Of all of the likely impacts of the COVID pandemic, it’s hard to imagine that business owners envisioned this – a labor shortage, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades.
In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there were 8.1 million open and unfilled positions in March 2021 (the last month for which data is available). Even worse, the number of employees available for every open job reached a 20-year low this spring – and continues to plummet.
Compounding this reality is the sudden sexiness of greener pastures – seemingly happy employees jumping ship at an alarming rate, in a trend that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) calls the “HR Turnover Tsunami.”
We’re hearing this tale across every industry – from a residential landscaping business in the Mid-Atlantic area, to a large healthcare services company in the Northeast, the lament is the same – the booming economy has them in a growth posture, yet they’re having a hard time staffing up to meet that demand, and an equivalent struggle to keep good people.
“It’s not a ‘post-and-respond’ market like what we typically would be dealing with,” said Erin Spencer, the Founder of Edgebrook Lane, a fractional Human Resources consulting firm focused on SMB and mid-market companies. “It used to be that you would put an ad up, and you would have 50 or 100 applicants. No more.”
Despite the seeming universality of this labor struggle, all challenges are not created equal. In fact, there ARE companies that are finding success at recruiting and hiring – and it isn’t requiring a magic wand or an overflowing bag of cash to achieve it.
Instead, they’ve applied some time-tested marketing strategies to these internal hiring struggles – using their employment opportunities as the “hero” of a campaign to nurture prospective employees through a de-facto “buying journey.” Make no mistake about it—recruiting and retaining employees is absolutely a critical element of an effective corporate marketing program. Focus your marketing initiatives exclusively on prospective buyers and clients at your own peril!
Here are a few tips and techniques that Erin and I feel will help you succeed at the recruitment and retention game:
It truly is a brave new world – and for trends that already were transforming the workplace, COVID has stepped on the gas pedal. As you consider your own growth prospects and invest in your future, be sure to allocate both mind- and wallet-share on your most critical investment – your human resources. You know that old adage, “You have to spend money to make money”? It’s never been more applicable.
You don’t have to manage this alone. Erin’s company, Edgebrook Lane, offers full-cycle HR capabilities, including recruitment, retention, career development, performance reviews, and more. You may reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.