June 21, 2021
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A new survey from The Conference Board reports U.S. businesses are facing historic difficulty in finding qualified workers. According to this survey, it is especially difficult for small businesses in the service industry,

Worker Shortage Problems for Small Businesses

The survey looks at the human capital response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the pandemic is still affecting everyone, the impact of corona virus on small businesses is particularly hard.

For those hiring mostly industry and manual services workers, 80% of the respondents are having a hard time finding qualified workers. Twenty-five percent of them say they are finding it very difficult to find workers, and 55% somewhat difficult. Before the pandemic, only four percent said they found it difficult to find qualified workers.

The numbers for organizations with professional and office workers did not fluctuate that much before and after the pandemic (April 2021).


image: conference-boardThe problem also extends to retaining workers for industry and manual services organizations. Before the pandemic, 27% found it difficult to retain their workforce, and it went up to 41% in April 2021. And three percent said it was very difficult before and eight percent after.

For professional and office workers 22% said it was difficult before and 25% after. And as far as being very difficult it was one percent before and three percent after.


image: conference-boardBusinesses across all industries are going to face more challenges when it comes to finding workers as the economy reopens. Frank Steemers, Senior Economist at The Conference Board, says “This poses a growing challenge to companies that are looking to attract and retain this cohort of the US workforce.”

However, he also points out this is going to bode well for workers. Adding it will accelerate wage growth and more employment opportunities.

Coming Challenges

The survey points out companies looking to hire will face challenges in the coming months. This will likely cover most industries as they ramp up output to meet the growing demand from the opening economy.

The challenges are:

  • Recruiting qualified workers and retaining existing ones
  • Adjusting to many employees working primarily remotely
  • Addressing deteriorating employee well-being
  • Managing the return to the workplace

Remote Work and Well Being

Remote work and well-being seem to go hand in hand as more people work from home without the social interactions of an office. When it comes to remote work, close to 75% of organizations had less than 10% of their employees working remotely in April 2020.  In 2021, human capital executives expect 40% or more of their employees to still work primarily remotely one year after COVID-19 subsides.


image: conference-boardThe report says, “Expect workplaces to be emptier and more diffused as remote work remains the norm post-pandemic.” Workers are saying they are burned out, working more hours, using employee assistance, and seeking mental health support.


image: conference-boardThis survey was conducted by The Conference Board in April 2021 with the participation of more than 230 HR executives. The respondents weighed in about the ongoing impact of COVID-19 regarding the workforce as well as the workplace.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “New Survey Quantifies Worker Shortage Problem for Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends