As much of the U.S. gets back to a “new normal” with the COVID-19 pandemic waning, many businesses that require either low-wage, hourly, or exclusively in-person workforces are still finding themselves short-staffed. These sectors of the American workforce are critical to the healing of the economy and for getting individual businesses back to operating at pre-pandemic levels.
However, the enhanced unemployment benefits that have been available for the last 15 months have created a situation where workers are unmotivated to return to work because they are making the same amount of money or more from unemployment. Even with many states ending the enhanced benefits, or parlaying the funds into programs used to get workers back into jobs, many employers are still finding themselves understaffed and unable to simply raise wages. This leaves employers with the need to come up with creative solutions to incentivize their previous workforce to return to work, allowing their business to move forward again.
In a candidate’s market, it is critical to extend beyond simple salary benefits and to include bonuses or enhanced long-term benefits packages. Long-term benefits will make blue-collar employment packages more competitive, enticing, and in-line with what white-collar workers have come to expect.
For white-collar employers looking to fill jobs, employers have more flexibility to offer work from home or hybrid schedules. Extending the pandemic-era flexibility to work from anywhere can often be marketed to candidates as a benefit, making jobs at those companies more enticing for candidates with options.
Expressing Appreciation to Your Employees
As employers face challenging times hiring and rehiring their workforce, the most compelling way employers can get employees back to work is by showing employees how integral they are to broader business goals.
Rather than using short-term tactics like signing bonuses, this unique moment is an opportunity for employers to build stronger bonds with employees. Especially for lower-wage and hourly employees, employers can demonstrate the importance of their workforce by providing long-term job security and better benefits. Laying this groundwork can provide the basis for employee loyalty, rather than a quick fix to get employees back to work this summer.
Additionally, providing long-term engagement opportunities for employees as they re-enter the workforce can support a broader overhaul of benefits and job security initiatives. This could take shape as a comprehensive program where employees can earn rewards, beyond their salaries and bonuses, like gift cards and extra PTO based on service to the company or exhibiting desired behavior. Rewards programs can help sustain COVID-19 precaution initiatives in the office or workplace, as well as other workforce safety initiatives.
Employee Benefits Make the Difference
The biggest differentiator between a working individual and someone collecting unemployment is benefits. Ensuring that your company is offering competitive, comprehensive benefits to all employees could seriously help re-attract workers and give your company an edge over the competition in a tight labor market. For hourly and lower-wage workers as well as white-collar workers key benefits could include:
- Healthcare: Insurance is a good first step in offering employee healthcare, but implementing health and wellness initiatives like gym memberships, or on-site gym availability can give your business an edge in attracting employees.
- 401(k) and Retirement Planning: While an employer match is ideal, it’s not necessary to make a company 401(k) plan worthwhile. Retirement planning shows that your organization is planning for employees’ future and may help put your organization into their future plans.
- Job Security: If possible, as employees return to work, provide an employment guarantee, pending performance, and compliance with company policy. Providing stability to a population that’s been living off of unemployment for an extended period of time can go a long way.
- Work from Anywhere: For job roles where this is possible, flexibility has become an employee benefit. This can provide an edge to not only attract new talent, but to retain existing employees and avoid expensive talent acquisition.
- Reward Programs: Using non-cash rewards as incentives for employees makes them feel appreciated on a regular basis and with easy-to-use platforms like Engage2Reward™ the program execution is easy for your HR team.
The economy is at a crossroads right now. Employees need to go back to work since the enhanced unemployment is ending in multiple states this summer and will end at the federal level in September. Employers need employees to ensure their businesses can function at full capacity and will be able to make a comeback as the country emerges from the worst of the pandemic.
The challenges are obvious, but the opportunity is what employers need to focus on. Use this unique economic situation to not only attract employees to work for you now, but entice them to show your business loyalty and long-term commitment into the future, and your organization should do the same for each employee it brings back to work.
Register for your free account on Engage2Reward™ today to easily send employee incentives that you can add to your return to work and employee incentive packages!