Is your business hoping to win the next big contract? Are new clients in sight? As the economy picks up speed, are you prepared to handle the increased workload with your current staffing situation? Do labor shortage forecasts and competition for talent give you cause for concern? Fear not - the answer to your workforce dilemma is just a creative thought away.
Rather than follow traditional hiring practices, why not stretch your imagination and look at other options? Greater Boston possesses a deep pool of willing, enthusiastic and capable individuals eager to become productive additions to your current employee roster. Although employing these "non-traditional" workers might induce slight hesitation, why not take a chance? Companies facing a labor shortage need to contemplate creative alternatives to remain viable in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Non-traditional workers and hours
Employers often adhere to a longstanding policy of hiring only those individuals who can work a traditional 9 to 5 shift. Maybe it's time to change that habit. Why not consider mothers who are only available from 9 to 2 when children are in school? These women can add energy and enthusiasm to your company. You might wonder how you'll cover the remaining hours in the shift. Simply hire two part-time employees, which will enable you to realize higher productivity at a lower cost. Part-time workers often forego benefits, such as health insurance, paid vacations, and time off but bring focus to the job. In this situation, you gain two valuable employees and save money.
Adjusting work hours might also enhance the way your company does business. The current "sandwich" generation - those with elder parents who need care - may find typical hours problematic. By adding an earlier or later shift to the workday, you can maximize this potential workforce. As your work hours and productivity increase, your company will be better able to serve West Coast and European customers more easily, which opens a potential new revenue source.
In these days of high-tech - fax machines, computers, e-mail, Palm Pilots, and cell phones that send and receive text messages and graphic images - it's not unusual to conduct business away from the office. The time is right to consider hiring individuals who want to work from home. For parents whose day revolves around childcare or other family responsibilities, those who are physically challenged, or individuals with lengthy commutes, telecommuting offers an ideal solution. An individual can be just as productive working from a home office in sweat pants as in the office more formally dressed. The worker earns industry experience, self-esteem, and a paycheck, while you gain a productive employee who contributes to your business. Such an arrangement eliminates the need to provide office space and may add to your bottom line.
Seasoned workers and newbies
When you're looking to hire additional staff, don't forget retirees. With one career behind them, many retirees are still capable and eager to put to use a lifetime of accumulated skills and expertise. Such individuals often bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to your company. As you help them build a second career, your business benefits from their years of wisdom. A brief course on today's technology and company procedure will bring retired workers "up to speed" and will soon add an exciting, new dimension to your business.
At the other end of the spectrum, local colleges and universities possess an often-untapped goldmine of talent. Many students welcome the opportunity to perform internships that offer them a "leg up" on future job competition. In addition to earning some much-needed cash, students gain experience in a real-world employment environment. Although the majority of students tend to depart once they complete an internship, some remain on the job while they earn their degree and might accept full-time permanent positions after graduation. High school students might also qualify for appropriate vacant staff positions. Be sure to have your human resources specialist review labor laws before you follow this route.
In addition to these non-traditional workers, why not check in with your local career center? These offices hold a potential treasure trove. By developing relationships with career center staff, you'll get first-hand information on clients who fit your labor needs. Career centers screen applicants and can present the most appropriate individual who will contribute the most to your company.
So don't let an employee shortage paralyze you. It's an opportunity to evaluate your business needs and use your hiring creativity.
[Editor's Note: This article was previously published in slightly different form in the Worcester Business Journal.]
Laurie Viapiano, PHR, is Founder and President of V Consulting,
a human resource consulting firm. She is a NEHRA member and can be reached at