The Labor Shortage: 4 Concrete Tactics to Combat Employee Turnover and Source Staff
The dreaded labor shortage.
Whatever industry you’re in, you’re probably facing a swell of attrition, as 41% of the global workforce considers quitting.
That thought keeping you up at night?
Wondering what you can do about it?
I’ve got you covered.
Here are four tactics with actionable steps to secure good talent, increase employee satisfaction, reduce turnover, and develop a thriving workforce. (And help you get some shut-eye.)
#1: Overcome the Labor Shortage by Defining Your Company
In the 2022 labor market, employees don’t want to be a cog in the wheel. They want (and expect) companies to establish a sense of purpose in which they can partake. According to McKinsey:
89% of employees at all levels within an organization want purpose in their lives
70% of employees report their sense of purpose being largely defined by their work
This means your company can’t afford an identity crisis.
Who are you as a company and what are you offering employees? How can you provide them with that sense of purpose?
As shared by Doug Johnson, President of Valor Partners, who works with enterprise software executives to identify and recruit executive leaders and build best-in-class sales and marketing teams:
“People are attracted to mission, so make sure your mission is consistent from all those involved in the interview process. Outline your company’s vision for future growth, illustrating where you are and where you aspire to go.”
Here’s how you can use purpose-driven culture to overcome the labor shortage:
Communicate your company’s short- and long-term business goals, and illustrate how they and your corporate values complement each other. You want your employees to care about your business and see its potential.
Outline and share the steps the company will take to achieve those goals, if you haven’t already. They don’t have to be set in stone, but laying out a plan will help employees understand the company’s direction.
Foster an atmosphere that encourages engagement on a departmental and individual level. Maybe this is something as simple as an office lunch or company volunteering opportunity, or perhaps it’s providing avenues to suggest improvements to business practices across different departments.
Publicize your corporate culture and values. Share them in your all-hands meetings, on your website, through social media, and in your job postings. Don’t be shy.
#2: Beat the Worker Shortage by Reaffirming the Importance of the Individual
Communicating company values is important, but that’s not the end of the story.
Keep your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment, paying attention to individual personalities, goals, and work styles.
What matters to one person may not matter to another, so your retention strategy cannot be one-size-fits-all. Tailor it to the individual and where that person is in the employee lifecycle.
Let’s talk specifics, starting with some actionable tips and insights from Johnson and other members of the ToolsGroup community.
If You’re Talking to Current Employees:
You’ve already got direct access to a talent pool, so start with improvements you can make to the current employee experience.
Do Temperature Checks to Retain Talent
Don’t underestimate the importance of a 1:1 conversation, and help employees feel at ease providing honest feedback. They may say things you don’t want to hear, but it’s better you hear it in the office than see it on a job review site.
Sarah Voorhees, VP of Demand and Inventory Planning at American Tire Distributors, is one such leader who emphasizes the importance of individual check-ins:
A 1:1 conversation can be intimidating, though, especially if the person has sensitive concerns. Employees are not always eager to share negative feedback with leadership.
Give them the opportunities to do so comfortably through eNPS, anonymous 360 surveys, or other employee engagement tools. And remember to monitor those review sites.
Be Intentional About Career Paths and Develop Upskill/Reskill Opportunities
In one survey, 74% of those who hadn’t received upskilling or reskilling training would prefer to work for a company that offers those opportunities.
Give your employees the chance to broaden their skill sets, and work with them on defining career goals.
John Vargas, VP of Planning and Allocation DAMBO at Guitar Center, explains how critical it is to focus on professional growth and outline that career journey:
Employee Recognition Goes a Long Way
52.5% of employees want more recognition from their immediate manager, so celebrate the victories and recognize individual contributions.
(Side note: organizations with sophisticated recognition programs are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes, and they have 31% lower voluntary turnover. Hint, hint, wink, wink.)
So take time to acknowledge how each employee’s role benefits the company and the employee community.
Take another page from Johnson’s playbook:
If the Worker Shortage Has You Hiring New Talent:
According to Johnson, “All it takes is for someone in the organization to say: Hey candidate, you’re going to make a difference at this company. Tell me what’s important to you! Demonstrate that you’re invested in helping them participate in the company’s success while providing what matters to them.”
And since 31% of employees quit within six months of starting, first impressions are important.
Use the interview process to understand your candidate’s aspirations and expectations and to communicate growth potential from the get-go.
Create a smooth onboarding process. Pair new employees with mentors, facilitate connections with different departments, and continually check in to see how things are going.
If You Have to Say Farewell:
You win some…you lose some. But an employee’s departure is still an important opportunity to collect information that could be advantageous later on.
Conduct an exit interview. Gather that feedback and make sure you’re taking it into account when considering your best practices.
