Attracting New Workers in a Competitive Hiring Environment

by Rebeca Seitz

Trying to hire your next great employee? Maybe you thought this would be easy. After all, 9.8 million people are out of work due to the pandemic. They’ll be happy to come work for you, right? 

Not so fast. 

Workers aren’t coming back for a variety of reasons that are still coming into focus, including a lack of child care (due to schools still being virtual), lack of financial need (due to unemployment benefits), fear of contracting COVID, and a calculation that the offered pay isn’t worth the required time and effort. For the most part, all of the reasons boil down to the fact that American workers have had a full year to consider how they spend their time. 

In short, workers have awakened to their marketplace worth and they’re holding employers accountable to that reality. 

So, how can your business attract good workers in this competitive hiring environment? Here are a few ideas that might help:

  1. Brand Value. There’s a cache present with certain brands which allows a worker to take pride in his/her inclusion in that workforce. What does your brand stand for in the marketplace? Make certain its identity is one that is consistent with the corporation’s mission and values, and you’ll attract like minds.  
  1. Benefits. Go beyond healthcare plans. What can you offer employees that sets your company apart? Regular opportunity for remote work? Membership at area clubs or gyms? Access to industry-specific software, databases, or events? Organic goodies in the breakroom? Feature placement in the company’s social media? A big benefit to consider is providing childcare for workers. According to March surveys by the Census Household Pulse, 6.3 million people aren’t working because they’re caring for children at home. That’s a lot of potential workers! Could you partner with a local nanny or tutoring company to offer discounts to your employees? Maybe create a program that allows employees’ middle or high schoolers to set up in a separate office space for virtual school and work for an hour or two in the afternoon, alongside mom or dad? Think hard about what your worker would value and then determine how you can afford to provide it. 
  1. Pay. Yes, workers are holding out for better pay right now. COSTCO has raised its starting pay to $16/hour. Target and Amazon, to $15/hour. Those giant corporations might be better suited to weather an increase in labor costs than your small business, especially if you’ve had a year of little or no sales. So, how do you compete? First ask yourself, can your business thrive with less workers in order to pay the existing ones better? Consider other areas of the budget that could be lessened in order to put more into your labor pool. Cost of goods, maybe? If you do need to raise prices to cover labor costs, perhaps create a marketing campaign that communicates to your customers that prices are rising in order to better care for the family of workers within the business. This solves the problem of how to afford an increase in pay and enhances your brand to customers. They can feel good about the products they’re buying from you, knowing the workers who made those products available are being treated fairly. 

Whatever you do, don’t lose heart. Every problem has a solution and all things come together in their own way and timing. If your business is in need of workers, then those workers ARE out there. Sit down, consider how your business can care for those workers, and you’ll soon find yourself on a path toward hiring them.