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AU News

Navigating the World of Work: Change the Only Certainty

December 7, 2021
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In pandemic-punctuated times, agility and flexibility are key qualities essential for a business to survive and thrive.

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Noted author, speaker and businessman Stephen Covey once said, “If there’s one thing that’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty.” 

Given a business climate punctuated by a global pandemic and its impact, nobody would argue that point with Covey. 

Dr. Steve Nail, Dean of the Anderson University College of Business, asserts that companies daily deal with unprecedented challenges brought on by retiring Baby Boomers, government mandates and a workforce seeking more flexible work options, or deciding to opt out of work altogether.

Recruiting and Retaining
“As we come out of COVID, obviously the (vaccine) mandates are a big issue, but I think the biggest issue companies are facing right now is finding qualified employees they can hire and retain,” Dr. Nail said, adding that some job recruiters schedule multiple candidates for a single time slot to compensate for no-shows. At the same time, he feels companies may be losing out on qualified candidates due to inflexible hiring practices.

“If your organization takes a long time to go through the hiring process, you’re going to lose most of your candidates because there are multiple job offers out there,” Dr. Nail said. “You’ve got to act more quickly today. You can’t afford to elongate the process.” 

He adds that proper onboarding is necessary to retain new employees. 

“What the statistics and studies show is that the longer the onboarding process, the more likely you are to retain new employees. I think part of that is because of the relationships that are being built and the attention you’re showing people, instead of just bringing them in, asking them to fill out a few forms, giving them a computer, and asking them to let you know if they need anything” Dr. Nail said. 

Working Remote
With the increasing availability of high-speed Internet, more workers have been able to work from home since the COVID-19 pandemic started. This along with rising gas prices make working from home a more attractive option than ever; however, Dr. Nail says that many late Millennials and Gen Z workers seek the best of both worlds through a balance between home and office. 

“A lot of the young people who have recently entered the workforce aren’t yet married and have no children. Many times their whole social network is built around their work relationships, plus that’s a really good way to understand the organization and how the business works; it’s a way they can grow, so finding the right blend, I think, is optimal,” Dr. Nail said. 

Also, workers might be attracted to working remotely for an employer out of state while staying in their hometown, and organizations need to understand this when formulating their pay philosophies.

“I can sit in the Upstate of South Carolina and work for a California company, a New York company, or an Illinois company,” Dr. Nail said. “Some companies are paying less for work-from-home, but a lot of them aren’t.  This is hurting the ability to fill the jobs because you’ve got remote jobs that will pay more and you don’t have to go into the office, so companies are really going to have to look at paying at national pay levels for positions which other companies allow to work remotely.”

To Work or Not to Work?
Many companies, particularly service-oriented businesses with lower pay levels, have been unable to find employees because those potential employees can often receive more money through government assistance, according to Dr. Nail. 

“What we’re seeing because of COVID, and government regulations implemented during COVID, are situations where people are more advantaged monetarily unemployed, than working,” Dr. Nail said. “Now coming out of COVID there have been other things like the child care credits and the increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp payments, to $850 per month, which is more than the average family of four spends in a month on food.”

But Dr. Nail contends that it’s not just minimum wage jobs going unfilled.

“On all your skilled positions requiring a college education, there’s really a shortage there too, particularly those in accounting, finance, computer science and supply chain,” Dr. Nail said. “There’s an abundance of demand in the marketplace for the supply of college graduates in those fields.” 

According to Dr. Nail, agility and flexibility are key qualities essential to survival for a business to stay adequately staffed and competitive.

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