Last month, we asked employers this question, and 67% of our respondents said workforce issues will be their biggest challenge. Their answers parallel what other studies have shown us about the tightening of the labor market.
Difficulty finding qualified workers:
One aspect of workforce challenges raised by several respondents is the difficulty finding qualified workers with specific industry experience.
Although the unemployment rate is still higher than we’d like, many of the more qualified workers are once again employed. Employers may have to look for workers with ancillary experience that can translate to their specific industry, or consider implementing their own apprenticeship or training programs to develop their own trained workforce.
Pressure to increase compensation levels:
Compensation levels are also a concern for employers. We know that wages on the Kitsap Peninsula have traditionally been significantly lower than other parts of the Puget Sound. But the pressure is now on for employers to raise their wages in order to attract and retain a qualified workforce.
A recent survey from ADP showed that wages rose by 4.5% in the 3rd quarter of 2014 in the private sector. And even more interesting: when workers changed jobs, their wages rose an average of 5.6%.
Wages have been stagnant during the great recession, and workers will now jump ship in order to obtain the wage progression they lacked in the last six years.
Retaining & rewarding a diverse, motivated workforce:
Lastly, employers expressed concern about their ability to retain and reward a diverse, committed, and energized workforce.
Employee engagement is a key component of a productive workplace. Having a diverse workforce is a strength, but also a challenge as we develop our programs to energize and motivate our employees.
A flexible benefits package combined with innovative employee rewards are key ingredients for talent retention. Many companies, like Zappos, are turning conventional workplace theories upside down.
The tightening job market is an opportunity for all of us to think outside the box in order to attract and retain our talent.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 2.8 million Americans quit their jobs in September, the highest level since April 2008.
Clearly, our employees are seeing new opportunities opening up to them. Employers are right to recognize workforce challenges as the number one issue they are likely to face in the coming year.