Staffing Challenges and Solutions in a Post-Pandemic World

CORP Blog Staffing Challenges LP Header 2021

What happens to the employment market when the nation’s longest economic boom cycle runs straight into a global pandemic? Chaos and confusion reign supreme, with organizations of all sizes scrambling to make sense of the employee retention and hiring conditions. Small-to-midsize businesses, with smaller human resources departments, are particularly vulnerable to staffing shortages, but most U.S.-based businesses share the same concerns.

According to Finances Online, organizations’ top recruiting priorities for 2021 and 2022 are the following:

  1. 68% Sourcing candidates directly
  2. 66% building talent pools for the future
  3. 42% investing in tools to speed up hiring

The top 5 recruitment challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, according to TalentLyft, are: firing instead of hiring, high volume hiring, difficulties filling jobs, digitization of recruitment, and hiring budgets cut.

Ongoing COVID-19 fears and employees considering career moves

The pandemic is driving a wide range of career-related concerns for individuals. Chief among them is the sense that timing advancement opportunities is more important than ever, given the uncertainty of the pandemic’s effects on local opportunities. When many professionals sense opportunity for career advancement, they are less likely to take their time and more likely to bolt from their current employers. For others who have job security, work-from-home, and childcare benefits, the likelihood of leaving an employer now is less than it would be if not for the pandemic.

Remote work is here to stay, workers with school-age children needed at home

  • As the demand for remote workers is on the rise, office operations (32%), onboarding (41%), and remote recruiting of candidates are also seeing a shift (GRID, 2020)

What started out as a temporary solution became a new way of life for many. Remote work had been a growing trend even before the pandemic, and now many top performers across industries expect to work remotely for the remainders of their careers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “COVID-19 kicked away the scaffolding of care working families rely on to balance the demands of work and family.”

  • About 1.6 million fewer mothers of children under 18 were working in January 2021 than in January 2020, representing a 6.5% decline. In comparison, the number of working fathers declined by 1.3 million, or 5.1%.
  • A year into the pandemic, 58% of mothers reported that worry or stress related to the coronavirus has negatively affected their mental health.

Competitive labor pool

  • This has caused employers to compromise on some of their positional requirements, for both hard and soft skills. Consider that requirements for excellent conversational skills and enthusiasm have decreased by 20% (Jobvite, 2018).

For skilled positions, this is one of the tightest labor markets we have ever seen in many industries. With a shortage of qualified candidates, employers are forced to reduce job requirements to expand the available talent pool. Slight reductions in skill qualifications, as well as academic and credential requirements may be necessary to account for the labor shortage.

Finding the right “fit”

  • 92% of employers say soft skills are a key factor in determining whether they hire a candidate, and 80% believe soft skills are more or equally important as hard skills (Career Builder, 2019)
  • 8 out of 10 recruiters use references to screen candidates (SHRM, 2017).
  • Employee referrals are the number one source of quality hires (LinkedIn).

When employers have to contend with offering more generous compensation and benefits, while reducing position requirements, it can be especially tough to also consider team and company culture fit. Yet fit matters more than ever. Soft skills, personality, temperament, values, and goals all factor into determining a likely long-term match between employee and employer.

10 Recruitment Tips to Overcome Today’s Staffing Challenges

Focus on current employees. Offer an incentive bonus!

The time and expense of replacing an existing employee is much greater than what it would likely take to retain your best employees. Consider annual incentive bonuses that give your employees goals to think about every day, week, month, and year.

Network to build potential candidate pool, or work with a staffing agency

If you wait until you have an open position to start the hiring process, you’ve waited too long. In this environment, you need to be continually building a candidate pool. Attend local industry events, reach out to well-established professionals and ask for connections, and tap your own employees for referrals.

Create a positive first impression

How well does your employment process compare to your competitors? If you don’t know the answer, consider having a third party test it to reveal your strengths and weaknesses. If your time-to-hire is too long, with too many rounds of interviews, you could be losing your best candidates in the process.

Use ERP technology to streamline your staffing needs

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software integrates all of your vital applications into a single, centralized software solution. When everyone has access to and contributes to real-time data in one repository, each person spends less time locating information, entering data, and carrying out their own responsibilities. There is no wasted time with redundant data entry or trying to integrate data from disparate applications. Files don’t have to be shared by gatekeepers through email or logging into separate applications, and time wasted by delivery of information becomes a problem of the past.

Evaluate local wages for similar skills

Have you gradually increased your wages by a consistent percentage each year? You may be surprised to find out that with inflation driving wages up, your compensation packages have become less competitive. Research competitors in your industry and region to ensure that your pay is on par with comparable positions.

Review your lifestyle benefits and your benefit package

Embrace remote work options; it’s the present and the future of work for any type of work that can be accomplished away from the workplace. Millennials and Gen Z workers are especially attracted to this benefit, as well as to work-life balance benefits.

Provide career growth opportunities

Not long ago, prospective employees wanted to know that there are paths to promotions within your organization. A quick explanation of your hierarchy would suffice. Today, top candidates want to discuss a career advancement plan, including several possible tracks up the leadership ladder, as well as professional and skill development opportunities along the way. If you don’t offer career growth planning, you could be missing out on top talent.

Take a deeper dive into staffing challenges when you download ECI’s new whitepaper, Staffing Challenges Solved.

ECI Staff Contributors

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.