Talan Products Inc. employs 85 people and hopes to expand in the next few years.
That may not be easy at a time when there is about one person looking for work for every two job openings in the United States, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics August Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
Talan is a 36-year-old metal stamping firm in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. It makes automotive stampings, a variety of specialty washers for a number of industries, and products for the construction industry. And it’s begun making products for the solar and LED lighting industries.
It’s added 20 workers this year, and COO Adam Snyder knows that, with 30% of Talan’s existing workers older than 55, the company is looking at a raft of retirements. It hopes to reach 100 workers in the next few years, if it can attract enough of the right workers.
“They just need to be good,” Snyder said in an October interview.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many people to leave their jobs, but it’s not the only reason employers are struggling to find workers. Early retirements and a slowdown in immigration are also factors. And the businesses and nonprofits that provide child care and elder care to working families have lost workers, as well. That has meant they’ve had to cut back on services, forcing some of their clients, who have children or elderly parents to care for, to quit their jobs. An article in the October Harvard Business Review laid out the future in no uncertain terms.
The article “Competing in the New Talent Market” starts this way: “Many business leaders are asking when the workplace will get back to normal. If by normal, they mean ‘2019,’ the short answer is ‘never.'” A push for flexibility
To expand the pool of candidates, Talan is changing the way it runs its production floor. With its growth spurt, it began building a second shift that picked up when the first shift ended at 4:30 p.m. But now, with hiring getting harder, it’s finding new ways to attract people who can’t work those shifts.
“We found that 6:30 to 4:30 wasn’t an ideal shift time for everybody,” said Snyder. “And we were getting feedback from the market that some people are looking for less than a full shift.”
In response, the company added half shifts with one running 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and another from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
“We had some folks say, ‘Hey, that 6-to-1 works really well because I need to be home to get my kids off the bus,’ while others have been attracted to the 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift,” he said. “They say, ‘You know, my significant other works first (shift), so I can work like a retail evening shift.”
Gig work has become attractive. A recent study by the Pew Research Center called “The State of Gig Work in 2021” found that 3% of U.S. adults were full-time gig workers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce defines gig workers as “independent contractors or freelancers who typically do short-term work for multiple clients.” They delivered food or other products for services such as Door Dash and Amazon Flex, performed household tasks like house cleaning or furniture assembly or were selling via a mobile app or website. “The worker-employer contract is changing — fundamentally and permanently,” wrote Katy George, a senior partner and chief people officer at McKinsey & Co., in the Harvard Business Review. “This will likely remain the case even if the economy continues to struggle, because the roles and skills where the fight for talent is fiercest will still be in demand.” A recent survey by the management consulting firm Korn Ferry uses a big number to emphasize the imbalance. “The $8.5 Trillion Talent Shortage” said that by 2030 the lack of workers with the right skills could mean that 85 million slots worldwide will go unfilled. Adam Snyder is COO of Talan, a 36-year-old metal stamping firm in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood.
NORTHEAST OHIO’S CHALLENGES While the Harvard Review looked nationally and Korn Ferry looked globally, reporting locally tells a similar story. It’s especially true in industries where employees can’t work remotely, including manufacturing, health care and the construction industry — all major employers in Northeast Ohio. Michelle Collins is executive director of Conxusneo, a Summit County workforce intermediary that works to improve the skills of the workforce and bring job seekers closer to employers in the Akron area. She said her organization, which focuses on the manufacturing, health care and information technology sectors, is working to help employers think about how they can be an employer of choice, a place that will be an attractive place to work. In particular, she is telling employers to listen more closely to what employees need from their employer. “So really listen to your employees, understand what your employees value, and then find ways to create an environment that is responsive to your employees,” she said. “We’re communicating that to as many employers as possible.” The numbers are clear, however, that employers face an uphill battle to fill open slots. A study earlier this year from the Fund for Our Economic Future laid out the numbers for the 18 Northeast Ohio counties it focuses on. The Future Fund is using the study to help employers and employees find solutions. In 2021, there were 1,637,893 people in jobs in Northeast Ohio — 95,510 fewer than in 2019, representing a 5% decline in the number of employed people since the start of the pandemic. “Where Are the Workers” surveyed nearly 5,000 workers and more than 600 employers across Northeast Ohio and found that most face worker shortages and their workforces are aging, becoming more diverse and not making enough money. The study said 408,313 had quit their jobs in the previous year. It found that while a good wage was very important or somewhat important for 98% of the workers surveyed, other factors were also important. Having what was described as “meaningful work” was important to 92% of those surveyed. Flexible hours were important to 90% and paid time off was a factor for 88% of respondents.