Workforce Attraction Toolkit: Beating the Workforce Woes
Friday, October 12, 2018
By Golden Shovel Agency
Worker scarcity permeates almost every conversation in political and economic development circles. For the last three fiscal quarters, analysts predicted the unemployment rate reached the lowest possible level; now, analysts wonder how low the rate can actually drop.
One headline earlier this year stated “2018 Too Many Jobs and Not Enough Workers”. At the most basic level, this defines the problem communities’ face.
Tight labor conditions have always existed in specific sectors. For example, shortages of programmers created difficulties for software companies. But programmer shortages didn’t affect retail or light manufacturing or healthcare.
The difference with this tight labor market is that every sector has a worker shortfall: it is a people problem not a job skills or training program. When there is a lack of specific skills, training increases the worker supply in a couple years. But the incubation period for new workers is 20–25 years… providing birth rates dramatically increase!
Brain gain, luring workers to the rural areas, affordable housing, low crime and slower pace
In the United States, moving workers around is the only short-term solution. However, rural parts of the county have another twist to the people shortage—brain loss. Or, said another way, a lack of people creates less diversity of ideas and entrepreneurship.
Rural communities who cannot fill light manufacturing jobs and retail jobs face a disadvantage to grow organic business ideas. Communities need the high school graduates to come back with their knowledge, experience and great ideas.
But are workers impossible to find?
A man frantically searched an area under a street lamp. A passerby asked, “What are you looking for?”
The man replied, “I am looking for my car keys that I lost over there.”
“Why are you looking here?”
The man replied, “Because the light is better under the lamp.”
Communities and small employers facing this crisis rely on previous methods of job recruitment. The tried and true formula consists of job postings, resume reviews, interviews and hiring.
This formula produces lackluster results today because of the efficiency of job seekers. Consider the following observations:
People are actively looking for jobs
- 76% of full-time employed workers are job seeking
- 79% of job seekers use online resources
- 80% of job seekers use professional contacts & personal friends (social media)
- 48% of employers cannot fill vacancies
Workers are on their phones; everyone is on their phones. Workers are not using the want ads.
- 94% of job seekers use their smart phones
- 74% emailed with a smartphone
- 50% use smartphones to compete job applications
- 23% use their smartphone to create a cover letter and resume
Facts to know about the modern job seeker:
- Less likely to jump through hoops
- Move on quickly
- If they cannot find you online, they won’t work to find you
- Candidates today are information hoarders; they expect more information
In the current job market, looking “under the lamp” won’t work. Communities need to adopt new attraction techniques. Social media, smartphones and personal connections fill the jobs seeker’s tool bag. The process of clicking on a job posting directly from Facebook is more convenient than buying a local paper and searching the help wanted section.
Five Action Items Your Community Can Do Today to Boost Workforce Attraction
- Create a visual and mobile responsive website for your community or business. Smartphones captivate people’s attention more than any other device. And, in many cases of lower-income groups, the smartphone is the only computer used or owned.
- Post jobs on social media and get referrals from community contacts. DON’T post a job posting once. Repost, repost, share and have community members reshare job postings. Attracting a workforce consists of an “all hands on deck” mentality.
- Community leaders and economic developers need to be responsive. Time and time again, job seekers relay frustration about contacting community leaders and getting no response. Create some standard replies for a prospective job seeker that can quickly be used for email inquiries. A standard reply should consist of current companies hiring and contact information. When a job seeker reaches out, they want solutions not roadblocks—help them be successful.
- Create a workforce abassador program in your community. Assemble a group of 8 – 10 ambassadors who will create job postings and share them on social media channels. These ambassadors should each talk to 2 – 3 business, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities and help them post jobs online. The bottom line I that workforce attraction is a community problem, not just a business problem.
- Consider the power of Virtual and Augmented Reality technology. Savvy communities and businesses are already serving up job advertisements and VR tours of their workplace. And with VR, Australia and Singapore become the biggest competitors to the United States. AR/VR will be used to enhance the workforce attraction experience and provide real-world simulation to draw in potential workers. It is not science fiction anymore. Think your community is struggling now, wait till a young worker experiences Australia on their VR headset and has their expenses paid to travel and train. That is real.
- Download Golden Shovel's Workforce Attraction Toolkit to help you develop a strategy and evaluate your workforce needs.
Workforce attraction and the competition for talent challenges this generation. Unlike other challenges our country has faced, this situation directly strikes at the foundation of communities: loss of population.
Not every community solves this problem. Not every community survives. As a community leader, solving this problem means saving your community, not the world. Let the world leaders solve the world issues … you must implement ideas to be viable for the next 50 years.
The Golden Shovel Team.