In 2022, according to CBS News, the United States labor force is 2.2 million workers less than its pre-pandemic number. The shortage of labor is a major problem for businesses. A study by Katie Bach of the Brookings Institution shows that about 1.6 million of these people are not currently working due to health issues caused by long Covid.
There are other reasons for the labor shortage, according to CNN Business. It attributes around 35 percent of the loss in U.S. workers to people 55 years old and older leaving the workforce as of September 2021. They have either retired or decided to quit their jobs early due to pandemic concerns.
The second-largest group of people who left the American workforce, according to CNN, are mothers with young children. The closing of childcare for very young children and the shift of schooling to distance learning for school-aged kids have forced mothers to quit and stay home.
Whatever the reasons are, the fact remains that businesses are now competing to get the best talents from a much smaller pool. Companies must attract and retain the best people. After all, a company is only as good as its people. To do so, it must offer a culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
It is unethical, immoral, and illegal in the workplace to discriminate against employees based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, religion, race, national origin, citizenship status, genetic information, mental or physical disability, bad debts, bankruptcy, and military service or affiliation. Because of this, every workplace must have a diverse workforce. This is not just to comply with the law. Such diversity is also beneficial to businesses.
When a diverse group of people is working together, they bring very different ideas to the table. Brainstorming immediately becomes more dynamic and covers a much wider perspective, benefiting from various backgrounds and mindsets. This is an extremely fertile ground for innovation.
Another benefit of having a diverse workforce is having an inside view of different segments of the market. Within the company, there is a microcosm of the entire market. This gives the company an edge in conceptualizing products or services and campaigns.
Just hiring a diverse group of employees is not enough. Company culture must also be inclusive. This means ensuring that each employee feels accepted, heard, understood, respected, and supported. Each opinion must be given adequate consideration in decision-making.
For instance, parents have specific needs regarding childcare. Inclusive company culture can offer everyone flexibility in work schedules so that mothers and fathers can work around their children’s needs.
People with disabilities in mobility, including the elderly who are still working or returning to work, will need physical access for walking aids or wheelchairs. This includes ramps, wide doorways and hallways, and spacious bathrooms with grab bars and special toilet seats for the handicapped, among others.
The company must care for the physical well-being of its employees. For instance, studies have shown that it is unhealthy for people to stay seated for long hours every day. Companies can provide desks that can automatically switch between being standing and sitting desks throughout the day. Chairs must be ergonomically designed.
The company can also provide free gym membership for its employees. For people with special needs, appropriate support must be given. For instance, those with scoliosis can instead be given free Schroth physical therapy for scoliosis treatment. Customized attention to individual needs shows employees that they are valued, and they are not mere statistics to the company.
It is also essential for a company to have equity in the workplace. This means recognizing that people have varying levels of access to privileges and resources and ensuring that those who have less are supported so that everyone gets a fair shot at the best possible result.
This starts with the hiring process. Companies that require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree are missing out on a lot of talent who did not have the resources to finish college but may have the skills needed for the job. Instead of requiring a degree, a company can benefit more from describing what the job entails. The company can then offer educational benefits for employees who want to pursue further education.
Ongoing training for various positions within the company must also be made available to those who are interested in it for their career growth. Anyone who intends to climb the ladder and is willing to work for it must be given the chance to do so.
Loyalty and Productivity
Businesses that can prove that their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in their company culture will not only be able to recruit the best people but will also earn the loyalty of the people working for them. This will increase morale and motivation in the workforce, resulting in higher productivity and quality of output. The result is higher revenue that will benefit the entire company.