Where Did All the Workers Go?

There are not enough traditional workers to fill the needs of employers any more. McKinsey research shows that only 35% of people who quit their jobs in the last two years remained in the same industry! 48% moved to a different industry, and 17% did not return to the workforce. So where can you find workers? There are 5 different types of workers, but employers are still mostly focusing on one type, the traditionalists. Traditionalists are career-oriented and are willing to make trade-offs in work-life balance in return for competitive compensation and perks, good job titles, and career advancement. They are easier to find through common recruiting strategies. But there aren’t enough traditionalists to fill the demand for employees. Where are the rest, and how can you reach them?

  1. Relaxers. This is the largest segment of the latent workforce. This group is a mix of retirees, those not looking for work, and those who might return to work under the right circumstances. Many have retired from their traditional careers and might not need money to live comfortably. So their value proposition includes the promise of meaningful work. Only 20% of these people are currently looking to return to the workforce, so employers need to get creative about finding them and luring them back. Thinking completely outside the box: How could you attract and retain volunteers? Of course, you’ll actually pay your workforce, but this will tell you how to attract the retain relaxers as well as your existing talent. Another way to ask this question is this: if a key department won the lottery tomorrow, how many would continue to work for you? And why? That’s your answer to retaining your current talent and finding relaxers.
  2. Do-it-yourselfers. They want workplace flexibility, meaningful work and compensation. They tend to be 25-45 years old, and include self-employed, gig and part-time workers. Ways of attracting them include defining meaningful tasks that can be accomplished independently, and/or managing outcomes rather than activities. Work location (e.g. work from home) might be a primary motivator.
  3. Caregivers and others who are at home. They are predominantly between 18 and 44. While they are motivated by compensation, they also look for flexible schedules, support for employee health and well-being, and career development. They could be lured by part-time options, four-day workweeks, flexible hours, and/or expanded benefits packages
  4. Idealists. They tend to be 18-24, and many are students or part-time workers. They are looking for career development, meaningful work, and a community of reliable and supportive people. Many could be attracted by tuition subsidies coupled with flexible work schedules that can accommodate classes.

Let me know how these ideas work for you.




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