Today's business leaders are faced with a landscape that's unlike any they've likely encountered in their lifetimes. No matter where you look, labour markets are tighter than they've ever been, driving a fierce competition for skilled job candidates in almost every industry. At the same time, the pace of technological change and rapidly aging populations are causing an explosion in demand for labour in several sectors at the same time – leading to some pretty severe skill shortages.
To the untrained eye, these factors appear to be a perfect storm of sorts; the kind of thing that should make business managers nervous – but by and large, confidence is up and businesses are booming. The seeming contradiction between market forces and results is being driven by the fact that business leaders have realized something very important. It is possible to thrive in a tight labour market by deploying some clever strategies, and that it's resulting in employees who are more loyal and more engaged than ever. Here's what they're doing.
Find them wherever they are
When the Internet took off and became the backbone of all modern economies, it created plenty of new opportunities for businesses to enter markets they would never have had access to otherwise. Now, the same is proving to be true about labour markets, as well. To offset difficult hiring environments, an increasing number of businesses are turning to remote workers that are often located far from their local markets. Some, like automation app development firm Zapier, are even providing employees with assistance to move away from their San Francisco home base because they recognize that it's a great way to attract top talent and drive engagement.
Upskilling beats recruiting
In addition to broadening their searches for needed talent, businesses all over are beginning to realign their talent acquisition pipelines in a tacit admission that the tight labour markets aren't a momentary trend, but that they represent the new normal. The biggest adjustment that many are making is that they're reallocating budgets away from recruiting efforts and into retraining programs. It's a tactic that's especially prevalent in the tech sector, but there's every reason to believe that it will become far more widespread in the years to come. In that way, companies can not only meet their own talent acquisition goals but also create a more engaged and satisfied workforce.
Outreach efforts pay dividends
Another way that businesses are reacting to the labour crunch is by targeting traditionally untapped pools of talent. If you examine the detailed employment figures of most large economies, you'll notice that the top-line employment figure often hides several demographic groups that are performing worse than the average. Younger workers, veterans, and workers that live outside of major metro areas all make excellent targets in most cases. By designing recruitment efforts to address those groups directly, it's often possible to create a much larger pool of qualified candidates than would result from normal recruiting practices. In addition, some companies are also going to great lengths to identify workers that are underemployed, as they may be willing to change jobs even if they weren't looking for other employment.
Modern businesses are coming around to the reality that they're going to have to take a far more active role in creating the workforce that they need to keep thriving. The days when they could simply dangle a lucrative benefits package and wait for the resumés to flood in may be gone for good. The education industry can't be counted on to react to the rapid pace of change that's upending many industries fast enough to ensure an uninterrupted supply of qualified workers, so the only solution is to cast a wider net and be willing to train people to fill specific roles that would otherwise sit vacant. In the long run, the changes they're making to their recruiting and training practices will be beneficial not only to themselves but to the societies they operate within, and that's good for everyone. It's exactly the kind of virtuous circle that should be the goal of every company in every industry, and a rare example of necessity giving rise to one.