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Hiring in A Tough Job Market

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics released its May 2021 jobs report on June 4. Per the report, 559,000 jobs were added in the month of May. While an improvement over the previous month, there are still concerns and challenges for many employers trying to find workers. On June 1, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its’ America Works program to help employers with filling jobs.

While the various reasons for the labor shortage continue to be debated, there are action items employers can take and corresponding risks to keep in mind while sourcing and recruiting workers.

1. Promote Your Company

The pandemic has changed how workers view the job market and the workplace. Candidates are interested in a company’s safety practices, financial stability, and flexibility with the time and place that work gets accomplished. Job seekers are looking for workplaces that align with their personal values and wellbeing, so to draw interest, employers can highlight their workplace culture, health and wellness benefits, as well as competitive compensation.

Watch out! While several employers are getting creative to lure applicants, remember a good compensation package is made up of fixed and variable compensation. You do need to be a competitive company, but it can be better to do a one-time payment or another non-recurring incentive (hiring bonus, retention bonus, etc.) instead of increasing base pay and implementing an additional benefit program, which can have an ongoing cost impact and limit your flexibility to adjust if needed.

2. Expand Your Reach for Workers

Recruitment efforts are not limited by geography. Depending on the job, work can be done remotely from anywhere. This allows you to look beyond your city or even state. Check out professional networks, look at former employees/candidates, or contract with a staffing firm. Utilize your existing workers by initiating an employee referral program or looking for ways to retrain your current employees and upskill for promotion. Think of overlooked talent pools such as older workers, workers with disabilities, and workers with criminal histories (second chance hiring for formerly incarcerated individuals).

Remote worker sits at desk in home office

Watch out! While your worker could be from anywhere, remember applicable employment law depends on where they do the work (minimum wage, paid time off, taxation, etc.). If the employer is in Florida, but the worker will be working in California, the worker is subject to California laws. Employers utilizing minors (those under age 18) must abide by child labor laws, and employers considering using an independent contractor instead of an employee must make sure they have classified the worker correctly or risk fines and penalties.

3. Streamline Your Hiring

Optimize your existing recruiting process by addressing the pain points and pitfalls. Keeping your candidate waiting for answers can send them looking for a job elsewhere. You may spend a great deal of time deliberating if you want to hire a particular worker while they already have an offer and a start date from your competitor.

Take a look at other factors you can control in your hiring process. Look at the open job – are the experience requirements set in stone? If you are not finding qualified applicants, is there on-the-job training that could be provided instead?

Outside factors, like employment laws, may impact your business. Stay on the ball with new laws and understand their implications. For example, trending marijuana legislation has various employers reviewing their drug testing practices and reconsidering if they’ll continue to require pre-employment drug testing.

Watch out! Cut down on rounds of interviews, for instance, but don’t relax hiring protocols too much. You can review your pre-employment drug testing practices, but eliminating a background check is not a good idea. A tight job market is not an excuse for a negligent hiring or negligent retention legal claim. 

Competition for talent will only increase. Be sure to give thoughtful consideration to your workforce plan and remember that short-term solutions can have long-term consequences. 

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