3 Ways to Outsmart the “Forever Labor Shortage”

If you’re involved in recruiting, you know that the labor market has been tight for some time—dating back to before the pandemic. And while it’s rebounded slightly, U.S. employers remain short a whopping 4,000,000 workers. But the scariest part: it’s not likely to improve any time soon.



Forget the Great Resignation, Retirement and/or Reshuffle. Now, we’re confronting what some have labeled a “Forever Labor Shortage.” Let’s consider how we got here—and some long-term strategies for thriving in these challenging times.


What’s Fueling the Forever Labor Shortage?    

The talent shortfall didn’t happen overnight. In part, the labor market correlates to population—and ours is shrinking.

According to Pew Research, Gen Z (1997-2012) consists of just 68 million members, compared to nearly 72 million Baby Boomers (1946-1964). And while some Gen Zers won’t enter the workforce for another decade, Boomers are retiring at accelerating rates.

As for those 30 million Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic, a number haven’t returned to the workforce for various reasons.

Add it up, and here’s what we get: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the labor force participation rate will drop from 62.2% (in 2022) to 60.4% by 2032—down from 63.3% pre-COVID.

That’s why we’re facing a forever labor shortage. And why savvy employers are optimizing their recruiting and retention efforts with strategies like these.


1. Adopt a 24/7/365 Recruiting Mindset   

Chances are, when you recruit, it’s in order to fill a specific open position. You seek candidates with specific skills sets, and you seek them now.

But wouldn’t it be easier if your management and HR teams were always on the lookout for impressive professionals who are on your wavelength and share your company’s values?

What if, as a team, you made it a practice to connect—and stay in touch—with promising professionals in your field? That way, when an opening arises, you can hit the ground running by making a few strategic phone calls.

Best of all, it’s effortless—all it takes is a change of mindset and habits. What have you got to lose?


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2. Aim to Be a “Best Place to Work”    

There are some employers that everyone wants to work for—and there’s no reason you can’t be one of them.


What sets employers of choice apart? First and foremost: they take great care of their people. They reward them, inspire them, and create an environment that has people actually looking forward to coming to work.

In short, they’ve built an outstanding company culture—where employees feel like they’re part of something that matters and are encouraged to think creatively.

So, show your employees that you care in a million small ways. Improving work/life balance. Reward and celebrate your top performers. And listen closely to what they want—in performance reviews, team meetings, and even exit interviews.

Admittedly, no company becomes the best place to work overnight. But it starts by evaluating where you are and identifying ways to do better.


3. Think Outside Your Zip Code     

There are many benefits to promoting from within—it’s terrific for retention and helps you hold onto precious institutional knowledge.

But sometimes you need to recruit externally, especially in specialized industries like healthcare (which, by no coincidence, is expected to see the greatest labor shortages in the next decade). And sometimes, you can’t just find that needed talent locally.

For this reason, it pays to have a robust long-distance recruiting process in place—one that targets faraway candidates and excels at persuading them to join your team.

One that entices them to say “yes,” by making it easy to fly in for interviews, not to mention wowing them while they’re in town and reimbursing their travel expenses at lightning speed.

And of course, one that offers impressive relocation benefits. One that promises a smooth move and great beginning…is a breeze for your staff to manage…and is amazingly budget-friendly. Because chances are, in the years ahead, you’ll rely on it more than you think.

The Forever Labor Shortage is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s why you need ingenious, proactive recruiting and retention strategies—not to mention partners and programs designed to help you go the distance.

When you’re ready to see how UrbanBound can help you outsmart the Forever Labor Shortage, we’re here for you—and we have lots of great ideas for you!

Human Resources Today