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/OL3tH/1/Time and again people contacted for this story echoed those findings, emphasizing that finding and keeping workers is more than pay and benefits. The employers and workforce nonprofits said employees and job seekers cited a number of factors that fall under the umbrella of company culture as important to where they work. That included offering paid parental leave to new parents, changing shift hours or offering training that leads to advancement. Finding the right people may also mean expanding the candidate pool by being more intentional about diversity. According to Indeed.com, “Diversity in the workforce refers to the individual characteristics employees have that make them unique. These characteristics can include gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities and ideologies.” It may also mean looking at hiring the formerly incarcerated. Employers can find a number of organizations to help navigate these issues. Most counties in Northeast Ohio have reentry offices and the Northeast Ohio Reentry Coalition and Towards Employment also help employers fill entry-level and semi-skilled positions. Snyder, who previously worked on the “Where Are the Workers” study and its recommendation at the Future Fund, said Talan “is pulling every lever.” For Talan, that has involved, for example, participating in the Manufacturing Sector Partnership of Workforce Connect, a development effort funded by the Deaconess and Gund foundations, Cuyahoga County and other public and private partners in Cuyahoga County. It’s an effort to connect more workers to well-paying career paths and help employers find the skilled talent they need. So far, it is targeting three employment sectors — manufacturing, health care and information technology. The ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers program of Workforce Connects targets reentry for people looking for work after leaving the justice system. But there is more to Talan’s talent hunt than that. “We’re involved with some of the school-based programs to drive awareness (especially targeting) graduating high school students,” Snyder said. “And we’re involved with multiple recruiting and staffing companies to try and find the right candidates. We’ve had every net out.” Keeping workforce levels up, of course, is not just a manufacturing problem. Just the particulars are different.
MOBILITY IN HEALTH CARE Area hospitals, for example, are having a hard time keeping staff, especially nurses, from moving on, often just to another local hospital. They’re lured by hiring bonuses, a more attractive shift or a different work environment — like leaving an emergency room job for one at a long-term nursing facility. The hospitals are also competing with the companies that offer what are called health care professional travel contracts, where nurses and other allied professionals take short-term assignments mostly in hospitals around the country, even around the world, that pay considerably more than local rates. The No. 1 reason employees leave University Hospitals, said Kim Shelnik, vice president for talent acquisition, is to go to a competitor. “They move because they’re trying to find the best schedule, the best pay, et cetera,” she said. “Or they’re picking new career fields outside of health care because many individuals can work from home or remote and we can’t always offer that in health care because we’re taking care of patients. And then, retirement, of course.”
CONSTRUCTION INCENTIVES The problem in the construction industry stems from the boom in commercial building. David Wondolowski, executive director of the Building & Construction Trades Council, said construction projects planned or underway — such as the Sherwin-Williams Co. headquarters and at the area’s major hospitals — means construction firms can expect to face five years of worker shortages. His association represents 12,000 tradespeople who belong to the council’s 29 local unions — bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and more. The No. 1 reason employees leave University Hospitals, said Kim Shelnik, vice president for talent acquisition, is to go to a competitor. Glen Shumate, executive vice president of the Construction Employers Association, which represents firms that use union construction workers, agreed with Wondolowski about the increase in demand and added that the building boom in Central Ohio, which includes Intel, will draw tradespeople away from Northeast Ohio. Shumate said that if Intel or some of the other big projects in Central Ohio need workers, they might pay higher-earning tradespeople an $8-$10 an hour premium. “If you can get a 25% bump in your pay for an hour and a half drive or commute, you may go down there,” Shumate said. “I do know companies who have already lost project managers to (out-of-town) work.” But again, it’s not just a pay issue. Shumate said he heard from one member contractor who told him about a package to entice workers that includes opportunities for advancement and leadership training. The contractor also said the company was planning to increase wages to help workers pay for child care and adding a 5 to 11 p.m. half shift to attract someone who was part of a working couple or someone who works a full-day shift but wants an extra paycheck. Another said it was offering paid maternity leave, and a third, a highway contractor, was doing its first-ever job fair in Akron.
