Just how intense is the competition for workers? Take a gander at the June jobs report, which found that the average pay for U.S. restaurant workers exceeded $15 an hour for the first time. Warehouses and distribution centers are having to pony up even more, with the average warehouse worker who isn’t a manager earning $19.13 an hour in June, up 3% from March, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s monthly report.
Companies added 11,000 jobs in warehousing and storage in June, but given the unrelenting labor crunch, they would have liked to have hired many more. According to the 2021 MHI Annual Industry Report, which involved a survey of 1,003 supply chain executives, hiring and retaining qualified workers is the No. 1 challenge facing companies, with 52% of respondents saying it’s either “extremely” or “very” challenging.
Consumers’ expectations for prompt customer service also are increasing the demand for talented workers. According to the MHI report, 47% of respondents said meeting customers’ demands on response times was extremely or very challenging, and 43% said the same thing about rising customer-service expectations.
With the country opening back up and the economy gaining steam, labor figures to be in short supply for the foreseeable future. Here are four ways companies are better positioning themselves in this highly competitive recruiting climate.
PAYING WORKERS MORE
Amazon announced in May that it was adding more than 75,000 workers to its fulfillment and logistics network across the U.S. and Canada, with jobs offering an average starting pay of $17 an hour, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000. In addition, new hires who have proof they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for another $100 bonus.
Amazon employees receive a benefits package that includes medical, dental, retirement saving, paid parental leave and tuition credits, the company said.
In June, Target was advertising jobs at its West Jefferson, OH, warehouse that start at $17.75 an hour, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Similarly, Evenflo, a manufacturer of infant-feeding products, was seeking 70 manufacturing workers this past spring and had to resort to offering a $1,500 signing bonus—the highest in company history—plus a $250 quarterly bonus for perfect attendance, the newspaper reported. Those jobs started at $16 an hour.
Nationwide, more than 1 in 10 paychecks issued in May included a bonus, a 50% increase from the same month in 2020, according to an analysis from the payroll firm Gusto. The company said the average bonus in May had almost doubled year-over-year to $567.
GIVING THEM PERKS
In April, Chipotle announced that it was expanding its debt-free college-degree options for employees to include agriculture, culinary and hospitality programs. The restaurant chain previously had included business and technology degrees in the incentive program.
Some companies are expanding educational benefits to include employees’ family members. Waste Management, which already paid for workers to get bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in data analytics and business management, expanded its scholarship program to include employees’ children and spouses. The initiative will cost Waste Management $5 million to $10 million in its first year, the company told The New York Times.
Similarly, the meatpacking company JBS USA is offering to pay for college degrees for workers and one kid per employee, according to Business Insider.
Applebee’s held a national hiring day in May, an effort to fill 10,000 positions, and offered free appetizers to everyone who came in for an interview. About 40,000 people showed up, the restaurant chain told The New York Times.
In Tampa, one McDonald’s offered job applicants $50 apiece to come in for an interview, and another McDonald’s in Altamont, IL, offered new hires a free iPhone if they stayed aboard for six months, according to Business Insider.
GIVING THEM FLEXIBLE, PREDICTABLE SCHEDULES
Luke Pardue, an economist at Gusto, told CBS News that many companies are allowing workers to set their own schedules, an initiative aimed at jobseekers struggling with childcare options with schools out for the summer or still operating remotely. Other companies are abandoning last-minute scheduling practices and allowing employees to have set schedules, he said.
INSTILLING A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP IN EMPLOYEES
MHI member Dematic hired several thousand workers globally in 2020 and is on track to do so again this year, according to Jenny Ferrell, vice president for human resources in the Americas.
In addition to offering good pay and perks, Ferrell said Dematic holds listening sessions where top executives hear from a small group of employees. In addition, leaders share the company’s strategic plan and emphasize the impact its workers have on its customers during town halls.
“We encourage an entrepreneurial spirit where we engage employees to self-direct projects, call out opportunities for continuous improvement and promote an open environment to share ideas,” she said. “By encouraging this behavior, this instills a belief of ownership and gives employees a stake in the changes and direction the company is headed.”