The Labor Shortage – How to Hire New People

A very popular gourmet hamburger chain in Texas reported that pre-pandemic, they would receive well over 100 applicants, every time they posted a job opening. Now however, they tell us their applicants are in the single digits. Are you experiencing the same type of labor shortage, or lack of applicants?

It seems crazy; unemployment is high, but the number of people applying for jobs (at least in our area) is low.  More than a third of Americans without jobs are still long-term unemployed, and federal benefits for these workers, from the pandemic, ended in September 2021. It’s difficult for that to make sense.


Why aren’t people going back to work?

Some experts tell us the main reason people are not returning to work has to do primarily, with fear. The Corona virus variants have potential employees worried about their health. Another fear is getting laid off again, similar to when the country shut down. And finally, individuals are skittish about leaving  the job they currently have to pursue new opportunities; creating a scenario where less people are applying for new job positions.

Other reasons companies aren’t finding applicants stem from worker burn-out. CNN Business News reported that worker burnout is on the rise, hitting women and people of color the hardest. Of the working women CNN surveyed, 41% said they had been working significantly more hours than before the start of the pandemic. The employees in the service industry and those deemed “essential workers” have been making up for worker shortages, while trying to maintain the home-life responsibilities. The overall feeling of constant work, without any downtime, is causing worker burn-out.

We understand some of the reasons people aren’t returning to work, but how does a small business overcome those reasons and attract good employees?


How to hire during labor shortage:

The good news is individuals ARE returning to work and you, the small business owner, are more than ready to hire. Here are some ideas for attracting new talent:

  • Recognize the underlying fear(s) of potential employees. Talk about the issues and address them. Perhaps you could advertise a guaranteed amount of hours.
  • Partner with the local schools like Paris Junior College: Offer internships or training to students who are interested in a career in your field of business.
  • Double check job responsibilities: Is your current staff doing too much unproductive work? Automating some of your systems may help alleviate some of the overtime or long hours for your current employees. Perhaps a shift in responsibilities or change in job description would help. Maybe you think you need another salesperson, but what you really need is a better system for inventory.
  • Offer flexible schedules.
  • Offer benefits or employee perks.
  • Consider short-term contract employees, or employees from a temp-agency. You may find your perfect employee and ultimately hire them permanently.
  • Be open to different personalities: Business owners may get into a habit of hiring the same types of people. Be open to hiring the introvert, the single dad, the goth-girl, or someone on the spectrum…they may surprise you.


How do I attract employees in the service industry?

If you are in a service industry, you’ve been hit hard by the labor shortage. Part of that is due to the fact that many individuals left the service industry for good, in favor of more job stability. Here are some good ideas to overcome the shortage, and to attract potential employment candidates:

  • Get creative in your job posting and recruiting: Is your place of business a fun place to work? Make your job posting playful, reflecting your positive environment.
  • Offer something your competitors aren’t offering. Maybe offer a free meal before or after their shift. A sign-on bonus or a higher starting salary.
  • Incentivize your current staff: Offer a cash bonus for referring a friend.
  • Address those fears again, especially for the potential employee who lost their job during the pandemic. Maybe offer a bonus for staying for 6 months.
    • You might also advertise the ways you have adapted your small business, to make sure you retain your employees if there is another shutdown. (Perhaps you are now offering delivery or curb-side pick-up.)

More good news:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting that total employment in the U.S. economy will grow during 2022, eclipsing the previous decade  (2012 – 2022) by 10.8%. That’s good news for small businesses looking to hire!


For additional information regarding hiring shortages or on how to attract quality labor in the service industry, or in any business, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area:  Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.