How Business Owners Can Navigate Pressing Labor Shortages

By Chuck Bentley Published on July 21, 2021

The U.S. labor shortage is holding back the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The worker shortage is real — and it’s getting worse by the day,” Suzanne Clark, the President and CEO of the Chamber, said in a statement. “The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence,” she said.

Much has already been said and written about the likely reasons for this phenomenon, not the least of which is that the unemployment packages for displaced workers have created disincentives to go back to work. As one former hospitality worker posted in response to an article pointing this out, “We typically do not get paid vacations or holidays; we are taking advantage of it while we can.” Regardless of the root causes, I propose three possible solutions for business owners who cannot find folks interested in filling your job vacancies.

Recast Your Approach to Hiring

Not only do most people land interviews for job openings through referrals, but innovative companies can also find their best hires in the same way. Use social media and personal networking to get the word out that an exciting opportunity awaits the right person. Incentivize your current employees to join the effort.

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People are not attracted to a job that seemingly nobody else wants. Get your marketing firm involved in identifying the tangible and intangible benefits of working in your firm. If you cannot compete with the current unemployment compensation, come up with a performance-based comp plan that will make your offer attractive.

A friend of mine recently posted such an opportunity on LinkedIn for a topflight Executive Assistant. He made it clear that he was looking for a contributor to the success of the organization, not simply someone to crank out rote administrative duties.

Make Your Culture Magnetic

The key to any organization is the character and capacity of your people. But often, the next level differentiator is their attitude. Consider a skills or gifting assessment on each person that works for you to ensure that they are operating within their strengths. This increases the likelihood that they succeed and make the best contribution possible to the growth of the company. Reward them for going above and beyond to deliver excellent service with great attitudes. Others will notice and begin knocking on your door.

Having just spent the last few months looking for contractors to complete some repairs and upgrades to our home, we noticed a distinct difference between the workers who entered our home. Some were dour and disengaged. We even overheard one making critical comments about the owner of the company to his co-workers. Although hard workers, it was obvious they did not like their job or the culture of their company. Others were polite, cheerful, and proud of the job they were doing. They seemed to be motivated to serve their employer well by taking good care of the customer. Great employees have friends and families that will help you find folks like them.

Look in Unexpected Places

Business owners move in many circles but often do not consider them as places to look for their next hire. I once met an outstanding Service Manager at a car dealership. He was so good that I complimented him on his knowledge, speed, and professionalism. He was quick to share that he was “compensated double the industry average because he could outwork three typical employees!” I followed up with a question, “How did they find you?” He said he was working in a small mechanic shop but earned extra money on weekends hired out on a pit crew for a local race car driver. He said the owners of the dealership spotted him from the bleachers and sent a message to come in and apply for a job. He then added, “The rest is history.”

Consider people that you may have never thought of at church, your club, or places you travel. With more than 60% of employees stating they are unhappy in their current job, opportunities to directly recruit abound. Only recently did I meet a great person at our church who now works from home part time for Crown. She happened to mention the skills she had, and I immediately took notice. It has been a win-win for both of us.

Too often, we follow conventional online means that are impersonal and overcrowded. With some extra effort, both you, your new hire, and your company can benefit.

Crown’s Career Direct assessment is available to help you better manage the talents of your staff.


Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown Financial — an organization that helps people improve their finances and promotes stewardship values all over the world.

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