’ve seriously considered resigning in recent months. Those numbers are staggering and point towards the labor market getting even tighter in 2022, not better.
Understanding the reasons for the labor shortage is complicated, but most analysts agree the situation stems from a profound change in the worries, challenges and priorities for employees resulting from almost two years of dealing with the pandemic. The situation is putting an additional strain on employers, recruiters and other HR staff. Here’s a deeper dive into some employee concerns, challenges and priorities that could help employers better equip themselves to effectively deal with the labor shortage and make some recruiting resolutions in the new year.
As much as we would all like to leave the pandemic behind, COVID-19 and its variants are still a major concern to most people. First Delta and now Omicron. We are all wondering what variant is next and whether this will ever end. It will end, but employers must recognize this very real present fear and take prudent measures to allay those fears among current and potential employees.
Jobvite, developer of an applicant tracking software and recruiting platform, conducted a recent 2021 survey of roughly 1,500 adults in the U.S. to gain awareness of the current state of the U.S. workforce and published its findings in its 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report. The report’s data provides interesting insight into the prevalence of Covid-19 fear and points to exposure to Covid-19 as a principal concern for job seekers. Almost 60% of the 1,500 respondents stated they’d turn down a job offer if the employer didn’t have clear Covid-19 health and safety protocols in place. The same 60% stated they’ve specifically inquired about prospective employers’ Covid-19 safety measures. Masks in the workplace figured prominently in the responses.
About 55% of respondents stated they have or would decline a job offer if the employer didn’t have a mask mandate requiring all employees to wear masks in the workplace. Predictably, vaccine mandates were a divisive issue among respondents with about 50% stating they think employers should require employee vaccinations and 36% opposing vaccine mandates in the workplace. Of the 36% against mask mandates in the workplace, half stated they would not get a vaccine even if the employer provided incentives to do so.
Recruiting Resolution #1
Treat candidates as real people with legitimate concerns and not just a commodity with a desired skill set. Clearly, workplace safety is at the forefront of employees’ minds, and employers should be discussing Covid safety measures with prospective employees. Deal with potential candidate safety concerns head on by explaining how the company is safely bringing employees back into the workplace and staying on top of recent pandemic developments including dealing with new variants.
Address hybrid work arrangements and how the company is keeping remote employees engaged and part of the team. Explain the company’s position on mask and vaccine mandates. Provide information on sick leave policies and how the company is dealing with Covid positive employees and others who have been exposed to Covid. Tell candidates about any free vaccination or testing programs in place. Provide candidates periodic updates on any changes to corporate policy or Covid safety measures. Finally, provide candidates the opportunity to ask questions and be transparent and thorough in responses.
Lack Of Access To Child Care
Even though vaccination rates are rising, and Covid-19 fatalities are declining, we are in no way out of the woods with the pandemic continuing to have major economic and public health consequences. One segment of the economy that has been hit particularly hard is child care causing a devastating rippling effect. Most parents work and do not have access to a full-time, stay-at-home caregiver. Families have been forced to cobble together solutions to inadequate child care that are not sustainable.
Without access to child care, the U.S. economy cannot fully operate. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey collected in April 2021 and May 2021 found that roughly 6.5 million families with children report experiencing child care disruptions in the four weeks preceding the survey. Most respondents addressed this disruption by attempting to care for their child(ren) while working their job at home. The survey reported that, on average, approximately one quarter of respondents took paid (23.4%) or unpaid (23.6%) leave or cut work hours (26%) to care for their children. Obviously, taking unpaid and paid leave and cutting working hours to care for children isn’t a satisfactory solution and is adding to the national labor shortage crisis. Not only are employees impacted, everyone who depends on them is too, hurting businesses and restricting broader economic growth.
Recruiting Resolution #2
Prioritize work-life initiatives. Candidates are seeking a family-friendly workplace with policies and procedures aimed at providing a healthy work-life balance. Not only do family-friendly policies attract, motivate and retain desirable employees, they result in a healthier, more focused and productive workforce. Candidates want to know what a company is doing to help them fulfill both their work and family obligations now and post-pandemic. Employers should explain to candidates how they’ve identified their workforce’s most pressing needs and the policies and procedures in place to address those needs. Flexible work arrangements should top the list of family-friendly initiatives. Flexible work arrangements, once in the not-so-distant past considered a perk, are now considered a necessity to candidates.
The ability to work remotely heavily influences a candidate’s decision to accept or reject a job offer, particularly for individuals with children. Explain to candidates flexible work arrangements in place, how many employees participate and how the arrangements have benefited employees during the pandemic. Explaining any challenges faced when implementing flexible work arrangements during the pandemic is a meaningful recruiting tactic that shows the company cares about its employees and is eager to address any problems and issues head on even if that means completely changing course.
Explain any family leave policies intended to help working parents during major life crises such as caring for an ailing parent and everyday inconveniences like needing to take time off for a child’s doctor’s appointment. Temporary or emergency corporate child care programs are a huge draw to working employees as are breastfeeding rooms and child care subsidies. Candidates also want to hear that the company is staying on top of best practices in their industry and is open to suggestions for other family-friendly policies.
Recruiting Resolution #3
Engage with Smart HR to ensure you attract, hire and retain the best talent out there. Job candidates have done a lot of soul searching over the past two years resulting in a completely changed labor market. Employees want more autonomy over their lives and know they have a choice when deciding on an employer. Candidates who once inquired about office amenities are now asking about hybrid work arrangements, paid time off and dependent benefits. Are you ready to answer those questions? Resolve you are going to start the new year on the right foot, and call Smart HR today.