Blog & News

This is a premium post...

If you are not an AIM member - Consider joining. AIM Members receive access to all our premium content online.

If you're an AIM member please login to your AIM account to view this post:

Back to Posts

No laborers? No problem!

Posted on September 14, 2023

How companies can cope with industry-wide labor shortages

By Annemarie Abdo, Vice President of Human Resources, Catania Oils

Several industries including manufacturing are all too familiar with staffing obstacles, especially after COVID-19 amplified already-existing issues. Whether it’s a lack of applicants with specialized knowledge, competition for a small applicant pool among companies in the same industry, or economic barriers causing skilled workers to leave for states with a less expensive cost of living, the pool of potential employees is smaller than ever. Discover how your company can overcome staffing obstacles and thrive, considering these four staffing solutions:

Embrace diverse applicant pools: Ensure your positions accommodate a wider range of applicants. Though laws exist to prevent discrimination in hiring, stigma and lack of accommodation often prevent members of certain groups from applying at all. By accommodating, among others, non-English speakers, individuals with disabilities, those over 60, and veterans and military spouses who possess the necessary skills and motivation, you can tap into a valuable and often overlooked talent pool while diversifying your workforce. For example, by offering ESL classes, Catania Oils has attracted skilled employees with valuable new perspectives. In addition, offering part-time positions opens doors for students, parents, and retirees who can contribute significantly. Adapting roles to fit available applicant pools, rather than competing for a limited group, reduces hiring stress and fosters a more inclusive work environment.

Get creative with outreach: During a labor shortage, reaching the largest possible audience is crucial. Posting job openings online may be an obvious tactic, but if your positions can be modified to part-time, ensure that you are advertising on both part- and full-time labor websites. Posting open positions on social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Instagram can also be helpful as many jobseekers use social media daily. One underrated outreach method is community service, which offers a myriad of benefits for everyone. Getting involved in local events increases the community’s awareness of opportunities at your company and helps build relationships with local individuals, families, and organizations. This relationship-building and dedication to improving the local community bolster your company’s reputation and attractiveness amongst local job seekers.

Tune in to current employees: Feedback from current employees via consistent surveys can help a company implement measures to successfully attract new workers. Catania Oils conducts engagement surveys three times per year, and, consistent with the general shift in attitude towards in-person work, found that many employees were reluctant to work in-person for five days a week in the wake of COVID-19. As a manufacturing company, Catania Oils can’t offer 100% remote positions, but offering the option to work one day from home allows the company to remain a strong competitor for prospective applicants. Additionally, strategically implementing more drastic measures could pay off overall. For example, our 4-day workweek program will soon be expanded to additional departments due to the positive impact it has had on employee work ethic and morale for a pilot group. Prospective applicants may be incentivized by opportunities for personal and professional growth, such as courses or ESL classes. It may be challenging to implement these measures, but the effort will pay dividends in the long run.

Collaboration is Key: Forming partnerships with state organizations can help you implement measures like the ones described above or hire the best fit for an open position. In Massachusetts, organizations like MassHire are consistently helpful in matching strong applicants to positions where they thrive. Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) is an industry-specific organization dedicated to helping manufacturers grow. Partnering with such organizations simplifies the hiring process and increases awareness of your company, consequently enlarging its applicant pool. Partnering with schools is also a fantastic way to attract eager, young applicants. Consider planning open houses for students and/or parents or offering tours for school groups. These events encourage young people to envision themselves in an industry or company they may not have considered before. Recent graduates also bring enthusiasm and a desire to learn, providing long-term value to your organization. Additionally, collaborating with other companies in your industry instead of working against them when hiring employees is mutually beneficial. Someone may not be a fit for your company but has the skills and personality to fill a desperately needed role at another company. If you refer the applicant, the other company may be more likely to reciprocate when they encounter an applicant who might be a better fit for you.

Prioritizing effective hiring practices is crucial for sustained growth and competitiveness. While these strategies won’t make the labor shortage disappear, Catania Oils has seen firsthand how they can mitigate its impact by securing additional candidates for open positions. By embracing inclusive strategies and adapting to the evolving labor landscape, companies can better navigate industry-wide labor shortages and continue to grow and thrive despite the odds.