Recruitment & Staffing

Hiring Talent in Challenging Times

With unemployment at record highs, business leaders would assume it’s easy pickings when it comes to hiring. But with unemployment benefits also at record highs and anxiety about COVID-19 still lingering, the opposite is true. Right now, hiring staff, at almost any price, is difficult for even top tier employers.

Businesses offering $20 an hour for dishwashers can’t get a nibble; others are paying just for an interview. Finding talent in a difficult market may mean thinking outside the box, and looking for assistance where it’s available.

Work and collect

The Biden administration recognized some enhanced unemployment benefits may be contributing to the labor shortage and highlighted some help for business. They suggest two options: offering part-time work to those collecting benefits, keeping their hours under state requirements so the employee can still collect the enhanced local and federal unemployment benefits.

Another option offered is to create job-share opportunities. These allow workers to share a role, each at part-time, while continuing to collect their enhanced unemployment. Depending on the state, employees could receive a paycheck for working, a portion of their state unemployment benefit and full federal unemployment benefits.

Check your state unemployment requirements, then post your openings detailing workers will have no more than the maximum amount of hours scheduled so they will continue to be eligible for partial state and full federal unemployment compensation.

The clock is ticking

Enhanced unemployment benefits at the federal level will be phased out by September 6. Almost half the states have eliminated their own additional benefits, although a recent Court ruling against the state of Indiana may cause reversals. Whether your state is paying enhanced benefits or not, the clock is ticking. Your job postings could remind potential applicants they’re in a better position to get a good job now, rather than later.

After Labor Day, when benefits run out and kids are back in school full time, the competition for jobs should be fierce. Candidates may be able to pick and choose where they want to work now (and demand higher wages in the short-term), but after the benefits expire, they may have more difficulty landing the job they want. Your postings should emphasize benefits will expire soon and workers should ‘get the job you want now – before anyone else does.

Making a match, temporarily

You may be challenged to compete with unemployment benefits payments, but what is it costing your business to be short-staffed? A solution may be to match the benefit temporarily. Tell job seekers to bring in a copy of their latest u/c check so you can match their starting wage until the benefits run out. In September, revert workers back to normal pay. You’ll want to be clear and specific up front: on September 7, their salary goes down, but in the interim you’re willing to match what the government is offering.

Got friends?

A great resource for talent has always been internal referrals. Good employees with a strong work ethic tend to associate with like-minded individuals, so you’re ahead of the game already if they make a referral. Many companies are upping the ante: offering staff members a bonus for every hour a referral works. Some are offering $1-2 per hour for every hour the referral works, with a maximum of $1,000. You might want to go higher or lower, or even eliminate the cap, depending on your market.

Another resource is family members, particularly teens who have the summer off. If they’re of working age, encourage your staffers to bring your kid to work to actually work and get paid. They don’t have to worry about where their children are all summer; don’t have to worry about getting them to and from the job; and everyone gets a little extra spending money.

Leverage untapped resources

There are many resources in your area that can help: veterans groups; community and faith-based organizations; and those who work with the disabled are always looking to create partnerships with business to help people get in or back into the workforce. Look for these in your area. Many can help create training programs for potential employees and can be a limitless resource of potential hires at entry-level.

For skilled labor, veterans assistance groups can help find talent that has experience or training from military service that’s relevant to your business. A challenge for many employers is translating military jargon into private sector job titles. Welders, plumbers, HVAC professionals and electricians are all military-trained jobs that are easily transferred; but some more obscure military titles are applicable as well. Talk to your local veterans center about the skilled and unskilled positions you’re having difficulty filling. They likely have candidates that suit every need.

Appreciate what you have

An important note: don’t ignore existing talent. If you’re overpaying new hires, make sure to match that salary for current workers – even if only temporarily – or you may be looking to make even more new hires.

Hiring post-COVID presents a challenge for the largest business to the smallest. Creative thinking, looking for resources and perseverance will be necessary to recruit the best talent in your area.

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