Labour shortage: How to attract people

A company is only as good as its people. But lately, it’s hard to find those people! Employment, from hiring and training, to retention and succession planning, has had its share of difficulties since the pandemic.

While other factors went into it, one of the major reasons for today’s labour market situation is how–during a time of isolation and global panic about health and well-being, both physical and mental–people reexamined their priorities. From where and how they spend their time, to the company they keep, employees began to look at their own values and how they could better meet their internal wants and needs. As a result, people quit or retired from their jobs. Others took the opportunity to retrain in an industry that was more suitable to their new priorities.

Add limited immigration due to COVID, and it has left a shortage of talent in certain sectors, including manufacturing, health care, food, construction, and sales.

Today it feels like everything has changed in the labour market–where people work, how people work and why people work. Companies are scrambling to catch up and fill roles that have been left vacant. With the ability for candidates to work remotely, job opportunities have no borders giving individuals more choices. As a result, many employers have discovered it’s a candidate’s market.

“I think a lot of people are still a bit hesitant to make a change. A lot of people, who felt their organization handled the pandemic well, are reluctant to make a change and want to stay put. On the other hand, many people who were laid off are a bit reluctant to go back to a company or industry that was not able to support them during the pandemic,” says Matt Erhard, managing partner of Summit Search Group in Winnipeg, Man.

As a result of the current market and this widespread shift in employees’ priorities, companies must make changes to how they recruit, and they need to adapt how they do business to ensure they’re focused on employee satisfaction.

“Employees want to be heard and have impact. When they go to work, they want to know what they are doing is making a difference,” says Tracy Arno, founder and CEO of Saskatoon’s Essence Recruitment Inc.

Here are some strategies to help improve the quantity and quality of resumes coming in and also encourage employee retention:

Be seen as an employer of choice. By creating a respectful brand that is known for a positive, employee-centric workplace, people will feel good about your company and want to work for you.

Become an employer of choice by offering the things employees are looking for, including:

  • a compensation package that is competitive and fair
  • a robust benefits plan that includes mental health support
  • open and honest two-way communication
  • flexibility in work hours, location, and responsibilities
  • professional development opportunities to learn and grow their skills
  • opportunities for advancement

Ensure your online presence is broad and thorough. Candidates are researching companies to identify whether it meets with their interests and values before applying, so keep your website and LinkedIn profile up to date. Encourage employees to write reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed. Executives can also be more approachable to potential employees by maintaining their own LinkedIn presence.

Be flexible on remote work. People want to be able to work from home all or some of the time now and that is not going away. “Companies who do not offer flexibility to work from home, when it’s a position that could be remote, miss out on 50 per cent of the available talent pool,” says Erhard.

Look internally. To help with talent acquisition, companies should also be prepared to train and develop current staff with transferable skills, encourages Arno.

Join forces. Companies can come together to recruit candidates at a job fair, or collaborate on compensation studies, training, and re-skill opportunities.

While it will always be challenging to recruit and retain excellent employees, if you create and foster a positive workplace where current employees are happy and candidates want to be, you can stand out from the crowd.