What is a worker desert and how are companies adapting?
By Lee Hurley
It’s not a little ironic that a good economy has caused such a challenging issue: finding qualified employees to fill open jobs. The term “worker desert” is now being used to describe the problem. According to varying reports, there are more than a million jobs available than there are people to fill those jobs. That creates tension and can hurt a company’s bottom line by overpaying for labor and not delivering products and services on time. Manufacturing and construction are two main categories where a worker desert exists the most strongly and as expected they follow the states with the highest growth. “500,000 [manufacturing] jobs are still open in the United States and we can’t fill them,” Nicholas Pinchuk, CEO of toolmaker Snap-On, told CNBC. “Our factories have never had more hours.” Smart companies are adapting to worker deserts as best they can in various ways.
Luring back retirees
Some companies are going back to retirees and offering attractive and flexible schedules to get former employees and older workers to come back, even part-time.
While working on weekends is unattractive to many workers, some workers want as many hours as they can get. Without pressuring their best employees some companies are making it more profitable to take on a Saturday or two each month.
Adding locations where more labor exists
The worker desert situation has gotten so critical with some companies that they have opened new offices in other markets to recruit. According to Axios, Iowa-based Wells Enterprises, which makes Blue Bunny ice cream, opened new facilities across the country for the sole purpose of finding employees. The results were mixed.
Other ways good recruiters are helping companies find qualified candidates for jobs include emphasizing the benefits and perks of a particular business and having a good understanding of the company culture. And while using more money as an incentive is important, it has been proven time and again that contentment in the work environment is just as important as money. Seeking professional help in recruiting is a top strategy to combat the worker desert issue. Utilizing someone whose full-time job is to support the in-house HR team brings in a fresh perspective and helps find channels that others are too busy to explore.
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