While the Pandemic is getting a lot of well deserved attention, the 2020’s are also bringing another phenomenon that will have a huge impact on businesses and even society in general.  We are entering the Great Sansdemic.

 

In December of 2021, there were 6 million job openings available that didn’t require a college degree.  However, there are only 3.4 million people without college degrees who are actively seeking employment.  That’s 2.6 million jobs that will go unfilled.

 

A “sansdemic” is simply a shortage of labor.  What is causing our current sansdemic?  Well, I can remember my Dad telling me that the 2020’s would be a difficult time in business because we would have a shortage of workers.  When did he tell me that?  He was warning me in the 1980’s when I was still in school!  How did he know?

 

It turns out that it takes about 20 years to create a worker and the US hasn’t been building workers fast enough.  The Baby Boomer generation is starting to retire at a rate of 10,000 people per day, and the next generation simply isn’t big enough to fill the gaps.  This problem isn’t limited to 2021.  In fact, this demographic labor shortage will get worse throughout the 2020’s.

 

At the same time, the Pandemic happened and it shifted the paradigm for a lot of people.  Many people worked from home and experienced unprecedented flexibility and they liked it.  Now the “quit rate” in the US is at unprecedented levels leading to what is being coined “the Great Resignation”.  In July of 2021, for example, 4 million people quit their jobs and started looking for something better.  The Millennials are leading the charge which means that many resignations are occurring in mid level jobs.  People are leaving for better work, more pay, and better work-life integration.  

 

The Sansdemic and Resignation are combining to create a huge challenge for employers that will continue for the next few years.  There aren’t enough people to fill all the jobs, meaning some companies will win and some will lose.  Organizations have already had to close because they couldn’t find people and more will follow.  

 

So what can you do to make sure you can find the people you need?  You will simply need to make sure you are a better employer than other businesses.  How do you do that?  Here are some tips.

 

1.  Work on Your Culture - Culture is incredibly powerful in that it influences engagement levels which have a direct impact on profitability as well as your ability to attract and retain talent.  Healthy cultures aren’t just about potluck suppers and ping pong tables.  They are about balancing empowerment and alignment.  They are about performing at a high level.  

 

2.  Beef Up Your Benefits - Yes, some people will leave jobs for money, but there are other benefits to consider.  Consider all of the benefits you offer to your employees and beef them up.  This includes traditional benefits such as pay and insurance, but it also includes things like time off and other perks.  Executives who spend too much time longing for the good ole days when they could just pay people to work will find themselves losing the battle.

 

3.  Get Flexible - Employers are starting to rethink the idea of work life balance.  Is it really important that everyone shows up to the office every day?  Do you really need to track work hours as long as the work is getting done?  Why not give your people time off to attend their kids field day if they are willing to make up the work during off hours.  The pandemic showed a lot of employers and employees how flexible they could be.  Old school corporate cultures that are mired in complex policies and rules will find themselves with plenty of open positions.  

 

4.  Train Your Managers - Employees often don’t quit the company, but rather quit their manager.  The reason is that too many managers are not trained on how to manage people effectively.  The result is that there are frankly a lot of ineffective managers out there.   Train your managers and arm them with skills to support, challenge, and nurture their employees while holding them accountable.

 

As an organization, your future depends on your ability to attract and retain talent.  In the past, you could find people because they needed jobs.  The balance of power has shifted.  You need workers and they are going to be more and more careful about choosing their employer. 

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