Hiring and Retaining Employees in the New Normal


There is a puzzle in the U.S. business sector nowadays. As of July 3, 47.3 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Therefore, many businesses have reopened to cater to those who can now freely move around without masks or physical distancing. Companies are facing an unexpected obstacle, though. There are not enough people applying for jobs. This is despite having 9.5 million unemployed people as of June, according to government statistics.

Why People Are Not Applying

There are several reasons why people are not applying for those job openings. One theory is that the unemployment benefits they are currently receiving are higher than the salaries offered by companies. This has spurred some companies to raise wages. For instance, Amazon hired 500,000 employees in 2020 at $15 per hour. Target, Walmart, and many grocery chains have hewed closely to that amount. For newly certified drivers, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings increased salaries by 40 percent to reach an average of $60,000. Businesses that do not match these wages are still finding it difficult to attract workers.

Some people may have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to infection. Hence, they fear exposure without full vaccination. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey showed that there is a higher rate of employment among fully vaccinated people.

Another reason why some people are not applying for jobs is that they are needed at home. A survey in March showed that they account for 14 percent of non-working adults who have not yet retired. Among them, 6.3 million need to be with their children who are now homeschooling or do not have daycare. Another 2.1 million are caring for elderly family members.

Offer Remote Work Opportunities

People who cannot work outside due to health conditions or because they need to care for children or the elderly at home will work from home. They are not the only ones who want to work from home, either. Several surveys show that most workers prefer to work remotely even after the pandemic. More than half will leave their current job if required to go back to the office. They would rather find another job with a permanent remote work arrangement.

In the Pulse of the American Worker survey, employees who work remotely said they could save money, save time from not having to commute, spend more time with their family, and get more sleep. These improve their health and reduce their stress levels.

Businesses that offer jobs with permanent remote work arrangements will, therefore, attract many applicants. They will also have better employee retention. Furthermore, this opens up the possibility of hiring people from all over the country, widening the pool and increasing the chances of finding the best people. With such a large pool to choose from, it is best to equip the human resources team with applicant tracking software. This will ensure that none of the best applicants fall through the cracks of the application process.

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Job Migration is Coming

Employees who are not feeling work satisfaction are itching for a change. According to the Pulse of the American Worker survey, a fourth of American employees intend to find a new job as soon as the pandemic eases. A survey by Achievers showed that more than half of North American employees plan to look for a new job in 2021. The Work Trend Index of Microsoft shows that more than 40 percent of 30,000 people surveyed in 31 countries are thinking of leaving their jobs this year. These numbers represent a huge turnover compared to the pre-pandemic average turnover rate of 15 percent in the U.S.

In the Pulse of the American Worker survey, 20 percent of respondents left their jobs in the past year. Their reasons were to have a better work-life balance, better compensation, and wanting to try something new.

Among those still planning to leave, most seek career growth, and more than half took skills training during the pandemic. When asked what would make them stay in their jobs, they cited higher compensation, flexible work schedules, opportunities for mobility, and remote work options. They wanted employers to provide them with resources to set up home offices and to subsidize remote-work expenses.

Retain Your Best Staff

Businesses know that losing employees is costly. There is a cost involved in calling for applications, screening, hiring, and training new people. There is a loss in productivity before new people reach the same level of skills that previous employees had. It is, therefore, best to retain current employees while striving to hire the best for open positions.

Remote work is cost-effective and has proven to be productive. Savings from brick-and-mortar overhead costs can go to wage increases. The employees’ thirst for continuous learning and training is good for the company. Knowing the needs expressed by employees, it is now up to companies to respond concretely to hire and retain the best workers.

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