During the pandemic, many employees were fired due to the limitations of the employers. However, tables are turning as the demand for workers is high and the employers have to pursue the workers now. About 4.3 million people resigned from their jobs leaving about 10.4 million seats open for recruitment in the USA. As the inflation is increasing, so is the expectation of the workers as they refuse to settle with the wage they had received before the pandemic.
However, there is a way to ease the tension between the employer and employees, which is by increasing the wages. Companies like Amazon, Under Armor and McDonalds have already raised their wage in order to combat labor shortages.Even if employees claim that whatever they are doing is in the national interest, we have to assess whether that is actually the case or not. Because if that was true then we would not have needed to establish the National Minimum Wage.
Boosting workers pay in the US
Now as if increasing the minimum wage was not challenging enough, the employers have to offer a little more to their employees. Companies such as Papa John’s who go the extra mile to give their employees appreciation bonuses. The ever changing and highly competitive labor market is keeping the HR busy as they are having to figure out interesting and relevant development programs to stay loyal to their employers.
Apart from increasing the wage even for newcomers in the company, the employers are also designing special training programs that focus on building new skill sets of the employers. This will ensure they have the knowledge they require in order to excel. The programs are also designed in such a way so that it will not get in the way of the worker’s day to day tasks. The programs take place for 6-7 months so the workers won’t have to invest a long time to build new skills.
Don’t hail the companies just yet
Before you clap for the companies that raised their wages, you must understand their motive behind it. These large and well established companies have always been depriving their customers from the rightful wages they deserve. So increasing this amount of wage is only providing the workers their well earned money. This wage increase did not put a scratch on the revenue of these companies. Hence they are investing the extra money on building a good image in front of the public. Even the full time workers of these companies do not earn enough. On top of that, the pandemic has added extra costs to their lifestyles.
However, even though these highly established companies can easily afford to increase their wage, small companies that run under a tight revenue margin will have a hard time to increase their wages. The increase in wage will only make it difficult for small companies to recruit workers and keep up with their escalating expectations.
UK companies can’t find workers even after raising salaries
If the companies continue to undergo the current staff shortages, they will fail to attain recovery and growth. There are many companies who confirmed that they failed to recruit enough workers despite raising their wages. Even the catering and hospital sectors are finding it quite difficult to recruit staff.
If this staff shortage is not managed by the government, then the citizens will receive less and less services and benefits. The price of everyday goods will increase a lot if the companies do not find a solution soon. Hence, the Bank of England will be forced to increase interest rates in order to combat the overflowing inflation. If the companies fail to acquire an adequate number of workers from their local workers, then they should consider hiring foreign workers. They can also make the hiring process run smoother by giving short term visas to foreign workers.
Embracing the new way of working
The workers are coming back to work in the office as the restrictions are slowly being lifted. But we cannot pretend that things are going to be exactly how they used to be. After working from home for so long, they will need some time and support to get used to the new working environment. Hence the employers need to be empathetic towards the workers so that everyone feels at ease with this new way of working.
Many companies have offered to provide counseling to employees who feel too overwhelmed. They will also have to become unbiased towards workers who are willing to go back to office right away. They will also have to make sure there is a harmonious ecosystem between both types of workers. They can provide leadership programs so the team leader can keep both types of employees engaged. They will also have to come up with different ways to assess the performance of the employees and how they will be rewarded if they do well in the new environment.
In order to make it a bias free environment, some companies joined the groups on some days and gave them group tasks so that they can learn how to cooperate with each other. This will give them a sense of collectivism. They also made the employees work from home on certain days so that everyone doesn’t feel left out and the workers who are coming to work do not feel burned out. They also tried their best to empathize with their workers as much as possible so that they do not feel bad for not being presentable in the camera while they are working from home and feel pressured to maintain a certain appearance.
Solution to shortages
The Confederation British Industry (CBI) has claimed that the staff shortage is being affected due the lack of visas for foreign workers. However, immigration is not relevant in all cases. Before using immigration to solve worker shortage problems, there are a number of questions that need to be assessed. How serious is the shortage, can it be maintained using the national laborers, will the company be able to bear the cost of the migrated laborers. The UK and US need to consider which sector they have labor shortages. If they have labor shortages in the medicine sector, then they need to consider taking in immigrant employees. However, if they have labor shortages in other sectors which will not affect the economy that drastically, then they will not require more laborers.
Since the cause of the shortage is due to employers not joining for the poor wage, there is not a shortage of people who cannot do the work. So, the migrated workers can also be reluctant to join if the wage is not upto the mark. For example, in sectors such as agricultural, public health,the workers are not satisfied with the pay and working conditions. Hence, the employers cannot compete for the local laborers anymore. They are dependent on the government so that they allow migrant laborers short term visas. However, if there is a shortage of drivers, doctors, then they need to be cautious while recruiting them as they will have to be certified.
However, some workers pointed out that there are many unfair perceptions of the employees which result in the shortage. For example, there are some jobs for which poultry and fish processors are eligible but meat processors are not eligible. The pandemic may contribute to the shortage, nevertheless there always have been certain issues with the recruitment of the workers. There is also the fact that many people moved back to their home country as the living costs are cheaper there. So the employers will have a hard time convincing them to come to the UK and USA.
If there are sectors where the workers are not eligible yet, for example for HGV drivers, if they do not have the required certification, they can easily get certified within a short period of 8-10 weeks by giving the necessary tests. However, in cases where the shortage is due to poor pay, there are many people in the world who would give anything to get a job in the UK. Sectors such as chefs, poultry, fish processors are easy to find, however, some adjustments might be needed. But other sectors are still not eligible to get the skilled worker visa so they must focus on expanding their eligibility. One of the risks of allowing migration is that it takes off the pressure from training the workers. For example, in 2016 the MAC was contemplating whether they should include nurses in the shortage occupation list or not. If they included it, they would be provided priority to allocate work permits. Even though nurses were included in the list for a temporary term, they are still in the shortage occupation list. So, the Department of Health has not succeeded in training enough nurses so they are still having to recruit nurses from abroad.
So if these risks are taken into consideration, the employers will be able to handle the staff shortage and recover and flourish their businesses which will lead to a healthy growth in the economy.
Written By Nawar E Jannat