The labor shortage in the U.S. is an urgent national concern. As of July 2022, USCC counted 11 million job openings but only 6 million unemployed workers, and many companies are struggling to maintain their level of productivity. While moving forward is a challenge, fortunately navigating the labor shortage is possible if companies assess the problems ahead. Let’s take a closer look below.

The Labor Shortage

At first glance, surveys tell us that unmet labor needs from wage, benefits, and work culture are the main reasons why Americans turn down work. Articles point towards the recent pandemic as the period when many chose to leave their jobs, and now find little motivation to return. This is because workers want to focus on family life, manage their own businesses, and build enough savings with better-paying jobs.

Others have been forced to go into early retirement permanently. When looking at the labor shortage from a top down view, it’s clear that there is a noticeable pattern.

In the mid-2000s, 67 percent of the population were working or looking for a job. The percentage began to fall in 2010 and by 2016, was below 63 percent. This 4 percent drop was the equivalent of 14 million workers. Connecting the dots, Forbes notes the baby-boom generation that was born between 1945 and 1962 began to reach retirement age in 2010, aggravated by the 2008-09 recession, and this drop has continued since.

What this means is that beyond working conditions, aging demographics have held down any gains in overall workforce participation.

What Can Be Done?

The weight of the demography on the workforce will likely persist due to the baby boomer generation exiting the workplace. However, there are steps that companies can take on a micro scale to alleviate the effects of the labor shortage.

With the right strategies, companies can ride out the labor shortage. Network at Every Opportunity

To address the labor shortage, one thing we can do is go back to the basics of building relations through networking. This means having your company engage in community efforts and events with outside organizations.

Networking doesn’t just end at finding new employees. Under the Great Resignation, networking also means that companies need to take advantage of the Great Regret. The latest data shows that, months after the Great Resignation, many workers who voluntarily resigned are now looking for paths back to their own jobs hence why it is being called The Great Regret.

Keeping a good relationship with your old employees by establishing solid alumni networking, means that these boomerang employees could be onboarded much quicker.

Invest in Employee Education

Most workers want growth opportunities in the workplace. Part of our previous article on the 9 Critical Strategies stresses that a proper training program is key to attracting, and retaining, employees.

In The Spotlight

When paired with engagement programs, workers will not only see a future filled with development opportunities for themselves in the company, but also feel valued. They’ll be less likely to leave, and may even network to draw in more co-workers themselves.

Engage Older Employees

Because we are living longer and healthier, companies can entice older adults to stay longer in the workforce. This means adjusting to their needs, which could be well worth the investment as older workers have been shown to perform better than younger employees in various studies.

Beyond strengthening platforms for learning, companies can tailor benefits towards healthcare. This opens whole new opportunities when it comes to recruiting, as workers ages 55 and older are expected to rise from 12.7 percent in 1999 to 25.2 percent by 2029 in the U.S.

Engage Women

Similar principles apply when engaging women in the workforce. Many women left old jobs due to immense burnout: a combination of low pay, discriminating environments, and the need to focus on taking care of their families.

While the problem is systemic, companies can do their part by guaranteeing fair pay based on performance and reinforcing organizational policies against harassment. Providing generous daycare options can also be highly effective in encouraging women to join the company.

With the right strategies, companies can ride out the labor shortage. While certain demographic challenges may be inevitable, the right approach can ensure that your company's workforce comes out the other side stronger than it entered the labor shortage.


Callum Lyons
About The Author Callum Lyons
Callum Lyons has worked in the field of human resources for 5 years. During his free time, he takes on writing projects related to his passion for economics and politics.

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