Much of the news about the hiring market these days focuses on the pandemic and the slow return of workers to the labor force, but many of the positions at the heart of those conversations are found at entry levels and within sectors like the service industry. The irony for employers on the hunt for skilled labor is that they have been grappling with a talent shortage for years.
According to a ManpowerGroup study released before last year’s COVID shutdown, global talent shortages had almost doubled in the previous decade. Research indicated that 54 percent of companies reported skills shortages, with the United States (69 percent) reporting the most acute shortage of 44 countries surveyed.
The truth is, this development shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. As new technologies emerge, more specialized education, training and expertise is required. In fact, those rising shortage numbers figure to remain on an upward trajectory for the near future.
“In an increasingly tech-enabled world, people with skills are in demand,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, in a statement about the study.
As a hiring manager, you have more tools than you might think for tracking down and bringing aboard qualified personnel during a talent shortage. By turning to contract employees, it’s possible to fill temporary gaps, hire quickly and tap into a pipeline of specialized workers without committing to long-term relationships that could lead to bloat or overstaffing as your company’s needs change.
More workers than ever before indicate a preference for contracting, which means your business isn’t limited to the shallow end of the talent pool. And even in the midst of a talent shortage, there are ways to make your company and the roles you’re offering more attractive. Consider:
Higher pay: This almost goes without saying, but it’s important to remember your cost savings in a contract relationship (insurance, 401k, etc.) and weigh it against the urgency and duration of your need. You might ask yourself: “Can I afford to pay a contractor an above-market rate for a highly-skilled role on a three-month project?” If so, ask yourself this: “Can I afford not to?”
Flexible work: Some workers value the ability to work remotely so highly that they will accept higher employment risk in return. Even for positions that traditionally require an in-office presence, perhaps a day or two of work from home might be allowed as an hiring incentive. Contract workers also typically enjoy extended breaks between assignments, allowing them to take care-free vacations without having to think about the work piling up on their desks while they are gone.
Training and skills development: Some companies are connected to professional-growth programs that could help sway a contract worker weighing an offer. “We know from conversations with candidates, clients and from our data that workers want flexibility and the opportunity to learn new skills,” Prising said. “As the pace of disruption accelerates, helping people adapt for future jobs and companies becoming creators of talent has never been more important.”
Some skilled workers won’t settle for less than full-time, salaried employment – and that’s OK. Your workforce should consist of a percentage of staff employees, which bring stability and proprietary knowledge to your company while giving contract workers who are interested in permanent work something to aspire to.
The number of contractors you’ll require will be dictated by the unique needs of your company at any given time. But by opening up your job search to the contract workforce, you can ensure that you’ll have the flexibility to meet those needs without overcommitting to staff in the future – while at the same time leaving no stone unturned in the search for elusive talent.
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