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Struggling With Labor Shortages? Adjusting Your Workplace Policies May Be the Solution. 9 Future-Proof Updates You Should Make Today.

Author: Future Proof Advisors

Labor shortages continue to plague businesses across multiple industries. We are hearing about it constantly from biz leaders, the media, and politicians. There is no denying that companies today are struggling to innovate and meet customer demand due to a lack of top talent. There are, of course, many reasons for these shortages that employers can’t control (Covid-related illness, the “great reshuffle,” government benefits, aging population, etc.), but it’s important to remember that every problem is an opportunity.  So instead of focusing on what you can’t control, take action on what you can. There’s no better time to look inward for the potential cause behind your staffing difficulties. One place to start: your internal workplace policies.  We’ve outlined 9 updates below that you should consider making today to increase your employer attractiveness and remain competitive in difficult times.

Before we launch into our recommendations, note that each suggestion shares a common theme – they are all aimed to improve the work experience, and ultimately company culture – the holy grail of any organization.  A healthy, thriving culture filled with people who want to be there every day is critical. Never forget that “winners want to work with winners,” and if you effectively create that atmosphere, your recruiting will become a whole lot easier.  Some business leaders may wrestle with making these adjustments, but as we always say “Change is inevitable. Struggle is optional.” So accept this new world of work and embrace the opportunity to future-proof.

