Dear E.A.S.I-Consult,

How can we succeed with a shrinking workforce? The last several years have been difficult with our limited available labor pool in the hospitality industry.   How can my company expand its applicant pool?

We Need Help!  SVP People, Hospitality Company


Dear We Need Help!

Your challenges are not uncommon, and you are not alone.  From my communications and professional experiences with many companies, it’s clear that the U.S., Continental Europe, and the U.K. face unprecedented challenges in filling open positions with quality employees.  According to recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate for June 2021 was 5.9%, in a downward trend.  By May of 2023, this had dropped to 3.7%.  A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that a record-high 48% of small business owners were trying to fill job openings but could not.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to the hospitality industry.  You will find this dilemma across most industries and companies, and it will not change soon.  Given this low unemployment rate, many companies are struggling to find workers.  The tight labor market, combined with a shortage of motivated or qualified candidates, means that employers are no longer simply struggling to attract talent but struggling to attract any talent at all.

One reason for this is the aging of the baby boomers, referring to the generation born between 1946 and 1964.  The baby boomer generation, one of the largest generations in U.S. history, has been transitioning into retirement over the last decade and has reached a consequential magnitude on our economy and labor force.  The result has been a labor shortage and skills gap we are experiencing today.

Another contributing factor to the challenges is the lack of motivated candidates.  Many individuals currently receive unemployment benefits and other financial assistance, making it less financially appealing for them to return to work.  This has been a point of contention for employers experiencing reduced productivity and financial losses due to the inability to fill open positions with high-performing workers.

So, what can you do in today’s shrinking labor market?

To address this challenge, employers are having to rethink their hiring strategies.  Some offer competitive salaries, benefits, signing bonuses, and other incentives to attract candidates.  Some advocates are campaigning for a more robust vocational education system that can provide workers with the necessary skills for the jobs employers find difficult to fill.

All companies need to think outside the box.  What most companies have been doing to make hiring decisions for decades no longer works today.  Hiring, based on experience, education, and skills limits options and screens out many potentially acceptable and exceptional candidates.  Our research at E.A.S.I-Consult® taught us that work attitude is the most important predictor of job success.  I think you would agree that people typically get hired for skills but fired for work attitude.  This creates a revolving door and adds to your already challenging recruitment efforts.  By focusing on work attitude, your company will expand your applicant pool and reduce turnover, lowering your need to rehire and fill open positions.

To begin, you will want to define the desired attitude.  Before starting the hiring process, clearly define the work attitude and attributes you’re looking for in an employee.  Consider the values and goals of your organization and how this attitude will contribute to that.  Develop and incorporate behavioral questions into your interviews.  Use this approach to assess the candidate’s work attitude. These types of questions ask the candidate to describe how they have handled specific situations or challenges.

To ensure you are hiring workers that will share the values of your organization, show initiative at work, provide quality outcomes, and work well with others (just a few of the critical work attitude dimensions), you should consider combining your interview with an objective assessment tool (questionnaire/test).

You might want to consider E.A.S.I-Consults’ work attitude assessment tool, the Work Styles Predictor® (WSP®).  Our 15 years of application and research have shown that the WSP® can improve your workforce in several areas.  Just a few include:

  • Dependability – can be counted on to take the initiative – to do what it takes – to get the job done
  • Adaptability – can easily adjust to work demands and changing priorities
  • Team Orientation – builds positive working relations with others to achieve work goals
  • Customer Focus – excels in providing service beyond the customer’s expectations

We have also documented the potential of a 17% reduction in turnover in the healthcare industry with the WSP®.  Similar results were found in other industries.

In summary,  you are not alone in your challenge of filling positions in today’s tight labor market.  There are clear reasons the labor pool is at a record low; baby boomers retiring and a lack of motivated candidates.  It’s time to rethink how you are hiring.  Focusing on work attitude, hiring for attitude, and training for skills will expand your applicant pool, bring you better all-around employees and reduce turnover.  Finally, you may want to think hard about using an objective assessment tool for work attitude in your hiring strategy.

Best of luck!

David E. Smith, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

E.A.S.I-Consult, LLC

If you have a question regarding the hiring process, employment testing, interviewing, or related areas you would like Dr. Smith to address, please send your inquiry to: contactus@easiconsult.com