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While the labor market has leveled out a bit, certain jobs and skills are still in high demand, which creates hard-to-fill roles. The return to office mandates put in place by many companies versus the employee desires for flexibility and hybrid work further complicated, and possibly narrowed, labor pools. Beyond where and when they work, employees’ expectations of the relationship with their employer continue to change. It’s still a challenge to find, keep, and engage the employees you need today for success in the future.
Keeping abreast of the latest in compensation, total rewards, and employee experience offerings is a necessity nowadays. With the latest data you’re better able to craft an employee value proposition that allows you to fill hot jobs with eager employees.
While the labor market is rebalancing in a healthy way and the great resignation has run its course, labor force participation remains low. Although layoffs did hit towards the end of 2023, they were largely within the tech sector.
Employers with large hourly populations are feeling the pinch the most. The number of hourly employees that voluntarily quit versus the number of employees that are terminated spiked in 2023, and continues to be high going into 2024. Food services and hospitality are particularly struggling.
Organizations can attract more talent, retain current talent, and increase employee satisfaction by building workforce strategies based on the latest insights. Data from current surveys can tell employers what employees are looking for in jobs, development opportunities, rewards, and general company characteristics. Surveys can also provide an organization with insights into the compensation offered by its competitors, so that it doesn’t overpay for unnecessary positions but does offer competitive pay for crucial roles.
By mining Mercer’s Skills database, we found that the jobs in high demand in the US include experienced retail sales professionals, custodial/cleaning entry level, security guards, entry-level warehouse and shipping, store management, and customer service.
Incumbents in jobs that saw the highest increases in pay (>10%) from 2022 to 2023 were more in manufacturing, engineering, and IT.
In Canada, the Skills database revealed that, along with secretaries/administrative assistants, other hard-to-find jobs included entry-level food service cooks, airline passengers/service sales, entry-level warehouse shipping & receiving, and retail store management. The jobs with incumbents receiving a 10% increase or more from 2022 to 2023 included various types of engineers, heavy equipment mechanics, and data science managers.
Because of the high demand for employees to fill these jobs, they require an organization to consider their level of total rewards and what makes them competitive. Although it’s not all about the money, it’s still critical to be competitive, especially when roles are hard to fill.
Organizations are concerned about more than just filling roles. As organizations move toward workforce and staffing models that are more agile, many are seeking particular skills to meet specific needs to drive their success.
In the United States, the hottest skills that organizations are seeking seem to correspond mostly with some of the jobs in highest demand. They include:
Hard skills, like budgeting or even operating a forklift, can be taught to someone hired without those skills or to current employees.
It is often more difficult to fill roles that require soft skills, such as attention to detail and problem solving, as these skills are often more challenging to teach. It is usually more effective to find someone who already has those skills and then provide resources for developing their skills further.
It is often hard to assess whether someone has good soft skills based on a resume or a half-hour interview. It’s likely you have a better idea of who possesses those soft skills within your own team. This is just one of the reasons it’s time to approach filling hot jobs in a different way.
Use these five tips to fill positions that are in high demand and that require the hottest job skills.
Did you know that you have a highly trained talent pool at your fingertips?
Your internal labor force is your greatest asset for filling in-demand jobs. Rather than compete against other organizations for those roles, fill the job from among current employees who can be trained. You can build the talent you need through mentorships, training programs, and upskilling. As an added benefit, think about the valuable institutional knowledge that you can leverage and retain by training and promoting from your own labor market.
If you plan your talent movement right, you’ll line up someone else from your company to backfill the open position. In this way, the remaining open role will be in a field that is less in demand, giving you more talent options and fewer competing organizations.
Succession planning used to focus on leadership roles, but many companies have found that succession planning lower in the organization and understanding the skills needed allow them to better leverage their internal labor market.
Money listed ZipRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor as the top job search sites. This means that when using these sites you’ll have the greatest competition and must build a more compelling job posting to even catch the eye of prospective candidates.
If you are tired of employees overlooking your job listings and attracting the wrong applicants, consider alternative recruiting sources. For example, attending college job fairs and partnering with trade schools allows you to connect directly with eager talent just entering the workforce. Another alternative could be to partner with local employers to support career changers: provide networking, learning events, and job boards to share opportunities reciprocally. In an age where employees are seeking employers who truly care for their well-being, what could be better than helping them find their next job when they are ready?
Your employee value proposition (EVP) summarizes what you offer employees — from compensation and benefits to flex working and charitable contributions — and hopefully directly correlates with what they want.
In the fall of 2023, Mercer surveyed more than 4,000 employees working for 250 companies in the US. Although some concerns employees cited remained consistent, others changed from prior years. What are the top concerns your employees have?
By understanding these employee concerns, you can make adjustments to your EVP that will be important to your teams.
Additionally, consider how you communicate your EVP not only in the wording and content, but also in the channels and frequency with which you reach your employees and prospects. The best offerings are useless if the employees and prospects aren’t aware they are available.
A simple example of where a communication strategy takes on some complexity is when you have a mix of office workers and employees on a manufacturing floor. The office workers are regularly on the computer and can access things like emails and the company intranet site. The latter group might not even look at email during a regular work week and may instead rely on in-person communication from team leaders. How will you make sure that your employees are aware of your EVP?
Offering a sign-on bonus can give you an advantage when a candidate is considering multiple offers. But, how much do you offer? Look for surveys as well as real-time data from job postings to find out the appropriate amount to secure the competitive position that you want.
Retention bonuses can typically provide an incentive for employees to stay for a prescribed period of time in order to receive the payout. By ensuring that key employees are retained, you will be able to leverage their expertise, perhaps identify new opportunities and ways to leverage their institutional knowledge, or just keep things running while you seek a replacement. Again, understanding the right amount to balance budgetary concerns but making the payment enticing is key to a successful retention bonus program.
Referrals are a valuable source of talent because you don’t need to invest in recruiting. You also have a connection who can personally vouch for the employee.
To increase the number of referrals, consider implementing a referral bonus or increasing your existing one to determine which employees have friends in the job market or know passive talent who may want to join your team.
Since we’re all looking for new ways to increase our competitive advantage, we employed the use of generative AI by asking for a few more creative strategies to attract talent for hard-to-fill roles.
In a complex labor market, there are so many levers you can pull to improve your chances of finding and keeping the talent you need. Whether revamping your EVP or setting up a way to mine internal talent, Mercer has tools, insights, and experts to help. From providing data specific to your industry or location to developing a multifaceted communication strategy, we have a solution that is right for you.
Call us at 855-286-5302 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our workforce surveys.