Staffing – Where have all the workers gone?

It has become increasingly difficult for employers in most industries to maintain adequate staffing. Businesses are having to do more with fewer people. In some cases, businesses are choosing to close their doors due to not being able to find the help they need to keep their business running.

Why is it so difficult to find employees? There are multiple reasons. The baby boomer generation is well into their retirement ages. Gen Xers and Gen Yers don’t have the numbers to make up the difference. Millennials have either decided to run their own businesses, work part-time, or have opted to not enter the workforce and live in their parents basements.

Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that there are fewer people looking for work.

Good Employees? I am happy with just a heartbeat.

It used to be that you could put out an ad, get a number of qualified candidate, and hire the best one. Nowadays I don’t even worry if they are a good candidate, as long as they show up to work everyday I am happy.

Even when you can find a good candidate, you should feel fortunate if they stick around. Today, people have far more employment choices and therefore are far less dedicated to any one employer. Maintaining staffing levels in the age of the worker nomad can be frustrating.

Gone are the days of people staying at one job their entire career. The new norm is people who have multiple employers and frequently change jobs throughout their working career.

What do we do?

So, what do we do about our staffing when fewer people are looking for jobs and those that are will be less dedicated and more likely to leave?

Here are some tips for managing people under these new, more difficult circumstances:

  1. Treat all employees with dignity and respect. This may seem like a no-brainier but it’s not. It is easy to treat the good employees well, but not so easy with the marginal or down right bad employees. Regardless of what kind of worker they are you need to be even handed and respectful with all your employees. Word gets around quickly if an employer treats its people fairly or not. You can’t afford to treat anyone poorly and get a reputation as a lousy boss or a bad employer.
  2. Coach up your marginal employees. Whether you like it or not you need everybody. It is more important than ever to try to find ways to coach up marginal employees. Have one or two of your high performers become mentors to marginal employees. Hold them accountable but always encourage them. Help them to see the short and long term benefits of improved performance. Let them know that you are genuinely interested in their success.
  3. Show gratitude and understanding to employees when they find a new job. I know its hard to loose anybody, especially really good employees, but that doesn’t mean you need to treat them poorly on their way out. Always wish them well, and if they did a good job and gave you plenty of notice, let them know that the door is always open. In today’s work environment people tend to boomerang. If you treat them well when they are leaving they will be more likely to return if things don’t work out with their new employer.
  4. Treat the employees you have well. It is to difficult and costly to hire new employees. It is far easier to keep the ones you have. While managers don’t always have the ability to change compensation and benefits, it doesn’t mean we are without the ability to influence weather people stay or leave our companies. Show gratitude for the work your employees do. Let them know they are appreciated and their contributions make a difference. If you have the ability to allow flex scheduling be generous with your employees. Say thank you and take advantage of opportunities to reward everyone on your team that does a good job. Go out of your way to recognize employees efforts.
  5. Focus on the positive. As tough as it is to manage people these days you need to do your best to remain positive. Not just for your own well being, but also the well-being of your team. If you come to work frustrated and grumpy every day it will not inspire others. Maintain a positive outlook and keep focused on the things that are going right. Allow our attitude to make others want to do their best and feel good about working with you.

Today’s workforce can be unpredictable, entitled, and fickle. Employees are no longer dedicated to a single employer throughout their career. The workforce has shrunk and will continue to be very competitive. These are the new realities we face and they aren’t going to change anytime soon. So instead of digging in your healing and feeling sorry for yourself you need to adjust and adapt. By focusing on ways that you can create a positive work place, focused on the success of each team member, you will have a better chance of maintaining staffing and attracting new talent.

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