Combating the Collapse of the Workforce


At this point we’ve likely all experienced it firsthand – at the hardware store, the grocery store, or even looking for assistance online. Maybe the line is long, your order is wrong, or the customer service is just void. The cause of these issues of course is the shrinking workforce. Many businesses are still there but their employees are not. Where are they all going and what might bring them back? There are many articles out there theorizing the reason behind this mass departure. Here are some suggestions on how to attract and maintain the manpower you need to run your business.


1. Pay Your Workers More

For many businesses increasing compensation is just good business. Henry Ford famously doubled the wages he paid to workers and found the increased labor expense to be cheaper than the cost of employee turnover and missed revenue opportunities because workers didn’t show up. Many of us can utilize this strategy too. And it can often be self-funding as better paid workers quit less often and often work better than their lower paid peers. Even if doubling your wages isn’t feasible, an increase of 20 or 25% might make your workers happier and you more money.


2. Offer A Flexible Work Schedule

One of the perks of Covid-19 for many people was the opportunity to work from home. There was more family time, more down time, and no commute. Now that people have seen this perspective, as well as the possibility of permanent remote work, it’s going to be difficult to drag them back to the office. Flexibility is key. Having good, reliable, responsible employees is essential to a successful business. If the price tag on increasing wages is getting too high, try offering the perk of flexibility. You might have better luck with part-time or job sharing structures, increased sick leave, or greater time off. These days, people might be more attached to their time than their money.


3. Cultivate A Warm Work Environment

If employees missed one thing during their time at home, it was the camaraderie of the workplace. Typically, friendships are formed with the people you see the most. And most often, those are the people you work with. Meeting around the water cooler to hear the latest news in the lives of co-workers/friends – there’s something that’s still significant about that. Building up a culture that encourages those close relationships will go a long way in retaining a solid staff. While it might be easy to walk away from a “just a job”, employees might think twice about leaving their friends behind.


No one knows when this fleeing workforce phenomenon will end. In the meantime, businesses need to focus on quality over quantity. Find way to attract and retain the kind of employees you want through competitive compensation, flexible work options, and by cultivating an attractive workplace culture.