Employers step up efforts to dodge holiday help shortage

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Santa may have less help this holiday season: A shortage of workers could lead to slower service and fewer products. But some companies hope to avoid that, like Bass Pro Shops, which is holding a national hiring event at all of its locations that aims to enlist 7,000 workers Wednesday and Thursday.

The path of the job market depends on the path of the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is what initially caused this surplus of jobs and shortage of workers, so it only makes sense that eradicating the virus is what would rid employers of this issue as well. Experts say the pandemic has caused people to reevaluate what they want from their employers. They might not want just a paycheck anymore, but to know their employer has their best interests at heart.

In a time when so many are getting sick or dying from illness, those employees want to feel that their employer won’t abandon them during an unpredictable time, making them less likely to choose just any job. If this employee shortage continues through the holidays, consumers would feel the effects with things like longer lines, postponed appointments and later deliveries—all problems we’ve seen outside of the holidays during the pandemic.

“I’ve been saying this since about March 2020, which is the economy, the businesses, everything going back to normal, is contingent on our health going back to normal and the state of the virus in the U.S. going back to normal,” said Joseph Liu, assistant professor of management at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Many are now pulling out all the stops when it comes to hiring help for the holidays. Bass Pro Shops, for example, is offering health, dental and life insurance programs, what it calls “competitive” wages, holiday and vacation pay and merchandise discounts up to 45% off at its hiring event at all its locations from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Target is emphasizing its free virtual doctor’s visits and mental health support and free flu shots for all employees. Job seekers nowadays are looking to feel secure while employed.

“I think what we’re seeing now is a bit of a change in the assumptions of employees and employers and their kind of expectations for each other,” Liu said. “To make sure that, ‘Hey, I need to know beyond just going to this job and listening to what you’re asking me to do, that you kind of have my best interests at heart.'”

Experts say it’s impossible to predict how long this employee shortage will continue, but to speed things along, they’re recommending companies ramp up the benefits they offer and encourage vaccination throughout the company, two things which might make potential hires feel safer.

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