Worker shortage leading to benefits for job seekers like higher wages, better vacation & more

Help Wanted
Posted at 5:17 AM, Oct 12, 2021

(WXYZ) — The help wanted signs are everywhere. From major retailers to mom & pop shops, businesses large and small are all on the hunt for workers.

In fact, the shortage is driving the average pay in hospitality up $18 an hour to $26 an hour.

Job seekers are leveraging the tight job market into bigger bank accounts and doing it without burning bridges.

Veteran HR executive Kristi Stepp said the scarcity of workers means job hunters can be more selective.

"Do I want to be at work at 7 a.m. in the morning, 6 a.m. In the morning? Do I want to work the night shift and finding more options out there?" she said.

Stepp, who has been in HR for 30 years, said in an effort to lure workers, she's seeing companies offer next-day pay and bonuses just for showing up on time. It's shaping the job market.

Because of the years, it takes to develop expertise in the skilled trades, those workers have a lot of influence, too.

"We're finding those individuals being able to get a nice bump and move to another organization," she said.

Eastern Michigan Economics Professor Eric Schulz said worker power comes from the record number of job openings.

"There's just a lot more power for employees seeking work at this time," he said.

There are almost 11 million openings, and only 8.4 million Americans looking for work. That imbalance and workers reassessing what they want out of a job is putting leverage into the hands of job seekers we haven't seen in decades.

"We've not really seen one of these as pronounced, I think, since the dot-com boom in the late 1990s," he said.

Back then, the power was in the hands of college grads. What Schulz said makes this more unusual is the market power being wielded in hospitality, entry-level, and frontline workers.

So those in working grocery stores, nursing care facilities, and childcare.

Stepp said she's seeing certified childcare providers telling centers they'll only work the same hours as the parent dropping off kids. No earlier and no later.

"People are having success getting jobs even with those types of requirements. I think it's a challenge for the employers," she said.

If you approach your current employer about a better package, Stepp suggests using talking points to keep the conversation focused and positive.

Know what you're looking for and come with suggestions. Know what your worth is in the market, and consider negotiating beyond base salaries. That means performance bonuses, vacation time, and the ability to work remotely.

Schulz said worker training will be key with hourly workers and entry-level.

Because of higher wages, employers have to pay, they will want to upgrade the skills of those more expensive hourly employees to boost the bottom line.