Labor Shortage Solutions – Out of the Box!

Labor Shortage Solutions

Just about every day we hear news of labor shortages in this business or that business, and seemingly everywhere. Is there a retail business or fast food restaurant, or any restaurant for that matter, that’s not seeking employees?

There are some unorthodox steps available to some businesses, and many of these are things we have direct experience in times past. Some were quite successful!

When we attended a retirement party at a very large corporation, the person retiring had recently turned 55. So that person likely has decades of life remaining, and we wondered how would that person fill all that time?

Many, it seems, and especially those well off, can travel, garden, get involved with non-profits, do hobbies, and enjoy this new freedom as long as they can. However, it is our observation that after a year or two some people long for something more challenging. Perhaps some sort of return to work on a limited basis would be appealing?

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s recent article noted that some companies are working with retirees who might be interested in coming back to their jobs. But there may be another option for the same retired population.

We theorize that large corporations could create work situations where more than one retired person would fill a single “job”. If this is feasible then 2-3 people might be organized to perform a standard 40 hour/week job. In the event the company has facilities open beyond the 9-5 norm, some evening or even night “shift” would be appealing to some.

Seems to us a creative HR department ought to be able to build a system to incorporate such a plan and solve some shortages without much difficulty. After all, the corporation maintains a list of retirees, so how difficult would some initial inquiry be? We would bet some retirees would welcome the opportunity for meaningful work but only with a limited schedule. Why not try to find out?

Some worker shortages that require specialized training, schooling, or talents will be more difficult to fill than positions closer to entry level. We have no answer for a company seeking a private plane pilot, PhD scientist, or heavy equipment operator.

On the other hand, if the positions needing to be filled can be accomplished with relatively little training or existing skills, there are some avenues that might be helpful.

One might be to visit local high schools to connect with the guidance counselors. The idea would be to identify quality students not interested at this time in further education and who might be interested in employment. Checking graduation rates should give a clue of which schools might be more fruitful to visit than others. What’s to lose doing this?

Beyond that, there are numerous organizations that deal with helping people with current issues or those trying to recover from past problems.

We have seen that some positions could be filled by the hearing impaired. Some QC or administrative areas are candidates, and in most cases the company’s physical circumstances would require only minimum adjustments.

There are several organizations that work with those returning from prison or those trying to rebuild after substance abuse. Certainly there are some unusual risks when dealing with these people, but in some cases the helping agency can provide some supervisory help. We had great success with one such organization.

Some years ago, a business was formed to help such people. Part of the initial training was to create an atmosphere appropriate for finding work. Attendance and personal hygiene, for example were stressed and compliance with standards was required in order to move forward. A company seeking workers would contact this business and interviews with staff scheduled.

If the situation seemed workable, then the helping organization would provide workers, along with a supervisor for the initial introduction. A buddy type system was recommended in order to ensure close supervision, at least at first. In addition, the helping organization was always at the ready to provide guidance and any other helping possible to ensure success.

Our experience with this agency was excellent. The application was for basic workers; no special skills needed. The company brought in several candidates and from that small batch selected 2-3 who worked out satisfactorily. Everything went very well for the 3 years we were observing, so for at least that period of time a labor problem was solved.

And in the process, we canvassed the greater Cincinnati area and discovered a dozen or more agencies that work with various categories of people. These agencies, some private, some city or county managed, were staffed with people very eager to help with employment of their people.

Maybe worth a try for you?

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