The Eagle Blog

The Inevitable Labor Shortages … Coming Soon!

People are the life blood of any organisation, so when (a) you don’t have enough of them or (b) they are not the right people … then you have a problem!

Finding the right people is only going to get tougher as the world’s economies recover, companies start to expand, projects come on stream and everyone wants to “get stuff done”. This will be compounded by the affects of demographics, the retiring baby boomers leaving the workforce and not enough “Millenials” to replace them.

Obviously we don’t live in a black and white world, but there are extremes when it comes to approaching this issue. Here are a couple of (real world) examples of ways to address the coming labour shortages.

The Strategic Recruiting Initiative.

Some companies will already have a plan that will include such components as:

– campus recruiting (for those future needs);
– internal training and promotions (that ensures retention and best use of existing staff);
– and a recruiting strategy that includes
> a branding component designed to attract top talent,
> an acquisition strategy that identifies sources and means of getting at top talent,
> a streamlined internal process that ensures that once talent is found they move very quickly through the hiring process, and
> an onboarding process that assimilates the new people into the organization quickly and efficiently.

These forward thinking companies will recognize that they may have trouble ramping up rapidly and so they will also have backup plans that will include options such as:

– Acquisition of competitors or smaller companies;
– Contract labour;
– Temporary help;
– Outsourcing;
– Offshoring; and
– Partnering.

The “Fly By The Seat of Your Pants” Recruiting Initiative

There are other companies that will not be so “forward thinking”. They will wake up one day and realize that they don’t have enough people. Most often they will adopt reactive strategies that will put band-aids on their problem or they will fail to find the people they need which will adversely affect their growth plans, projects and corporate goals.

These companies may get every employment agency they can find to work on their “urgent needs”, creating confusion in the marketplace and sending a message to the candidates that they don’t really have a handle on things. They will likely not have a streamlined process to deal with a large influx of candidates which will means they will lose a large percentage of those rare people that they have managed to find, because by the time they get through the process they have job offers in hand from elsewhere. They likely won’t have a consistent message to market (Branding) and their many agencies will all develop their own messages resulting in misinformation, a poor candidate experience and ultimately a painful process.

Other Behaviours …

Some of the other things that companies do when trying to hire new staff include:

Posting their jobs on all the job boards and expecting the great candidates to show up. Many of the best people are already employed, and if you need the best then you need a “recruiting campaign” using professionals.

Engaging agencies but negotiating such a poor deal that the agencies are not very motivated to work on their jobs. The reality is that many recruiters are paid on commission so if they can place someone with a rare skill set into a job where they get a reasonable market price, versus a job where the client has negotiated “a deal” then they will earn more. What do you think will happen?

Some companies will ramp up a large internal recruiting capability. This may work, if well managed and staffed by committed professionals … but VERY often these internal recruiters will end up using external agencies so the client pays the agency fee plus the price of their internal staff. Again… the ROI needs to be carefully managed and the productivity of the internal recruiters managed.

Some facts about the labour market in Canada …

> We have an aging workforce … there are more people leaving the workforce than entering it.
> Immigrants will be the SOLE source of net labour growth by 2011 (next year)!
> Canada will be competing for those immigrants with every other industrial nation.

This means we will have acute labour shortages VERY soon. Think about Calgary in its boom times not so long ago, with “Help Wanted” posters in every store and with some small stores having to shut down for lack of available help!

Companies NEED to develop effective, pragmatic approaches to their labour requirements into the foreseeable future. Every large company will need to consider all of the components in the Strategic Recruiting Initiative described above and even then they will be lucky to meet their needs.

What is your company doing to address the coming labour shortages?

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