Last Word: Take New Directions To Solve Your Labor Shortages

Filed Under: Last Word, HR, More News

In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 4.5 million American workers voluntarily bid adieu to their jobs. This “Great Resignation” is the largest number ever of staff who told their employers to “take their jobs and shove them.” 

To tackle this labor staffing shortage and its “long-haul” impact, organizations must employ novel approaches to compete in this competitive “employee’s job market.” During my career as a former vice president at a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and the CEO of my international management and human resources consulting firm, OKI ME, LLC, I have never seen so many clients desperately asking me to help them solve their labor shortages. They want it to end. Unfortunately, the Great Resignation will not likely cease soon. 

Here are several new directions that organizations should consider to solve their labor shortages. 

Networking: No. 1 Way To Find Jobs

The number one way people find jobs is through networking. 

When jobs become open, employers often initially try filling them by actively recruiting outside candidates. Since unemployment rates are low and most people are already employed, that method can lead to a dead end. Boost those efforts by making your staff “goodwill ambassadors.”

I was startled by a comment in an article by Indeed, one of the most popular U.S. online job websites. It stated that the number one way to find a job was not through them, but to: “Ask your network for referrals.” If Indeed is telling candidates that the best way to find a job is by people inside companies, why not listen to their advice? Increase employee referral bonuses so staff are incentivized to become your “goodwill ambassadors” and get the word out to their networks about your open positions.

Look Inward

Take time to better forecast your labor needs. Create initiatives that prepare staff to assume  vacancies before they occur by upgrading their skill sets. Provide mentoring, succession planning, and coaching so they are qualified for positions when they become available. Acknowledge applications of all internal candidates.

If an employee possesses all the essential functions of the job but lacks a few items in the “prefer category,” consider hiring that person immediately. NEVER lower your standards but a slightly imperfect person may be perfect to fill your vacancy. 

Retain Great Staff 

Organizations would be wise to spend more on retention efforts and figuring out how to make their environment so attractive that productive staff  do not want to leave. Turnover costs are staggering. According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employees’ annual salary.

Research from the Boston Consulting Group found that there is “a widening mismatch between the job environment employees want—and now expect—and the one their organizations have.”

Whether your leaders are new to their roles or seasoned, managing people in the new hybrid workplace requires new skills. As a colleague said, “To manage people,  I am now a COVID police, daycare and elder care advisor, Zoom expert, and you name it!”

Managers with a “my way or the highway” style will do nothing but send your business traveling down a destructive road. Employees do not want bosses who only view them as worker bees producing honey for the bottom line. Educate leaders that they must demonstrate to staff  WIIIFYAM – What Is In It For You AND Me. 

Help Staff Find Life, Work, Healthy Aging Success

 Studies show that more people desire purpose in their work. In my book, “The Okinawa in Me: Finally Finding My IKIGAI (Reason for Being!)” I discuss that not only does purpose help staff find life, work and healthy aging success, it can also add seven good years to their lives

You will retain top talent and solve your labor shortage if staff feel they can find purpose, life, work, and healthy aging success by working for you!

Cape Cod resident Martha R. A. Fields is a consultant, educator, inspirational speaker and the author of eight books. She is president and CEO of an international management consulting firm, OKI ME, LLC which provides consulting, leadership development, executive coaching and educational programs to help organizations understand how to solve their labor shortages. Fields can be reached at 919-576-3649 or at