The ongoing economic upturn has created somewhat of a good news/bad news scenario for small and mid-sized businesses. First, the good news: after many years of contract work, companies are ready to expand and commit to hiring full-time employees again. Now, the not-so-good news: the demand for new employees is quickly outstripping the availability of talented candidates. Most small to medium sized companies are competing for talent in a tight labor market where the best candidates have their pick of job offers.
In the face this severe talent shortage, HR directors must get creative in attracting qualified job applicants. Traditional solutions are no longer adequate. More and more, HR directors are considering nontraditional employees to fill job openings quickly to keep pace with their company’s expansion plans.
Here are three nontraditional solutions to consider to attract the best candidates in a tight labor market.
- Remote workers. Technology has contributed greatly to the rise of the remote worker—an employee who can work from anywhere whether it’s a home office or even a coffee shop. According to a recent Gallup poll, 43 percent of company employees work remotely at least some of the time. By looking outside their own local market, employers can now tap into a significantly larger pool of potential job candidates.
While there are some negatives to the remote work experience, namely less direct interaction, feedback, and connection with other employees, there are ways to overcome these challenges with high-tech tools such as video conferencing, chat apps and cloud-based file-sharing tools. There are also some positives that employees can derive from limited direct interactions with other team members. For one, they are able to focus and work more efficiently with fewer interruptions to distract them from the work at hand.
- Alternative workforce. In today’s business environment, employers are increasingly turning to this nontraditional source of workers, which includes non-permanent employees such as temps, freelancers, independent contractors and workers employed by contract firms. In 2005, the alternative workforce represented 10.7 percent of the employee base. Just 10 years later in 2015, it represented 15.8 percent of total workers.
This trend is clearly set to continue going forward. According to Randstad Sourceright’s 2017 Talent Trends Report, nearly two-thirds of 400 human capital leaders surveyed indicated that they are likely to use more contingent workers in the future. According to the findings of the survey, the talent shortage is the main driver of this trend. More than 80 percent of respondents acknowledged that their firms will be affected by a lack of available, qualified talent in 2017.
Fortunately, there are advantages for companies that hire nontraditional workers, according to Randstad Canada. By opting to hire more contract employees, freelancers and remote workers, your organization can bring more agility to the workplace. You also have access to a wider variety of expertise, encompassing everything from blue-collar and light industrial skills to information technology, engineering, accounting and HR skills. The trend has been helped along by a growing emphasis on the “gig economy,” in which workers move from one job to another working on a variety of diverse projects as company needs arise.
- Internal training. Some of the most profound talent shortages are occurring in the tech industry and skilled trade areas. Additionally, other jobs that employers are struggling to fill include sales representatives, production and machine operators, office support staff, accounting and finance staff and engineers. When employees with special training and skills are not readily available, the best solution may be to “grow your own”—in other words, look internally for sharp, hard-working employees you feel have the best potential to learn the skills you need and then fast-track their professional development by providing specific training to do the jobs you need done.
Investing in current employees is a win-win scenario. You fill positions that finding qualified external candidates for would have been too difficult, and you offer existing employees a career path for advancement that will encourage them to stay and grow with your company for the long term. As I’ve written previously, it’s not about fitting square pegs into round holes, but more about leveraging existing talent that, with a little probing, may prove to be a great fit for the openings you are seeking to fill.