3 Ways to Address the Current Workforce Shortage in America

Addressing the American workforce shortage requires all industries to examine how they recruit and hire employees in the post-pandemic work.


Air Date: July 20, 2021

Moderator: Cheryl A. Oldham, Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Featured Guests: Ann Miller, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Memorial Hermann Health System, Jeff Good, President, Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, Todd Sanders, President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues and the economy slowly recovers, a major issue plagues many industries: a post-pandemic workforce shortage. With more than 9.5 million people unemployed and more than 9 million open jobs, industry leaders and experts must find solutions to this shortage and remove all barriers keeping people from the workforce.

Getting people back to work is one of the most critical components of this economic recovery post-COVID-19. Many factors have contributed to this workforce shortage, but by discussing and identifying the issues, leaders can focus on getting people back to work.

Below, three industry experts share their insights on how to address the current workforce shortage and examine post-pandemic recruiting and hiring practices.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Essential to Regaining a Workforce

One of the biggest barriers to boosting the economy and getting people back to work is hesitancy regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people are hesitant to work if the people they work with or serve may be unvaccinated. From a consumer standpoint, some are concerned about visiting businesses where their employees are not vaccinated.

While a vaccinated workforce is not the only challenge businesses face, as vaccines increase, the economy gets better.

“The vaccine changed everything,” said Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. “As we started to see vaccination rates go up, we started to see people go out and start to spend money and contribute to the economy.”

Removing Educational Requirements Helps Boost Hiring Rates

Oftentimes, qualified candidates are discouraged from applying for a job because they do not meet the precise educational requirements on the job listing. This has become a major issue within the healthcare industry, which is facing a huge shortage in its workforce — especially amongst nurses.

“We went through all of our positions to really look at what the minimum educational requirement is and most of them required a high school diploma or a GED equivalency,” said Ann Miller, VP of talent acquisition for Memorial Hermann Health System. “We have removed that from a number of jobs. That is something you've seen across industry … that is absolutely needed. Can we teach people skills that don't have that level of education? The answer is absolutely.”

“It's not that there's a shortage of workers,” Miller added. “It is a shortage of the worker we have in our mind.”

Use Out-of-the-Box Tactics to Attract Employees

The service industry is facing a devastating workforce shortage as well. Many bars and restaurants now operating at full capacity again struggle to meet demands because they simply don't have enough workers.

To hire more employees to meet the needs of his customers, Jeff Good, president of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, took a unique approach to hire new employees. Good held a hiring carnival that gave people incentives just for showing up, starting with a free scoop of ice cream for anyone that came.

“[We gave] a $20 gift card to our restaurants to anybody who sits for an interview,” said Good. “If we hire you, we're going to give you a $200 signing bonus for 90 days. We had to do that to entice folks out. We got about 45 people to come to this two-and-a-half-hour carnival. And we [had] about 23 offers and hired 14 people.”


Latest Video