Now that Americans have received another round of economic stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits of $300 per week have been extended to September, will unemployed workers–especially in low-wage industries–be in any rush to return to work?
Many employees are still juggling the needs of their school-age children or elderly relatives while also trying to find time to get themselves and others they care for vaccinated. Because of the heavy demands on their schedule, many can’t return to work until the world is healthy again and regains some level of normalcy or certainty. Until then, recruiters will continue to struggle.
“This has put tremendous pressure on employers to find talent that is motivated to work,” says David Kopsch, principal of Mercer Career Business.
Last month, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.2% to 6%. That’s down considerably from 14.7%, its recent high in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on BLS’ latest jobs report, 4.2 million workers have been jobless for 27 weeks or more; 1.9 million for five to 14 weeks, and 2.2 million for less than five weeks. The number of workers who want a job has remained unchanged at 6.9 million.
This is not an easy time for recruiters in many industries, ranging from retail to manufacturing.
But there are still levers they can pull to attract talent. Besides ensuring that your pay scale is competitive within your industry and marketplace, Kopsch suggests analyzing how much revenue your company receives (per full-time equivalent) when someone is in the warehouse or store. Does it make sense to raise wages for these jobs?
Likewise, he says, consider offering 401(k)s, discounted products or modifying work schedules around employee availability. Pay premium wages during surge times or when others are not willing to work. A bonus program can also help draw and retain workers. But keep it simple, such as a bonus for perfect weekly attendance. If strategies are too complex, he says, it could have the opposite effect and de-incentivize employees.
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Another option is offering benefits to employees who would otherwise not receive them. Seed or help fund a health savings account. Even voluntary benefits like “pawternity” insurance, designed for people with pregnant dogs or cats, can also persuade some job candidates to come on board.
“It comes down to an understanding of what your people value,” he says, adding that the core of attracting and retaining workers is developing a compelling experience. “It’s important to think about your talent as an opportunity to capitalize, not amortize. Now’s the time for HR to maximize employees’ abilities and skills.”