6 reasons you can’t find workers (and what you can do about it)

For mid-market businesses, recruiting the right people is always a challenge. In today’s employment market, it can be near-impossible.

Not so long ago we thought it would be the opposite. Most pundits were warning that mass unemployment would follow in the wake of the pandemic. And yet many countries now have record employment rates. US unemployment has fallen from almost 15% in 2020 to 3.6% in April 2022. In the UK, the unemployment rate is 3.7%, and in many wealthy areas real unemployment is close to zero.

This is a truly remarkable transformation in the employment market. So what’s behind it?

We see six factors that have dramatically choked off the supply of workers:

  1. Older workers left the workforce earlier than expected due to age, lifestyle choices, illness, or fear of illness.
  2. Reduced immigration (dare I say Brexit) and increased emigration as many decided to hunker down in their home countries.
  3. People switched jobs, especially from services closed during lockdowns — which then created shortages when those sectors re-opened.
  4. Career-switchers reduced the available skills capital (such as an experienced chef who is now a junior delivery driver).
  5. Large numbers of people who wanted to change jobs postponed due to uncertainty or to take advantage of generous job protection schemes, so many positions that might have opened stayed filled.
  6. And, of course, dynamism in the market reduces its short-term elasticity, because people who change jobs aren’t normally looking to change again for a couple of years.

All these factors are creating an entirely new, unwelcome challenge for mid-market businesses. In response, many companies are taking extraordinary steps to beef up pay and benefits packages and improve working conditions.

But to really emerge from this revolution fit for the next 20 years, mid-market companies should look seriously at how effectively they are using this most precious of resources, their people.

Of all our resources, people are often what really make the difference. So now is the time make the best use of your best assets. This means peeling back frustrating layers of complexity, reorganising, and re-designing systems and processes.

In the meantime, watch our video Hybrid working is the strategic challenge of the decade. Why?

The goal is to create a lean and efficient business that’s able to meet increased demand without the need to recruit. That’s why we’re currently working with our clients to create a strategy of reducing waste and friction and to automate and integrate wherever possible.

There will of course be times when you absolutely have to recruit. But you can hang on to your best people when you give them fewer reasons to look elsewhere.

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