Hiring the hourly workforce has always been a battle. And after more than two years of feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every aspect of our lives has been transformed, especially when it comes to running a business. Developing strategies that included social distancing and contactless methods and tactics dominated most service industry businesses.

Now that most restrictions are lifted and many of people are getting back to normalcy, the biggest challenge is finding and retaining hourly workers.

There’s no other way to put it: we’re witnessing a severe scarcity of applicants. In February 2022, 4.35 million workers left their jobs, bringing the total number of people who are currently unemployed to 6.27 million. There were 11.27 million openings in February, which slightly down from January, but still means there is a record 5 million more openings than job seekers.

Despite getting creative with perks — like paying candidates just to show up for an interview, signing bonuses, and debt-free degrees — and raising hourly wages, many businesses are still struggling to stay open.

So what’s going on? How can there be so many unemployed workers, yet so many unfilled jobs? There are a few reasons:

  • Many workers are not being offered enough hours
  • COVID-19 health concerns continue to linger
  • At-home care is still needed
  • Candidates are holding out for higher wages
  • People are taking this opportunity to switch industries and careers
  • The gig mindset and desire for flexible work schedules

It’s a perfect storm, exacerbated by the fact that service industry businesses around the country are all trying to ramp up at the same time. The reality is, employers whose businesses depend heavily upon hourly workers must be more agile than ever and be willing to adapt their recruiting and retention strategies, now. Fortunately, with the right talent management tech stack that supports very specific best practices, you can position yourself and your business for success.

Below are some of the immediate measures you can take to attract, engage, hire, and retain talent during this unprecedented people crisis:

  • Promote your employer brand and culture
  • Deliver an applicant experience built on speed and communication
  • Tap your employees and talent community
  • Focus on retention

Adopting a multi-pronged recruiting and retention strategy that consists of these elements will undoubtedly help you to compete more effectively within these incredibly complex market conditions. We don’t know when — if ever — things will get back to “normal” but we do know that companies who implement the strategies we’ve recommended have seen applicant flow increase by as much as 369%. What could that do for your business?

Download our guide to learn more about why there are so many job openings and a few of the ways to immediately increase your applicant flow, decrease your time to hire, and more.

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