As healthcare workers administer more vaccines, many companies are pushing employees to return to in-person work. However, not everyone wants to go back to hour-long commutes and drab little cubicles. In fact, some people would rather quit their jobs than give up remote work. And thousands of Americans are doing just that.
While their decision to work from home (or not work at all) may improve their well-being and work-life balance, it’s caused severe talent shortages in on-location roles across the country. Subsequently, countless businesses are struggling to fill their offices and retain skilled employees.
How to Attract Talent
Many of today’s workers have spent more than a year earning a paycheck at home. These same employees will likely expect similar perks when they return to the office. Thus, if businesses want to retain their current workforce and attract new talent, they must make on-location roles more appealing.
Here are a few ways modern businesses might rethink their benefits package, workflow, and office design to accommodate and welcome back a post-pandemic workforce.
1. Encourage Open Dialogue
After businesses laid off millions of workers, those who were left began to experience mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. They didn’t know if they’d have to pick up the slack or if they’d be sent home next. These same employees are now returning to the office with survivor guilt. Their co-workers’ desks sit empty and, to make matters worse, many supervisors are completely oblivious to the widespread survivor guilt wracking the team.
To move forward in a healthy way, employers must become aware and accepting of their team’s worries and frustrations. Allowing them to openly voice their thoughts and opinions can also help workers release some steam and discuss their needs. Companies should implement an ongoing feedback loop. This will ensure both current and future employees are satisfied and will help them understand why furloughs and firings are necessary.
2. Provide Child Care
One-third of the U.S. workforce has a child under 14 in their home, and nearly 20 percent of them must reduce their work hours due to a lack of child care. Meanwhile, 26 percent of women had to quit their jobs to raise their kids. Only 30 percent of working parents had backup child care, highlighting the disparities between low- and high-income families.
As of December 2020, more than 25 percent of child care providers remain closed. However, more businesses are requiring employees to return to the office. Employers will have to provide free or at least discounted childcare to these workers if they’re to avoid talent shortages in the post-pandemic era. Whether it be on-location or a few blocks away, this employee benefit will help retain working parents and entice new ones to submit a job application.
3. Invest in Ongoing Training
The increasing demand for remote jobs has affected practically every business. However, industries like healthcare, hospitality, financial services, and construction are experiencing the most severe talent shortages.
These professions often require on-location workers that train under an apprentice if need be. Thus, employers can attract new talent by improving training programs and investing in ongoing learning. This arrangement also contributes to current employees’ engagement to improve retention.
4. Offer Better Benefits
Employers looking to develop a hybrid workplace environment might consider offering better benefits to on-location workers. Contrary to popular belief, this method is completely legal, as there are no federal laws requiring plans to provide the same benefit coverage to all employees.
Thus, providing childcare, learning opportunities, health insurance, 401(k) plans and other perks to on-location employees may entice more workers to stay and others to apply for such positions. Adding amenities like a fitness center, coffee shop, and even sleep pods could also bring more workers into the office and help with talent shortages.
5. Plan for Flexibility
Regardless of how many benefits you offer, some employees will still prefer to work from home. If most of the team feels similarly, supervisors might consider a flexible schedule rather than a complete company overhaul. This approach will help them save money and adapt to the ever-changing workplace environment. More importantly, it will help retain and attract cream-of-the-crop workers.
Employers should collaborate with employees to determine a schedule that works best for them. Maybe they’ll work from home every other day or only come into the office for meetings. Whatever system they choose, team members are bound to be less stressed and even more productive if they spend at least part of their workweek at home.
Finding and Retaining Talent
Ironically, finding on-location workers will require many human resource professionals and talent acquisition specialists to work remotely and use online resources. By utilizing digital job fairs, experiential events, and artificial intelligence, businesses can effectively search for and vet potential job candidates. Emerging recruitment tactics like jobcasting and gamified skill tests can also attract talented employees who don’t mind working in an office.
While this process may be incredibly stressful and expensive, it won’t go on forever. This is especially true if businesses alter their hiring and retainment strategies. As long as they incorporate the tactics above, they shouldn’t have to face a talent shortage for a long while—or at least until the next pandemic.