2022 will likely mark a significant milestone in the United States’ economic recovery from the pandemic. While the size of the nation’s labor force – the number of people who are either working or looking for work – will likely exceed its pre-pandemic peak in the coming months, finding workers is a pressing challenge for employers.
The first wave of the pandemic had an unprecedented impact on the nation’s labor force. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, 4.8 million workers left their job and stopped looking for work between February and June of 2020 – the single largest decline observed since recording began in 1948. Shortly after, the “Great Resignation” took place, in which an unprecedented number of workers resigned or retired from their positions.
These two profound shifts, occurring in quick succession, created a whiplash effect that left employers struggling to find workers and called into question many of the long-held expectations around the nature of hiring and work in general.
Newmark’s Global Corporate Services Global Strategy and Consulting experts conduct interviews with hundreds of businesses and community leaders each year to gain a comprehensive understanding of current labor market conditions. Finding and retaining qualified workers has consistently been the top concern for businesses across all sectors over the last two years. Specific challenges include finding middle- and senior-level managers, especially as more professionals work remotely. A nationwide skilled trades shortage is so severe that many facilities are operating at reduced capacity.
In response, many employers are implementing four new strategies, including:
Education: Changing entry-level education requirements.
A bachelor’s degree has long been a requirement for entry-level professional jobs, however more employers are now considering whether such qualifications are necessary, especially for in-demand occupations. Changing job postings to require an associate degree plus work experience or post-secondary credential plus work experience, rather than a bachelor’s degree, can significantly increase applicant pools.
Job Offers: Extending job offers earlier in the interview process.
As the labor market tightens, interview processes, which once took several weeks, are now advancing quicker as competitive employers are making offers earlier on in the process.
Talent: Engaging untapped talent.
Engaging social networks and employee referrals to find new workers can yield success, however many of these pipelines are quickly drying up for some sectors, such as manufacturing. Successful manufacturers in today’s labor market are connecting with a more diverse pool of applicants. Businesses that excel in this area are setting company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, recruiting skilled labor from immigrant communities, and providing paid time off for cultural holidays.
Culture: Companies are creating culture that reflects employee values.
Successful businesses are also setting themselves apart from their competitors through a renewed focus on company culture. Company values can be a major selling point to new employees entering the workforce. Having a culture that supports long-term employee growth keeps employees engaged and retains institutional knowledge within the company.
While many of these strategies are aimed at addressing immediate labor challenges, now is also the best time to focus on workforce development for the long-term. Policymakers can partner with business and community leaders to develop long-term strategic workforce plans that identify where shortages exist today, and use data-driven analysis to match future demand for workers with degree and certificate programs offered in each labor market. Identifying gaps and implementing solutions that address these gaps can ensure communities remain economically competitive now and into the future.
Perspectives is a collection of stories and commentary from the
point of view of our people, about capabilities,
expertise, and insights on the ever-changing world of commercial real estate.
Views and opinions expressed belong to the authors and contributors of each