Wages, benefits on the rise, but labor shortage persists

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Recently interviewed business leaders responded that despite a general upward trend in wages and benefits, challenges remain in hiring and retaining workers. (Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash)

While many companies have increased the wages and benefits of their employees over the past year, many are also reporting worker losses or hiring difficulties due to perceived better wages or more. benefits offered elsewhere, according to a recent survey by The Harris Poll.

According to pollsters, hiring decision-makers seem to realize the importance of competitive compensation, as the majority – 63% – said they expected average wages to increase in their companies in 2021. Notably, the percentages of those who anticipate the need for wage increases have steadily increased. over more than a year. In the first half of last year, 52% said they expected to provide increases to employees. This figure rose to 58% in the second half of 2020 and to 63% in the first half of this year.

Some 43% of respondents said they expect their company’s benefit offerings to be stepped up in 2021.

Yet, in an era of fierce competition for the best employees, 69% of companies surveyed responded that they are currently unable to deliver the softened benefits that many people say they want these days. Almost a third said they had experienced an increase in staff turnover, often linked to reports of better benefits anticipated by workers elsewhere.

According to the survey, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals of Oklahoma City, nearly 20% of companies said some of the biggest hiring issues were around pay and benefits. Despite this, almost half – 49% – said they expected their benefits to stay roughly the same in the coming year.

“Competitive salary and benefits have never been more important,” said Greg Sulentic, owner of an Express franchise in Lincoln, Nebraska. “It’s not about attracting people to the job market; it’s about stealing employees from your competition. Recruiters often feel like sports agents trying to come up with the best deal just to get a welder or CNC operator from their current job to ours.

Benefits offered by companies to attract workers often revolve around liberal paid time off, cash bonuses paid for retention, and perks like full-time wages paid in exchange for 34 hours worked per week.

Unfortunately for companies, Sulentic said he didn’t expect the pressures on the workforce to ease anytime soon.

“Work participation is remarkably low and we don’t foresee any major improvement,” he said. “People just aren’t coming back to the workforce.”

In response to the survey, Express CEO Bill Stoller said the national economy needs people currently on the fringes to join the labor pool.

“It’s a market of job seekers right now, and when you find the right candidate, companies need to be ready to offer them a job as soon as possible,” he said. “Any delay and you risk losing top talent altogether. “

The survey was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between March 23 and April 12 among 1,001 American hiring decision makers. The data have been weighted, where appropriate, by firm size to bring them closer to their actual proportions in the population.


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