11 Ways Companies Can Address Workforce Shortages

With immigration to the U.S. being at its lowest levels in decades, what is one thing companies can do to fill critical or high-skilled job openings?

To help you best recruit skilled talents to mitigate the growing workforce shortage, we asked business leaders and HR managers this question for their best insights. From searching specialized social networks to shifting attention to a pipeline-driven approach, there are several directions companies may take to fill critical job roles when faced with workforce shortages. 

Here are 11 ways companies can address workforce shortages:

  • Search Specialized Social Networks for High-Skilled Workers
  • Remove Barriers to Hiring New Employees
  • Implement an Aggressive Hiring Strategy
  • Offer Competitive Employee Wellness Benefits
  • Recruit Student Veterans
  • Hire Foreign Workers Through the H-1 B Visa Program
  • Look at Internal Talent Pools
  • Pay Attention to Employee Referrals
  • Hire Talent Globally for Remote Work
  • Partner With Schools and Offer Skills Training to Aspirants
  • Shift Attention to a Pipeline-Driven Approach

Search Specialized Social Networks for High-Skilled Workers

Use specialized social networks to look for high-skilled workers. There are platforms where people with similar interests connect and share their content. For example, designers hang out on Pinterest, tech specialists showcase their work on GitHub, and many communicators are on Twitter. Scan timelines to browse users' content or use keywords to see which users are discussing particular topics relevant to your industry. Doing so will help you connect with various professionals. This recruiting initiative primarily works when looking for remote workers or freelancers.

Ryan Stewart, Managing Partner, Webris

Remove Barriers to Hiring New Employees

Most employers go through a stringent interview and background check process to ensure they are hiring the right candidate to fill their role. Finding the perfect candidate can create barriers for those looking to enter or reenter the workforce. Candidates who lack access to childcare or those with a criminal record can make the hiring process even more difficult for them and the employer when filling critical job openings. 

Employers can provide opportunities for those who lack access to daycare. Some options include remote or hybrid work schedules that allow working parents to alternate their schedules to accommodate the inability to afford childcare. Having on-site daycare available to employees at a reduced rate can also result in fewer days missed and more productive employees. Employers can also reduce stringent background check policies to fill positions in restaurants, landscaping, or construction,  where direct contact with the public is not required.

Annette Harris, Founder, Harris Financial Coaching

Implement an Aggressive Hiring Strategy

A low immigration rate means tight competition among companies in hiring top talent for high-skilled positions. One way to spot and keep quality candidates is to recruit them aggressively, enough for them not to look for other opportunities elsewhere. Do not keep them waiting after a successful interview because you are giving them the time to be idle, which they can use to seek other employers who might have better offers than you. 

If you feel that a candidate deserves to work in your company, express immediately your intention to hire them. If possible, announce your decision the same day you conduct the interview. That way, they will be more excited and inclined to accept your offer, allowing you to get them right off the bat. However, if your chosen candidates delay accepting your offer, ensure you get in touch with them at least twice a week to show that you are genuinely interested in working with them as soon as possible.

Jake Smith, Owner and Managing Director, Absolute Reg

Offer Competitive Employee Wellness Benefits

Other than monetary incentives, a competitive and well-structured wellness benefit has the power to convince talented people to apply for your job openings. This is especially true if the position in question is highly technical and only a few are qualified to carry out the tasks involved. That said, you must come up with an out-of-the-box wellness and mental health program, which can be one essential aspect that will make or break the deal. 

Many companies offer attractive compensation for high-skilled jobs, but not everyone prioritizes the overall well-being of their employees. Try to edge out your competitors and be different by including free gym subscriptions or adding psychotherapy sessions to your offers. You have to take advantage of this opportunity and make your prospects realize that your company gives high importance to work-life balance, regardless of how demanding the job will be.