RETHINKING REQUIREMENTS Another way employers need to rethink their hiring plans is about the educational experience they require. William Gary, Tri-C’s executive vice president for workforce, community and economic development, said that 65% of the in-demand jobs require some form of post-high school education, but not necessarily the four-year bachelor’s degree that employers may put on a job posting. “Why do we have these artificial gatekeeper sort of credentials?” he asked. “Ultimately you have people with the experience that have done the work in places where they didn’t need those credentials that are talent that (an employer) could acquire if you reexamine some of these gatekeeper credentials.” He and Tri-C president Michael Baston believe business and industry need to understand that because potential employees have options, they need to adjust their criteria. “We try to encourage through our work to have companies reexamine those policies that really create barriers for a lot of the targeted audiences that they’re trying to see,” said Baston. He pointed out, for example, the problem with a policy that says they won’t hire smokers. “But many in their existing workforce smoke when they leave the building on a break,” he said. Tri-C offers programs that lead to careers in fields such as accounting, business management, hospitality management and nursing with either a certificate or two-year associate degrees. Baston said many of the curricula combine short-term classroom programs of up to two years with on-the-job experience. Baston also cited Tri-C programs — as well as programs at so-called coding boot camps like Cleveland’s Tech Elevator — that train people to be software developers, cybersecurity specialists and Microsoft Office specialists in short-term classes.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/W0KEm/2/The building trades and CEA also offer training opportunities — its young Cleveland Builds pre-apprenticeship program is designed to attract young people to their industry. After completing the four-week program, where they learn from different professionals in the trades, the graduates can seek four-year apprenticeships with construction firms where they can earn an average of $16 an hour and then move on to a journeyman job that the CBCTC says can pay an average of $27.64 an hour, or $58,000 a year. Wondolowski pointed out a key attraction to apprenticeships — a paycheck while learning instead of the potential of debt from college loans. “Even if you’re at a state school, you probably have 20 grand a year, $80,000, in debt over four years,” he said. “But in four years with the building trades, you probably make an average of $50,000 a year.”
SMALLER STRUGGLES While large employers may have the larger number of jobs to fill, small firms, too, have been challenged to keep staffing up. “We’re surviving,” said Raymond Paganini, CEO of Cornerstone IT in Mentor, which provides managed information technology services to a range of businesses. “I mean, for a while there, when, you know, everything hit the fan, we were little short staffed and everybody had to chip in. We had to work overtime to cover everything and, fortunately, we were able to service the clients. “Paganini said he hired placement firms to replace staff he’s lost through the pandemic and, in addition to the added cost of the placement services, he’s paying 20% to 25% more in salaries than he was three years ago. He’s made other changes as well. “We loosened our restrictions on what the (hiring) requirements were,” he said. “No longer did you have to be based in Northeast Ohio; we were OK with going a little wider, even outside Ohio.” He said his staff of 18 now includes two people working outside Northeast Ohio. In July, Cornerstone IT was acquired by Logically Inc., a large managed services provider base in Portland, Maine, that has made 10 similar acquisitions since 2019. Paganini, a serial entrepreneur, said the rising costs were not a factor in the sale; rather, it was a planned sale. He had set a goal several years ago. “I had a goal in my mind where I wanted the company to consider being acquired by a large company,” he said. “So I hit that level in 2020.”When he saw the company was over the pandemic hump, in particular with staffing, he revisited his sale plans.” I like where the new company’s going,” he said. “And they actually have a recruitment office.” Lydia Tyner works at Talan. The firm has added 20 workers this year and hopes to reach 100 workers in the next few years.
CASTING A WIDER NET The staffing shortage has also hit the more creative side of the business world; jobs that, in earlier times, would see resumes flooding in. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum recently had nine jobs posted on Indeed.com, including one for a “Garage Musician.” The Rock Hall needs to hire several performing musician at $16 an hour to work in its garage space, performing with guests, teaching instrument performance and participating in jam sessions. It’s also looking for a communications director, security representatives, an audio engineer and something called the programming and visitor engagement coordinator. Thunder::tech, a Cleveland marketing firm, has five jobs posted on its website, including for positions that support content management systems and application developers. It’s also looking to hire what it calls a web development apprentice — someone who wants a career developing websites. CEO Jason Therrien said his 50-person firm, which has an office in Detroit in addition to its headquarters on Perkins Avenue in Cleveland, has hired 10 people in the last two years and has begun to consider people who live beyond those two cities to work remotely. That’s a key part of what Therrien called the new “negotiables and flexibles. “Flexibles, in addition to where people live, are such things as start times and breaks in the workday once they get started. “Especially with families, we tell them to block the time on their calendars when they’re picking their kids up from school; we never override that,” Therrien said. “And we also say we won’t try to call them during those times because that’s important to them. Now, when the kid gets home and they settle them down, they get back on. “Therrien said his company has also changed how it evaluates long-distance job candidates. “We built a matrix of how we score and look at candidates from afar,” he said. “We prefer the time zone to be Eastern or Central and, obviously, more points for being in state or within a (reasonable) drive of an office. But if we find a rock star outside of that group, fine, we’ll hire them now where we would’ve never even entertained it.”
Read original release here.
Miller, Jay (2022, November 14) Companies Get Creative Employers find new ways to attract, retain workers. Crain’s Cleveland Business. Retrieved from https://www.crainscleveland.com/crains-forum-jobs/employers-share-their-ideas-attract-and-keep-workers