For anyone who’s been trying to fill out their hourly workforce, it’s no surprise that the nation is in a talent crunch. It’s harder than ever to staff open positions—especially when it comes to finding the right people with the skills you need to stay competitive.
This is especially true for industries that rely on hourly employees, like warehousing, fulfillment, and the hospitality industry.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 62 percent of companies looking to fill white-collar roles were having trouble finding qualified workers. By September, the number had decreased by 8 percent. In contrast, companies relying on manual hourly workers are having a more difficult time filling their open positions, with a 9 percent increase in the number of companies reporting that it was very difficult to find the right candidates. 14
Not only are we in the midst of an hourly hiring crunch, but both the workforce and workplaces are undergoing dramatic changes. Workers have new priorities, higher expectations, and more control in selecting the companies they want to work for. And for workplaces, increased competition and a rising need for technical skills are making it harder to hire.
At Bluecrew, it’s our goal to help businesses adapt to the changing landscape in the ways that they recruit and retain the talent they need to stay competitive and profitable. When you understand the changes that are occurring, you can shift your strategies to better align with the needs of your workers, as well as the needs of your business.
Read on to see a sample of our latest piece, The Future of Hourly Talent and Hiring.
Understanding the future of hourly talent starts with identifying the factors that are driving change. While there are a number of issues, the two most important considerations are changing expectations and increased competition for workers.
There have been significant shifts in needs and expectations, both for employers and workers. Employers, for instance, are embarking on projects to increase digitization for workplaces so that they can adapt to changes in the marketplace. They’re also facing changes to their business models in light of increased needs for warehousing, eCommerce, and fulfillment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers, on the other hand, are not facing the pressures that have traditionally motivated them to seek hourly employment. Thanks to healthy unemployment benefits and stimulus checks through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, workers aren’t compelled to undertake low-paying or otherwise imperfect jobs.
Every business leader recognizes the importance of dealing with talent issues, including recruitment, retention, and ongoing training. Indeed, coaching to improve employee performance is a top-ten issue for U.S. CEOs in 2021, while recruiting and retaining top talent is an absolute number one—not just in the U.S., but globally, as well. 11
However, business leaders also feel that they aren’t finding the top talent they need for their businesses to thrive. In fact, only 27 percent of business leaders in supply chain organizations feel that they have the talent to sufficiently maintain their current supply chain, let alone to staff for future needs. 5
The labor market has always been competitive, but the level of competition has reached new heights in 2021. There is significant competition for qualified hourly talent, which means that workers have the leverage to more carefully determine the positions they’re willing to take and which companies they want to work for.
Leaders frequently cite the impact of the American Rescue Plan, which has provided potential workers with stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits that provide greater financial security. This has made it more difficult for companies to hire new talent and pushed employers to raise the wages they offer, since unemployment payments can be higher than minimum wage. It has also led to some employers hiring “on the spot” and removing barriers to entry like in-person interviews and drug screening6 in favor of getting people on the job.
In response to this competition, many companies are looking to make their positions more attractive. About 30 percent of small businesses have increased wages for entry-level jobs, and others are offering additional benefits, including signing bonuses, flexible schedules, and other incentives. Still, 42 percent of businesses have had trouble filling their open positions. 8
Not only has hiring become more competitive, but the skills employers value most have changed. As companies embrace new processes and technologies, the skills and experiences they need to operate effectively are constantly evolving to match their business priorities. Jobs that were once considered to be almost exclusively manual are requiring more familiarity and comfort with technology.
One of the lasting impacts of COVID-19 is that it accelerated changes that were already occurring in the workplace. Most significantly, automation has increased dramatically as companies sought to cut costs and maximize efficiencies.
As a result, many jobs lost to the pandemic aren’t coming back. Even industries like warehousing, which have boomed during the pandemic, are experiencing a shift in demand for technical skills due to increased automation. 10 While hiring needs for warehousing and fulfillment remain high, the jobs and skills themselves are evolving.
However, increasing demands for technical skills make it more challenging to find the right candidate for the job, even when recruiting from within. This not only makes retaining your current employees more important than ever but also requires employers to be more invested in workforce development and training, helping to upskill both current employees and train new hires to meet demands.
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