If you’ve been having a hard time filling job openings, you’re not alone. Around 4 million adults aren’t looking for jobs, not because they’re scarce but because of worries about catching the coronavirus.
A year after the pandemic arrived in the U.S., 8.4 million fewer Americans are holding jobs.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the most important and least spoken about is fear.
A U.S. Census survey done in mid-March found that approximately 4.2 million adults are not working because they fear getting or spreading the coronavirus.
This helps to explain why some companies say labor is hard to find even though the unemployment rate is 6%. It looks like the only thing that will change this is our ability to get this virus under control.
Their fear is real.
My heart sank when my daughter, who works part-time as a barista while attending college, notified us that one of her co-workers came down with Covid-19. For three days, we all held our breath as she quarantined and waited for her test results to come back.
This situation stressed her out to the point where it began to impact her schoolwork. We begged her to quit her job. Luckily for her employer, she chose to continue working. If this happens again, I’m not sure she’ll make the same decision.
I can’t offer up advice that you haven’t already heard regarding taming this virus.
However, I can provide you with suggestions about how you can send a message to potential (and current) employees that your workplace is safe.
Can you guess which is one of the most searched term on job marketplace ZipRecruiter?
The answer is “Work from home.”
If you guessed, “Remote work,” you’re close. However, when it comes to search engines, close means nothing. You’ve got to match the search term precisely for your job posting to come up.
It seems that the majority of applicants these days prefer to work from home, yet just 9% of vacancies on ZipRecruiter offer that, or so it appears. My guess is many companies are offering this option, only they’re failing to spell this out. Don’t be like them.
If you’re willing to allow employees to work from home, use this exact language in your job postings and your company website.
Of course, many jobs can’t be done from home. For those of you in this situation, I’d suggest taking a close look at your website, particularly your employer brand (how you present yourself as an employer to both potential and current employees).
Have you updated your employer brand since the pandemic hit?
If not, start here:
Don’t just tell people what you’re doing to make the workplace safe—show them.
Create a video tour and show people how your workplace looks today. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Take them through the common areas and describe how you’ve changed things up to make the workplace safer.
- Talk about changes you may have made in your office hours to ensure there aren’t an abundance of people in the office at the same time.
- Interview some employees on camera and ask them to describe how they feel when they come to the office.
- Have your CEO briefly share his thoughts on the importance of feeling safe at work and what your company is doing to ensure people feel this way.
If you’d like to send me a copy of your video, I’d be happy to look at it and give you some feedback. You can email it to me at Roberta@matusonconsulting.com.
Update your employee benefits to reflect the times better. If you haven’t done so already, group sick, vacation, and personal time into a lump sum paid time off account. This will provide workers with more control over paid time off, which will help quench some of the anxiety they may be feeling, should they suddenly need to take time off from work.
Then be sure to notify current employees of these changes and update your company website as well. Remind hiring managers to mention how your company is adapting to help workers feel more in control of their lives, especially during these difficult times.
Try to remain flexible. You may have just found the perfect candidate. However, this person isn’t quite ready to return to the office. See if they’re open to a compromise. Perhaps you can allow them to remain remote until a specific date or come into the office several times a week. Ask them what it will take for them to say yes to your offer.