Why Is Hiring Becoming More Difficult in 2021- & How Can You Overcome the “Talent Drought”?

Carolyne Njeri

Why Is Hiring Becoming More Difficult in 2021 - & How Can You Overcome the Talent Drought?
“The Great Resignation” has led to an acute talent shortage the world over. Here’s how your business can still hire competitive talent in the age of chronic unemployment.

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To say that 2021 has had its fair share of ups and downs would be an understatement. What was thought to be a year of recovery for businesses, has turned out to be quite the opposite, especially in employee recruitment and retention. 

As the fallout from the pandemic continues to rage on, some employees have had to quit their jobs to stay home as caregivers while others are in search of better opportunities or more conducive work environments. The result of this has been an acute shortage in the labor market so severe it had to be named- The Great Resignation

In the US alone, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that there were 10.9 million job vacancies as of July 2021 (an all-time high) while hiring remained at an alarmingly low rate of 4.5%. 55% of employees in this survey are looking to change jobs this year, and according to this source, the quit rate in April in the US was almost 3%. In the UK, businesses that hire on minimum wage are hardly attracting anyone. Large companies in the country are also reporting a high renege rate (employees going back on a signed offer and not showing up to a new job), with over 30% of new hires quitting before they even begin. 

The statistics are endless. But they all point to one thing; there’s a big shift happening in the job market.

How did we get here?

In the months following the outbreak of the pandemic, many business owners rushed to reduce their employee count in a bid to lower overhead costs. The thinking was that as the world began to open up, they’d hire their former employees back or recruit new ones. What they failed to take into account was the time it would take for the pandemic to subside (it’s been almost 2 years and the end is not near) and people’s ability to adapt. 

The era of the pandemic forced those who had been let go from their jobs to get creative to make ends meet. They ventured into new fields and many found success, so they’re not in a rush to go back to their 9-5s. Others enjoyed the flexibility of out-of-office work so much that when in-person work resumed, they didn’t want to go back. Millions moved to freelancing, some started businesses, more became increasingly sensitive to work environments, meaning they’re vetting companies just as much as they’re being vetted.

All in all, it has become difficult to hire new employees especially in low-wage and hourly positions. So if you, a business owner or recruiter, hope to find high-quality talent in a job market that is as unconventional as it has ever been, it’s time to throw out the old rule book. Acknowledging that your recruitment problems won’t be solved by traditional methods is paramount in this situation, as it will open up your strategy to new solutions.

Here are some pointers:

  • Refresh your recruitment style

In our last several blog posts, we’ve looked at ways you can reinvigorate your talent recruitment process. From talent pipelining, where you squirrel away candidates for your future needs, to outsourcing, where you leave the heavy lifting to experts like us, we’ve outlined reasons why conventional hiring just won’t cut it in our new normal. The process is cumbersome, takes too long, may be a bit expensive and ultimately will distract you from your core business, especially if you can’t afford a dedicated recruitment team.

Another way that many businesses are finding success in these times is by relying on freelancers. Taking on freelancers can be more efficient in a precarious or unstable environment – like in the times of the Great Resignation. Freelancers are not as high-maintenance as full-time employees; all you need to do is brief them and allow them to deliver results. Don’t believe us? Here’s a report of business owners talking about their successful experiences with freelancers.

  • Review wages and salaries

The stats we’ve shared have shown that low-wage and hourly jobs are the most difficult to fill amid the great resignation. But not just those, all throughout the market, businesses have tried to offset the job gap by offering more attractive compensation packages, which has only worked to make hiring more difficult for those that choose to keep their wages low. According to this website, in September, jobs that offered £8 per hour (about twice the minimum age for 21 year olds in the UK) attracted over 39% of the total applications that month. In the US, $15/hour has become the norm for employers in the service industry.

Due to the hardships of the pandemic, fair compensation not only ensures that you hire and retain employees more, it is also a humane thing to do. Although rising wages may disrupt your bottom line at the beginning, this is only temporary. Well paid employees are motivated to give their best at their posts and are less likely to quit abruptly. So in the end you have lower turnover, higher productivity and more profits.

  • Focus on employee experience

Since the pandemic broke out, there has been a renewed focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. Diversity and inclusivity have also become core pillars of successful businesses. In this era, you should take the time to listen to the concerns of your employees and find ways to make your company culture more conducive. For instance, this study finds that women tend to make more loyal employees but as a result of the pandemic and child care, they’re less available in the job market. The solution to this particular problem, according to HBR, is partnering with day care services to help parents out as they work. This is one of many ways you can make your company more attractive to current and future hires. 

Right now, remote work and flexible work are all the rage, so you can put systems in place that allow your employees to work from home or have a hybrid system in place if they can’t be fully remote. Also, ensure your recruitment process is free from biases. Transparent hiring attracts more candidates which increases your chances of bringing on highly qualified employees.

Summing up…

Finding the best hires has always been quite difficult. But the pandemic has exacerbated the situation, and now businesses are scrambling to fill the gaps caused by the great resignation. In these times, a great rule of thumb is looking beyond conventional practices, and instead keeping up with the changes in the market as they occur to ensure you always lock down high-quality workers for your business.

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