  1. Remote & Hybrid Work. Did you know that workers who commute to an office spend an extra $5,000 per year compared to those who work from home? There’s no question that most employees prefer to work from home, at least on some days. Drastically reducing employee commutes is a huge retention boost (not to mention better for the environment). Remote work doesn’t just benefit the employee, it is a huge help for employers struggling with labor shortages. Remote work widens and diversifies the talent pool allowing recruiting to take place in other cities, states, and even countries. At Future Proof Advisors, we practice what we preach by working with team members and partners across five different continents (Zoom is a wonderful thing!) Of course, not every company can offer remote or hybrid for every position, therefore, offering schedule flexibility may be the way to go. Employers that develop systems that give employees more autonomy while still ensuring work deadlines get met, shifts are covered, etc. will fare much better in this new world of work. Flexibility can help prevent burnout, keep employees engaged, and believe it or not, improve productivity as employees can focus on tasks at hand when they are in the right mindset to do so. 
  2. Go Beyond Just Allowing Remote Work – Offer Remote Work Stipends. A lot of companies are offering remote and hybrid work options to their employees today and for good reason. Companies that implement work-from-home policies, even just 2-3 days per week, can save up to $11,000 for every employee. These savings come from reduced operational costs like lease expenses, office supplies, utilities, insurance, upkeep and repair, as well as those linked to increased productivity and lower absenteeism. So why not pass some of these savings on by offering benefits and stipends for remote workers? Consider paying for expenses like internet and mobile bills, or even a portion of their utilities like power bills. Try sending quarterly office supply care packages, providing easy access to IT support, or even giving annual stipends for home office furniture.  The extra care and attention you provide will set you apart from other companies that offer similar policies.
  3. Update Salary & Compensation Packages. This is likely a no-brainer, but it’s probably time to rethink your compensation packages. Employees are feeling the impact of the rise in inflation, while wages often stay the same. They are also aware if you’ve already raised your prices. Therefore, it’s likely time to also increase salaries across the board for open positions if you want to attract top talent. If that is too much of a strain for your particular business, consider profit-sharing programs and/or performance-based bonuses that are spelled out in advance for each employee – ensuring all of your collective goals are aligned. Additional options like signing bonuses and stock options are also benefits to consider. The bottom line: Be open to creative compensation packages which could be more incentive-based. 
  4. Update Your Benefits Package. Company benefits packages rarely get a proper overhaul. Employee needs, especially post-pandemic, have changed. It’s time for you to follow suit.  Many potential employees, especially women, are kept out of the labor market entirely due to childcare and eldercare needs. Employers that subsidize the costs of this care will alleviate the burden and attract more workers to your company. Beyond childcare, rethink your paid sick leave policies (not just for the employee, but allowing time off to care for sick loved ones), and don’t neglect mental health benefits and leave. And of course, it’s beyond time to upgrade vacation policies. It’s not just about time given (in fact, unlimited vacation policies are now seen as a negative for some employees), it’s about encouraging your employees to take the time. Create a culture where recharging and taking a break is a requirement, not a perk.
  5. Turn to Automation For Admin Tasks & Limit Meetings. Burnout is another top reason employees leave their job. To help alleviate the potential for employee burnout, future-proof your internal systems to limit mundane admin tasks. Automation and AI can improve systems and efficiency and let your employees focus on higher-level innovation and value drivers. Another way to keep employees engaged and focused on the task at hand – limit the number of meetings. A recent survey found that employees say they don’t need to be in nearly one-third of the meetings they attend. Employees spend 18 hours per week in meetings, and they only decline 14% even though they’d prefer to back out of 31%. Noncritical meeting attendance wastes $25,000 per employee annually.  What’s more, the survey found that poorly managed meetings or too many meetings can hurt employee engagement and boost their intention to quit.  So rethink your meeting strategy at your organization and empower employees to decline meetings they deem unnecessary.
  6. Increase Communication, Transparency & Engagement. No longer is it acceptable to keep employees in the dark about business performance or operations. Many employees cite wanting to be their own bosses as a reason for leaving a job. This tells us something very important – they want more ownership and autonomy. One way to help satisfy that need is to allow more visibility into the company’s inner workings and allow employees to participate in some decision-making. You will be amazed by the contributions that can drive your business forward. And be sure to always openly and transparently communicate both the good and the bad of running a business. Your staff needs to feel ownership over the day-to-day and shouldn’t be blindsided by any news or announcements that could impact their jobs. Don’t be afraid to engage more with them and share more information too. Great things can happen when employees feel they are on “the same side of the table” as leadership. This approach improves culture, which will dramatically help attract more employees.
  7. Provide Training & Education. If you want your employees to continue to improve and add value to your organization, then provide the tools they need to build upon their careers. Ongoing training and education are essential to creating great employees and leaders of the future. Employees who feel they are learning new skills and are being invested in are likely to stay longer at a business. And when they do leave and seek other opportunities, they are sure to refer your company to their friends and colleagues, helping to create positive word of mouth that will continue to fuel your talent pool.
  8. Encourage Side Hustles. Employers typically frown upon employees having side hustles or other part-time gigs – and they shouldn’t. This may sound crazy, but the sooner you realize your employees aren’t going to be around forever, and many are looking to start their own businesses or move beyond your organization, the more open you will be to seeing the benefits that this new workforce can bring. In fact, after engaging with their side gigs in the evening, people perform better the next day in their full-time jobs. The data maintains that psychological empowerment from side hustles actually enriches full-time work performance. We’ve even seen some companies help support their employee’s side hustles with seed investment and/or by offering resources.  Acknowledging and encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit has proven to go a long way. Happy, engaged employees are a massive benefit to the productivity and success of your business.
  9. Richer Recruiting Referral Policy. One of the greatest sources of recruiting is your own employees. But yet, there are some companies where employees don’t feel like they are part of recruiting efforts or don’t feel incentivized to be a part of the process.  Encourage employee referrals and participation in attracting talent by making their efforts worth their while. We’ve seen bonuses as high as $10k paid to employees who successfully recruit someone for an open role.  When you consider the high cost of turnover and the value of a trusted employee personally bringing in someone they vouch for, the probability of a successful new hire is much greater (not to mention the increased loyalty you are sure to gain from both of those employees).  We know paying bonuses of this size isn’t realistic for every business,  but any incentive (smaller bonuses? gifts?) you can manage could inspire tremendous, recurring, and highly effective results.

Labor shortages may not be going away any time soon, but you can make adjustments starting now that will greatly enhance your chances of attracting the talent you need, and keeping the talent you have, to ensure your business stays thriving. 

If you have any questions or want more tips on how to tackle labor shortages, reach out at 

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