Talk of “the Great Resignation” has been massively oversimplified and should be thrown out like old Halloween candy. What’s really going on in the employment market is much more complicated than people simply quitting their jobs. See, even as we maintain 10 million job openings—a near-record—companies can’t find enough workers, despite there being 8.4 million people unemployed. The numbers point to a growing disconnect between what job seekers want (flexibility, higher pay, remote work), and what employers have to offer (some weekends/evenings, valuable experience, preference for in-person engagement). Everyone is frustrated.
But what gets less attention is, employers are driven by a third party at this bargaining table: the consumer, who is demanding faster, better, cheaper products and services,—and with an in-person option. Conducting everything on Zoom is so 2020. Thus, 2022 will be about evaluating both the virtual and physical options, which means companies need at least some staff who are willing to be onsite. They know it, which is why they are hiring for it. But in most cases, they’re not taking into consideration what employees have learned, gained, and grown to want by having virtual options. So what can you do if you’re an entrepreneur trying to close this gap? Here are 3 suggestions to consider:
1. Offer a premium for in-person work and services.
In-person everything, whether for events or restaurant dining, is becoming a premium service. Make it the same in your company: Pay people who work onsite more than those who work remotely, and charge your customers more for that service, too. Doing so helps clarify what you really need to do in-person versus what you can do just as well virtually.
2. Lead your customers to a new process.
Customers like what they know. So, when you’re changing processes, you’ll inevitably come up against resistance. That means, as a brand, you need to lead your customers to try new ways of interacting with you and show them that it works.
For instance, I’m currently getting bids to raise the concrete on my driveway. One company asked me to take a video of the driveway and send measurements. Another company scheduled an onsite visit. That company is much bigger and more well-established. The other one, new and scrappy. Guess which one came in with a better estimate? The new and scrappy. I was happy to oblige their request for a video and actually found it to be better service to NOT have to have someone come onsite.
3. Ask, how can technology close the gap?
Recently, we hired a Director of Technology for one of our portfolio companies, and she’s doing an amazing job of installing operating systems that are making us more efficient and responsive. As a result, we are eliminating the need for some in-person engagement, which opens up some flexibility for what our next hire can be and what our services can look like. I recommend taking a look at the systems you’re currently using—my guess is, there are things that can be made more efficient
Bottom line, things are messy right now while we’re figuring it all out. Commit to being the most innovative player in your space. With just a few weeks left in 2021, what are you doing to position yourself for success in 2022?