It seems like competing in a fast-paced global market allows for very little to no room for error. When not addressed properly, relatively small mishaps can create a costly domino effect for your business. While you may not be prepared for 100% of the things that can happen, it’s best to safeguard yourself against the things that are most likely to happen—including staffing shortages.
What Can Cause a Staffing Shortage?
The job market can be as competitive as the battle for consumers’ attention and loyalty. Employers also have to deal with finding and recruiting the right workers in a steadily shrinking labor market. There are many factors that contribute to staffing shortages, and they can differ from country to country. But here are some common causes that could be observed in various labor markets regardless of the industry or geographical location.
- Retiring “Boomer” Generation: A lot of those in the Baby Boomer generation are either rethinking their retirement plans or have already retired. The health risks of COVID plus the chance to really think about what they ultimately want to do for the rest of their lives have spurred aging boomers to retire and leave the workforce.
- Changing Work Preferences: Oddly enough, the rapid transition to remote work has forced a lot of workers to figure out that maybe an office setup is not the right work environment for them. This causes employees to pursue various career opportunities that may not have been available or accessible to them before this decade.
- Mismatch of Skills and/or Skill Shortage: As the aging sector of the workforce leaves, there should be plenty of opportunities for the younger generation to find fulfilling work. However, a mismatch of skills and perhaps unrealistic expectations from employers can become barriers to recruitment. Because of gaps in the recruitment process and matching the right talent to the correct role, open positions can go unfilled for a long time, contributing to an even larger staffing shortage.
- Employee Burnout: Employee burnout can also stem from a number of factors, including a toxic working environment, societal pressures, inflation, the list goes on. A lot of workers are finding it difficult to handle these different changes on top of various work and home responsibilities (i.e., child care, household management, etc.). All these different factors are leading to a collective experience that experts from the University of New South Wales call “The Great Exhaustion.”
How to Avoid and Address Staffing Shortages
Have a Solid Recruitment and Onboarding Plan
It’s important to start with a good foundation. Screening and recruiting, as well as sound onboarding plans, are important steps in addressing the staffing shortages. Why? Because when you find the right talent who possesses both the right skills and attitude, you’re essentially avoiding a job mismatch. This can be detrimental to both the employee’s confidence in accomplishing the role and the company’s productivity. Additionally, employees who know how they fit in the organization and feel like they’re doing meaningful work will most likely have more reasons to stay than to find a more fulfilling opportunity elsewhere.
It’s also crucial for recruiters to know that they might be hard-pressed to find someone who can fit the job description to a tee. Aside from technical skills, recruiters must look for someone whose values align with the company culture and who is open to feedback and improvement.
Communication is Key: Welcome Employee Feedback
Feedback is a two-way street. Employers should be open and even openly solicit feedback from both their top and underperforming employees. It’s physically impossible to read everyone’s minds, so getting actionable insights from the workers can be valuable for an employer that’s concerned about employee retention and avoiding staffing shortages.
Improve Your Company Culture
While free pizza in the pantry and casual Fridays are good starts, there are many more things you can do to improve your company culture. Ensure that your culture welcomes open communication and train your management on how to practice DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) when managing staff. Work perks, employee benefits, and events for your staff are also great ways to show your appreciation to your workforce while allowing them to interact and engage with other members of the organization as well. A positive company culture is one that knows how to drive productivity and efficiency without sacrificing employees’ well-being.
Invest in Training and Upskilling
Training and upskilling are great ways to address staffing shortages that are due to skills mismatch. If you have someone who has the basics down pat, then you should build on that foundation to help them fill the next role in their career track. Preparing them for the skills they will need prior to a promotion or any movement within the company is better than thrusting them into a role. This can lead to a feeling of not being prepared and being set up to fail. Plus, employees who feel like their employers are equally invested in their career development can be encouraged to improve and look forward to more fulfilling years with the company.
Have SOPs at the Ready
SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures, are a must-have for any company. Any core business process must be documented and regularly updated. These should come in handy for new hires and for situations where a staffing shortage is unavoidable (example: when an employee takes a medical or sabbatical leave).
Explore Alternative Staffing Solutions
If your company has non-core functions that need to be done, then you should definitely consider exploring alternative staffing solutions. Big data and forecasts cannot accurately predict all of the future outcomes, and there may be situations where you will find yourself facing a staffing shortage problem. In these situations, alternative staffing solutions are a cost-efficient and highly effective way to address your staffing concerns.
Examples of Alternative Staffing Solutions:
- Virtual Assistants: If you have low-value tasks that can be done remotely, then you should consider hiring virtual assistants. Working with virtual assistants is a cost-effective way to get the job done. You can hire a part-time assistant or a full-time one depending on your needs.
- Freelancers: Do you have a one-time requirement or project like logo design or video editing for a company event? Then you can hire freelancers on a per-project basis. Working with a freelancer means you’re getting a specialist for a project but don’t have to worry about the related costs of hiring a full-time employee.
- Offshoring: Offshoring some of your company’s non-core functions can help you manage your in-office staff’s workload. This alternative staffing solution allows you to move some of your processes to another country, usually partnering with a local company to help with management. Having some of your business processes done outside of the country does not only help with business continuity but also cost-savings. This is because other countries’ wage requirements are significantly lower than those of western countries.
Every company should have a plan on how to recruit and retain the right talent for their business. After all, more that the products or the brand equity, it’s the workforce that could be considered the bloodline of an organization. Without the right people doing the essential business processes, there would probably be any products to sell or services to offer.