7 Strategies to Help Your Company Solve the Talent Shortage Puzzle

Running a business is tough enough these days. But with unemployment in Nebraska at 2.7 percent* (and 4.1 percent* throughout the U.S.), job growth on the rise and a smaller worker pool replacing retiring baby boomers, employers are facing a dire shortage of available talent—and that’s proving to be among their toughest challenges in 2018.

A recent Talent Tech Labs survey identified the skills shortage as the number-one staffing concern (69 percent) for companies that hire more than 1,000 people per year.

Current and projected skills shortages span the gamut, from trades and manufacturing disciplines, to healthcare, sales, engineering and math-related fields, including accounting and finance. Workforce shortages can hamper an organization’s ability to grow, and could even endanger its ability to service existing customers and clients.

This issue is traceable to more than just demographic shifts. Advancing technology has created new jobs and new opportunities that demand entirely new skill sets. So, what can employers do to meet this challenge in today’s candidate-driven market and help ensure that workforce numbers meet present and future operational goals?


1. Forecast your short- and long-term staffing needs.

Strategic planning and human resource planning go hand in hand. If your company or firm sees opportunities in existing or potential markets and plans to pursue those, you’ll need qualified talent to service those areas.

Similarly, if you foresee an existing customer relationship growing, your organization will need to grow in ways that can adequately meet the client’s needs. Yet all too often, a shortage of qualified talent substantially increases the advance time necessary to fill positions. Developing realistic staffing forecasts will allow the organization to better understand when to begin the hiring process.


2. Make your brand and culture more visible.

There is more readily available public information on each company than ever before, and people do their homework. This is important not only to attract new clients, but prospective employees as well. Successful brands leverage an organization’s strengths, resonate with target audiences, project a singular and appealing voice, and can be owned, sold and defended by all stakeholders.

If your organization is active on social media (or in traditional media, for that matter), everything about your presence should be consistent with your brand and culture—from logo usage to organizational tone and voice and more. The goal should be to project an image of a vibrant, well-run, growing and appealing place to work and build a career. If you are proud of who you are as an organization, make it known why the organization is so great.


3. Be proactive in hiring efforts – recruit.

Your organization should maximize its efforts to continually scout for talent, whether it be through online recruiting, social media activity, in-person networking events or even social gatherings. Most well-qualified workers are gainfully employed these days. These “passive” candidates may not be viewing job postings, so traditional recruiting won’t necessarily reach them. Yet, industry statistics suggest that nearly a third of today’s active workforce is receptive to learning about opportunities. Reaching them through social media, particularly LinkedIn and the various outreach platforms it offers, is a viable strategy to consider in your efforts to recruit passive talent.


4. Build out your bench strength.

You may not need a CFO, controller or even an accounts payable clerk today; but if you lose one suddenly, is there a plan in place to backfill that role? Are key employees cross-trained in complementary roles so that they can fill in if circumstances require it? Acquiring additional skills can increase an employee’s value to the enterprise; and from an owner’s perspective, it’s like an insurance policy to bridge the talent gap if or when it occurs. If this or other succession planning is not feasible internally in certain roles, always keep an eye out externally for potential hires into your organization for those roles.


5. Partner with a qualified staffing agency.

An organization like Lutz Talent serves as the external staffing arm of many leading firms throughout Nebraska and beyond. If your company or firm doesn’t have an in-house staffing function, or if it’s stretched beyond its capacity, an external resource can be invaluable. Qualified staffing agencies have access to a very broad talent pool that extends well beyond active candidates.

That said, one-size-fits-all is not the way proper staffing works; rather, the firm you select should be well-established, possess a breadth and depth of staffing capabilities, and maintain a core specialty. Additionally, it should take time up front to understand (1) your business, (2) its short- and long-term goals, (3) analyze your current workforce, (4) assess and evaluate the position, and (5) devise a strategy to deliver the right talent when and where it’s needed.


6. Maintain a viable employee referral program.

In cases where specialized positions such as IT, marketing or other disciplines lie outside the realm of your in-house or outsourced staffing agency’s expertise, don’t hesitate to tap existing employees for potential candidates in their networks. Oftentimes, someone knows someone who may have the requisite skills you’re looking for. In this regard, employees should be strongly incentivized to make qualified referrals—and you should clearly communicate and promote program details so employees understand how it works.


7. Benchmark your benefits package.

Is your employee benefits program as competitive as it can be? Are you offering incentives that attract top talent and help to retain employees over time? What are industry leaders and/or your competitors doing with their benefit plans—and how does yours compare?

Employee benefits are a key component of an overall compensation equation these days. In fact, according to the 2015 Unum Benefits Buyers’ Study, 78 percent of employees carefully consider the benefits package in determining whether or not to accept a job offer. As employers compete over the same talent, it’s vital that you understand the specific level of benefits that are needed to compete for qualified employees.

Employee benefits benchmarking compares benefits offered by your organization to those of similar employers in similar industries and similar geographies. Variables that can be benchmarked are numerous and range from plan deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, employee contributions and much more. In the end, you’ll enhance your talent acquisition efforts, and, you’ll reap significant side benefits, including:

  • Ensuring that your employee benefit spend is as efficient as it can be
  • Providing verifiable insight on what your health costs should be
  • Delivering market intelligence beyond employee benefit data—e.g., understanding practices of competing organizations, or even learning about competitors you may not know existed
  • Maximizing employee productivity— benchmarking and productivity may not seem directly correlated, but if your benefit program meets or exceeds its benchmarks, and you communicate that effectively to employees, there’s a good chance they’ll feel more engaged, and by extension, more productive.


At Lutz Talent, we take a holistic approach toward recruiting for our clients. We have an unmatched deep background in the accounting and finance industry, and we continually nurture and build a wide network of contacts in our local and national community. Still, we recognize that more résumés don’t equate to a stronger fit—and we realize that companies need to get talent on board ASAP. We dedicate ourselves to thoroughly learning our clients’ objectives, harnessing a pool of premier applicants, and getting the absolute strongest one on board.


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