Don’t leave remaining employees in a lurch. Communicate backfilling or re-organizational plans, and make time to offboard responsibilities and fill in any knowledge gaps left by departing employees.
No matter who’s on the other side of the table, open up those lines of communication. Find out what employees value as part of their professional development, work/life balance, and benefits, and go from there.
While each organization and individual is different, here are some of the current trends to keep in mind when it comes to benefits.
#3: Overcome the Staff Shortage by Supporting a Remote Workforce
The times, they are a’changin’, and so are workplace expectations.
Expectations like flexible and remote working.
Gen Z and Millenials are far more likely to favor remote or hybrid working situations over traditional 9-5 stints in an office. (As one of those pesky millennials who has thoroughly embraced the flexible, remote working situation, I can attest to this.)
But it’s not just the younger half of the workforce.
Roughly half of workers above the age of 57 are also eyeing those work-from-home opportunities, and 73% want a flexible work schedule.
If you don’t adopt flexible and remote options, you may end up struggling to backfill positions of recent (or not-so-recent) departures.
Plus, you could be missing out on great talent that isn’t local.
But many employers are worried about this shift. And understandably so.
They may be unsure how best to manage remote teams, foster leadership, bolster engagement, or boost productivity without knocking on an office door or having those hallway conversations. We are social beings, after all.
Here’s what you can do:
Set up recurring individual and team check-ins. Keep them short and sweet, and encourage people to keep their cameras on and get some face time in with their coworkers.
Don’t let your company vision stagnate. Have all-hands meetings to update employees on the company’s goals and outline next steps. Call out particular department and employee contributions.
“Give individual contributors stretch assignments and present these to leadership. This showcases employees’ contributions and will make up for those conversations you’re not having in the hallway. It also ensures employees with high potential see the value of staying and continuing to grow at your company.” (Another great tip from Sarah Voorhees!)
Set up organizational tools to manage projects and group tasks and to facilitate communication so everyone is on the same page – without feeling like Big Brother is watching.
#4: Encourage Staff to Find Their Workplace Zen
It’s been a tough couple of years.
One study revealed that 40% of respondents listed burnout as a top reason for leaving their jobs.
Don’t let this happen to you. Take steps to protect your team from burnout.
Here’s what you can do:
Book that vacation. Encourage employees to take PTO, and lead by example. If you take days off, employees will feel more comfortable taking time to recharge. You’ll all come back more energized and productive.
Take a breather. Make sure your employees have ways to reduce stress in the workplace.
Reduce frustration by investing in the right tools for the job. Whether you’re implementing automation or embracing digital transformation, invest in technology to support your people, and train your employees to use these systems effectively.
Trying to manage a complex supply chain manually?
A Win-Win Situation: The Right Workforce Retention Strategy Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game
Maybe you’re a manager or executive looking at these suggestions, rubbing your brow, and thinking, “That’s a lot of give, give, give.”
But these strategies don’t just benefit your employees; they’ll set your company up for success as well.
In addition to overcoming labor shortages, here are some of the benefits of implementing these policies:
Improving Employee Retention and Satisfaction
Loyalty: Over 40% of workers said their company loyalty would increase if benefit options were customized to their individual needs.
Retention: 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if it offered skills training opportunities.
Increasing Productivity, Efficiency, and Skill Sets
Know-How: Holding on to long-time employees helps limit the loss of industry and company-specific expertise and knowledge.
Adaptability: One survey found that companies with successful reskilling programs believed they were better able to address skill gaps caused by technical disruptions and implement new business models or strategies.
Attracting Top Talent
The Workplace Classroom: 68% of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job.
Company Growth: Companies rated highly on flexible work arrangements saw 137% higher headcount growth.
Boosting Brand Trust – And Your Bottom Line
Consumer Confidence: A strong, experienced employee base can boost consumer trust in your brand. You’ll have more employees who know your company, know your product, and can provide a consistent customer experience.
Employer Reputation: In an era of Indeed and Glassdoor reviews, word gets around. Having a reputation for valuing employees can give you a competitive edge in the hiring process.
ROI: One workforce training program focused on soft skills delivered a 250% return on investment.
Cost Savings: Employers spend an average of 33% of a worker’s annual salary to replace just one employee.
Balancing the Needs of Your Business while Attracting Talent
Listen, every company is different.
There may be changes you can make easily; there may be others that are less feasible.
But it’s important to think about where you’re willing to adapt your retention and hiring strategies to these shifting workforce trends.
I’ll leave the final takeaway to Doug Johnson:
“Here’s the biggest thing companies need to keep in mind right now: People are gravitating towards those organizations they feel genuinely value them. It only takes a little effort to make that happen. It makes a huge difference to your employees and to your company.”