Allan Stolc, Founder, Bankly.dk

Recruit Student Veterans

Each year, more than 200,000 service members leave Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, 75% of whom will have served between 4 - 6 years of military service and received, on average, 1.5 years of advanced training. Seeking out transitioning service members has been an increasing source of high-value talent for many companies over the last five years; however, often missed in the conversation is that approximately 50% of those transitioning service members will enter higher education pathways using their earned G.I. Bill benefits.  

The resulting 75,000+ annual veteran college graduates bring their military skills (hard and soft skills) and their recent educational achievements to the workforce. Still, they are often overlooked by traditional early career campus recruiting teams who are unable to identify and utilize the previous military experience and skills to match veteran graduates to appropriate roles. In 2023, these student veterans will be the untapped goldmine for critical openings.

Chris Thorne, Owner and President, Chris Thorne Consulting (CTC)

Hire Foreign Workers Through the H-1 B Visa Program

One solution that has been gaining popularity is to bring in foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa allows companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field. There are several reasons why the H-1B visa program has become increasingly popular in recent years. The pool of skilled workers in the U.S. has been declining as Baby Boomers retire, and the number of foreign-born workers with advanced degrees has also been increasing.

Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer, Checkr

Look at Internal Talent Pools

Companies will need to consider hiring candidates not for the skills they already have but for the skills they can be trained on. Companies should look at their internal talent pool, see which high-performing employees might be interested in new opportunities, and determine how they can upskill them. Those employees have already proven themselves and will appreciate the company continuing to invest in them.

Samantha Rosenberg, Director, Human Resources, AACC

Pay Attention to Employee Referrals

Developing and later promoting employee referral programs is an invaluable way to fill critical or high-skilled job openings. Each company has already hired high-skilled professionals, and those employees have friends, college acquaintances, or people they met at conferences or courses. Therefore, don't look for experienced employees, but encourage your current staff to help you. A proactively running referral program that rewards employees for referring candidates is the best option to achieve your hiring goals. 

Employees feel they're responsible for referrals, so they recommend only valuable people they can vouch for. Therefore, you can count on experienced, skilled, and higher-quality candidates. Referred professionals are usually better matches. After successful hiring, onboarding of referred employees goes more smoothly, they fit into organizational culture faster, and they tend to stick with the organization longer.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now

Hire Talent Globally for Remote Work

When the world came to grips with the new normal, companies worldwide began to harness the power of hiring remote employees from anywhere. And why not? Talent is not limited to a particular location. This is the beauty of the recent shift to remote work being a normal part of the corporate world. 

Instead of being constrained by the pressures of finding highly qualified professionals within your office's geographic location, hiring remotely means you can hire someone who fits the role perfectly from somewhere else. This is so effective that business process outsourcing has been part of the Fortune 500's way of doing business for so long. Today, it’s much easier for small and medium-sized companies to do this as well. As the current world events continue to reshape the way we do business daily, it makes more sense for a company to set plans to adapt and start enjoying the benefits larger enterprises have been enjoying for years.

Rain Flores, Digital Media Marketing Manager, Clark Staff

Partner With Schools and Offer Skills Training to Aspirants

Link up with universities, job fairs, and after-school programs to locate aspiring candidates your company can siphon. Strike an agreement with schools where your brand can offer free skill-building workshops to aspirants who are about to enter the industry. In exchange, qualified candidates will be offered a term of employment at the end of the workshop. This strategy is a win-win situation for both parties. Aspirants have employment opportunities, while companies can strategically fill high-skilled job openings. Offering a training program will also help ensure quality candidates with skill-sets relevant to your company’s needs.

Jim Campbell, CEO and Founder, Epic Carribean

Shift Attention to a Pipeline-Driven Approach

Don't expect to fill your roles with "guns for hire" by hiring the exact skills you need now. Instead, shift to a pipeline-driven approach, where you hire less skilled workers today that you expect to grow into more senior roles over time. Yes, this won't solve the talent shortage you are facing today. But think about it, do you expect this shortage to improve in a few years? If the answer is "no," you must start addressing that issue today. This goes back to the Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”   

Atta Tarki, Founder and Author, ECA Partners


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