Finding Employees in Today’s Pandemic Times
Updated: Sep 24
The hot topic in our economy is hiring. Where are we going to find workers to fill our open positions is a common refrain today for small and large businesses alike. You would think that with the economy roaring back why are jobs that were previously filled not being filled up fast?
Many people blame leaders in government for their policies that are paying out unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for up to 46 weeks in states like California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada.
But, in fact, many people have left the workforce, not for supplemental benefits but for a variety of other reasons. The pandemic caused a shift in some of the attitudes and behaviors people have toward work. WFH (working from home) caused some to move out of the urban centers. Some people want to enjoy their summer and have readjusted their lives to live on less during these past many months.
Some do not have childcare set up making working more difficult. Some seem to have dropped out of the workforce perhaps to raise families, some have moved to a new location with a lower cost-of-living, while still others took early retirement, while others might be experiencing PTSD-like fear of returning to work due to Covid still present in our communities.
Business leaders took notice of the incredible increases in entry-level wages paid by Amazon when they announced they would hire 75,000 more workers, offer $1,000 signing bonuses in some locations and offer average pay of $17/hour as a typical starting wage. Raising wages for more than 500,000 hourly employees to give them pay increases of between 50 cents and $3/hour is an investment of more than $1 billion according to the Wall St. Journal. Similar news runs throughout our economy from companies like McDonald’s Corp, Chipotle, Applebee’s, and KFC. These bold, necessary moves to stay competitive, seem to be challenging to smaller businesses with fewer dollars to throw around.
But, as larger businesses lead, so will small businesses likely follow. With $15/hour minimum wage initiatives sweeping the nation, even companies already paying above average wages have to raise their wages as well, which in turn will cause price increases.
While it’s always been difficult to find people in some industries, it’s now more challenging than ever.
So, how do you hire more entry-level or field service workers in the construction, restaurant, and business service industries?
Here is a three-step foundational approach to hiring workers in today’s times:
Research the position you are hiring for well. Examine the supply of talent available by perusing similar job ads. Are they a glut of similar advertisements? If so, you’re going to have to be more aggressive in your marketing. That means more creativity in your messaging, more omnipresence in your marketing, and more competition in your compensation.
Some of my clients have turned their marketing departments into a hiring-focused marketing
department. Instead of having your marketing team allocate 30% of its marketing focus toward hiring future employees consider maybe even 80% of your team’s time and money going towards hiring new employees especially if you are turning work down and need the employees.
Washington and has been so successful landing contracts to provide transportation services that he’s focused 100% of his efforts on hiring drivers. His company has leveraged the tools available in BambooHR to streamline the hiring process, measure and manage the attrition process. But, more importantly, with the competition from delivery services like DoorDash and Postmates, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and delivery businesses like Amazon and UPS, his competition for hiring drivers in Seattle is significant. His team has resorted to Facebook Ads, beefing up Google Reviews to rank higher in job searches and going beyond the usual Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and job boards.
K&D Landscaping has been running press releases that they are hiring using paid advertorials
that promote their BHAG™ of 300 employees by 2030 goal. They have told employee stories of people who have worked for K&D for several or more years. These employee success stories spotlight people who came to work for K&D and have advanced into more management level positions. As they continue to hire and promote more women in their workplace, one such employee success story is Jamie Strange who came on as an assistant doing marketing and now is an Account Manager.
I have worked with K&D’s team to include a core values approach in their hiring and now they only look to hire people who are hungry and want to continue to grow, which represents one of their core values. Hiring based on their core values is critical to building a company culture that works, works well together, and motivates the team to perform above and beyond.
K&D Landscaping put together a one-pager of four of their top hires, sent it out to their local
chamber of commerce shared it with employees, hung it up at all supply stores, and got some
applications of that.
They also pay out a referral bonus of $500-1000 at the 90-day mark to any individual who
recommends a new hire which is an effective hiring and retention tactic.
You will need to consider signing bonuses and increased competition if you are going to be
competitive. And, if you boost entry-level wages, say from $15/hour to $17/hour, then you will
need to consider making a $2 per hour increase up to the management level. I know this can be a daunting commitment, but you will need to do this to stay competitive and keep your hiring going.
According to Justin White, CEO of K&D Landscaping, “We raised prices January 1, April 1 and probably will raise July 1st. We’ve never raised prices more than once a year. But, the normal 5-10% increase in wages is now happening every 3 months due to the marketing conditions.”
Wage increases at pandemic-thriving companies, like Amazon, have driven price increases in
other service businesses. People I consult in the restaurant, retail, construction, and manufacturing industries have all had to do the same if they want to retain and hire new
These ideas are just a few of the many suggestions and solutions I offer clients who are having issues with hiring. If you are interested in learning more about how to build a phenomenal company culture that attracts more A player talent or want to learn about some of the hiring techniques we recommend based on the top hiring programs used at world-class companies or have questions about how hiring and retention strategies that will reduce your mis-hire rate and increase employee tenure, please schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more.