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Keep Hiring Issues from Hurting the Team You Have Right Now

by Ben Spradling | Jul 8, 2021 12:55:29 PM

Hiring issues are hampering how companies operate right now. Nearly half of all U.S. businesses recently reported unfilled jobs, and the candidates who are applying aren’t qualified for the positions they’re hoping to fill. Workforces are running thin.

Employees of those understaffed businesses have been asked to pick up the extra slack. Workers are logging longer hours, and the time they put in is filled with added responsibility. It’s enough to make some consider joining an increasingly empowered pool of jobseekers.

Smaller staffs mean bigger workloads.

Ryan Kyle is the co-owner of 12 McDonald’s restaurants located across South Central Idaho. He and his team are currently operating with 650 employees – roughly 150 below what he considers comfortable.

“It's a battle right now. With so many other job opportunities out there, you know, a lot of the people who might have looked at McDonald's for an opportunity are potentially looking elsewhere just because everywhere you go is hiring.”

Operating understaffed could cause an issue Kyle is working to avoid. While companies try to bring on new hires, current employees are often asked to work harder and more often. That can be a recipe for burnout.

“That's the hole I'm trying to stay out of right now,” shared Kyle. “If you start working understaffed over and over every day and every week, week after week, month after month, it takes a toll on your current employees. So, we’ve done quite a few things to incentivize our current employees, while at the same trying to get some more new employees on our roster.”

Incentives can earn appreciation.

Incentives Kyle offers employees of his McDonald’s locations now include regular pay increases – wage reviews are performed every three months – and a tuition assistance program intended to help his mostly young workforce prepare for their next professional steps. He also introduced a refer-a-friend system that gives cash bonuses to employees who recommend candidates who eventually get hired.

Free food helps, too. Previously, employees received half-off the price of McDonald’s menu options. Now, every employee, regardless of their position, gets one meal a day on the house. It’s a seemingly small perk, but it helps establish a sense of appreciation.

Other companies are motivating their existing workforce by offering retention bonuses, as well as other non-monetary benefits. For example, hotels are offering complimentary rooms for staff to take a staycation and restaurants are providing time for employees to train with their executive chefs.

Management may mean more.

As beneficial as those incentives can be in retaining an understaffed workforce, though, they may not matter as much as the people who lead those teams. During Kyle’s effort to attract employees, he’s found that on employee turnover.

“My better performing general managers do not have some of the people problems that my, say, lesser performing general managers have,” said Kyle. “Once you hire somebody, it really comes down to, ‘Are they being treated well within your restaurant?’ If the answer is yes, and we're taking care of them, and we're doing what we need to be doing on our end, they stay.”

Kyle’s general managers are able to receive training through McDonald’s upper management team to better improve their people skills. Smaller businesses with a less corporate structure may not have that type of training as readily available, but there are steps they can take that will help employees feel appreciated and informed. For example, practicing continuous, transparent communication with staff can alleviate internal apprehension.

Reputations ride on what happens right now.

Since his workforce skews younger, now that schools are letting out for summer, Kyle expects to get at least a temporary reprieve from the hiring holdup impacting his businesses. Other industries may not catch a break quite as soon. In the meantime, current employees are paying attention to how they’re being treated right now.

Tough times can make or break a reputation. Employers who support their understaffed teams right now have an opportunity to strengthen their standing among current and future employees. Tuition assistance programs, management training, free food – how effectively businesses show appreciation for their teams during a crisis goes a long way toward becoming establishments job seekers want to join.

Hiring is hard work right now. Taking care of the team you currently have on staff could be key to adding some ease to that endeavor.

What is your business doing to retain its employees? How do you make your workforce feel appreciated? Let us know what’s working for your team by leaving a comment.

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