Four companies we’ve spoken to this month told us they’ve had the hardest time filling vacant positions recently. They were starting to think the problem was with them. It’s not.
The market is that tight right now. Many are finding themselves in bidding wars to lure job candidates. Others are dealing with new hires quitting unexpectedly in pursuit of better offers. One organization we connected with shared that three of their brand new hires just up and quit within a span of 5 weeks, all accepting other jobs.
Today’s severe staff shortages are taking a big hit on the bottom line.
One member of our team came across a McDonald’s restaurant in Quebec this past week that had to close its doors on a Saturday because three employees all called in sick! They just didn’t have enough staff to keep their establishment running.
If you are experiencing similar woes, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. The Huffington Post reported this month: “Canadian businesses are having a historically hard time finding employees.” Another study by ManpowerGroup found 41% of Canadian employers report struggling to fill open positions.
So what is an HR/hiring manager to do?
The first steps for all of us are to release hiring and people management philosophies we may have previously thought were infallible, and examine the real instigating factors behind today’s severe staff shortages:
- Over-worked employees don’t stick around: There is a critical distinction between maximizing employee productivity and over-working them. In our work culture, this line is blurred way too often. When a team is short-staffed, other employees step up and manage the workload. When they appear to cope with the status quo, managers often decide that there’s no need to further staff up to previous levels. We must remember however that most people are often willing to work harder – but to a point. Yes, in the short-term, they may pick up the extra work. In the not too distant future however, they will leave (and in today’s jobseeker marketplace, they’re likely to leave immediately).
- An unexpected cost to automation: In today’s tech-integrated, AI-focused workplace, automation represents significant efficiencies and cost-savings for companies. It can also mean fewer staff managing the company’s operations. The potential and sudden loss of such staff quickly becomes much more critical, and represents a bigger hit to a company’s bottom line. Case in point: The McDonald’s restaurant that had to close on a critical weekend day because too many of their team members called in sick. Note as well: over-worked employees as cited above, face a greater chance of getting sick, making absenteeism a much greater company concern.
- Employee expectations: Gone are the days when companies could expect employees to be attached at the hip to their work and their email, responding with 24/7 availability. That may have been the reality of Gen Xers in the past for example, but today’s Millennial generation values the notion of working to live. Imposing outdated expectations on them in today’s landscape means, they will simply leave. Opportunities are available to them everywhere right now! If they can make more money and find positions that are less stressful mentally, and less straining physically – they’ll take it. We must remember that many workers today (regardless of what generation they’ve come from) have great work ethic and are happy to put in extra time, but it has to be on their own terms. If they’re forced to do it, they’ll disconnect.
- Tenure is a thing of the past: Senior-level job titles and more money alone no longer command tenure from today’s workforce. Companies need to think about what they offer by way of: valuable training, and meaningful opportunities to contribute. Today’s “total package” means working somewhere that is close to home, loving the work they do, feeling challenged and appreciated. If all these factors are present, people are more likely to stick. Still, HR and hiring managers need to let go of the hope of having an employee last 10 years, or even 5 years. This is not a reasonable expectation any more. In today’s work culture, employees want to come in, work hard to gain valuable experience, and then get out and try something else. Filling a vacant position for a year or two – today, means you’re already profitable and ahead of the game.
- Training: We tend to have an intolerance for training nowadays for job candidates who are starting in new positions. Somehow, the normal expectation has become that we want every new employee to hit the ground running from Day 1. But, having a position vacant for 3 months, 6 months, or even a year because the right person wasn’t found, can represent some huge “invisible” losses to the bottom line as it places greater burdens on current employees. There’s an economic imbalance here. Investing in someone’s training however – even if they remain on the job for a year or two can still be a winning formula for many companies. We must remember that staff shortages have reverberating and detrimental impacts on the entire organization.
Imagine for a moment: Employee X is hired and given training that cost the company $30K in the first year. In that first year however, Employee X also produces $30K, effectively giving back what was invested. If Employee X quits after year one, while the company has broken even, a greater win has taken place by way of other team members not feeling over-worked or stressed in the process. They may even feel further supported by Employee X. And if Employee X remains for another year, there are gains all around.
The greatest lesson here is this: Given today’s jobseeker market, to succeed, HR and hiring managers need to take more chances on people, and build out their offerings based on what resonates most with today’s jobseekers. We just can’t be as picky today as we have been in the past. The employment game has shifted, and we need to get on-board with today’s new reality.
Having an expert team by your side to help recruit and keep the right talent has become more important than ever before. We’re working hard to fill many of our client’s vacant positions in both French/Bilingual and English-only capacities. We would be pleased to serve your needs as well.
Contact us today by phone at: 416-236-3303, or by email at: [email protected]. We look forward to speaking with you!