Post COVID-19 Hiring and Employee Retention in Central Florida is Hard- Here is How to Fix It!

Remember when we “flattened the curve” on St. Patty’s day in 2020? Orlando closed for what we thought was ten days, and it turned out to be fourteen months. Unlike a recession where unemployment escalates over months, COVID-19 caused over 290,000 Central Floridians to lose their jobs in less than 45 days. Crazy right?

Today, the complete opposite is happening, with one thing missing; the workers. Job openings in Central Florida are at an all-time high, while the number of people searching for work is at a twenty-year low. Adding to the mess is many of your current employees are quitting in record numbers, the highest since 2000 (BLS).  

Why aren’t employees returning to work in Central Florida? It’s complicated for sure, but here are the top five reasons (no particular order) from a poll of Central Florida Jobs seekers:

  1. No desire to go back to old job.  
  2. Not ready to work in a physical location.  
  3. Families can’t find daycare. (80% of the hires in 2021 are males.)
  4. I realized my old job was too stressful, so taking time to discover a new career path.
  5. Waiting for federal benefits to run out.

Maybe even more important is when we asked why did you quit your job?

  1. Found a better job with more money.
  2. Poor management.
  3. No job flexibility.
  4. Overworked because the company was understaffed.
  5. No recognition for hanging in during COVID-19.

These two lists tell an interesting story. For employers who are struggling to recruit and trying to figure out how to retain current employees, you too are probably looking into another line of work! The challenge is complex because so much media makes it sound like people are NOT returning to work because of federal unemployment benefits payouts. It is only a tiny part of the issue, and if anyone doesn’t believe that, don’t start recruiting until these benefits run out!

How do employers solve this hiring and retention phenomenon in Central Florida? In the short term, many sectors will not be able to fill openings. 

 For the last 14 months, non-essential workers (hospitality and convention industry especially) were told to “stay home.” Since the restrictions have been listed, suddenly, everyone is trying to reopen to full capacity simultaneously, assuming laid-off or furloughed employees flock back. 

This will take some time.

Eighty percent of all hires in 2021 have been males. Women are not returning to the workforce for numerous reasons, including childcare and homeschooling. 

Until daycares can get fully staffed (HUGE issue), families with children who want to return to the workforce have no place to go. Compounding the problem further is that many daycare workers have found higher-paying employment opportunities in our robust job economy.   

These are just the facts. 

While the hiring crisis is going to last for a long time, there are some things you can do to find and retain employees today. Here are some ideas:

  1. Flexible work schedule.  Companies are breaking tradition and will allow employees to work in the office Tuesday through Thursday and at home on Mondays and Fridays.  
  2. Money. Yes, your competitors are throwing out all kinds of money. Larger companies are going to 15.00 hour. However, these are short-term fixes if employees hate their jobs.
  3. Work at Home.  Extend work from home if feasible until hiring improves.
  4. Safe, clean offices.  Make this a big deal in all your job ads and marketing.
  5. Short Application and quick response:   Spend money recruiting, but when a job seeker clicks apply, the process should last no longer than 60 seconds. Remember, 70% of applies are coming from a cell phone. On top of that, many can’t attach a resume from their phone. As soon as the lead comes in, make sure you call and text them immediately.
  6. Quick Hiring Decisions:  You may have to change up your recruiting process so you can hire on the spot. This is a bid deal.

The best tip I can give you is to connect with each job seeker who applies quickly, interview them the same day and just hire them. Job seeker flow will get better at some point, but right now, it is what it is.

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