Combating the Talent Drought

August 20, 2021

Our August 2021 topic was “Combating the Talent Drought.”  Our discussions focused on attracting and retaining employees.

August 2021 Take-Aways:

Global:  Create a Hiring/Recruiting position within your company.  Consider implementing a new potential employee process which includes a self-examination session(s) and help candidates get to know themselves better and determine what they truly want from a job.  Follow up with discussions on whether they are right for your team.

Employees today are looking for development, mentoring and growth.  When onboarding new employees, be prepared to discuss a 3–5-year career plan. 

One RT member turned to the local community college to look for top students.  Their company is now working with students with 1-2 years left in school and offering paid internships and working to keep the interns after college graduation. 

Per Barron’s Magazine, 83% of employees would give up a pay increase for flexibility.  Many now want a flex position that will allow them to work part time in the office, part time at home.

Leaders must be willing to look at themselves and understand how they come across to their employees and understand how their behaviors may be impacting culture and employee retention.  How is their tone of voice, what message does their face and body language convey when speaking to others?  Above all else, employees want to feel safe more than they want a bonus. 

As leaders, we must genuinely care and understand what employees are dealing with in their personal lives and have structures in place to support their teams.

One large bank recently gave all employees a $500 bonus, not just signing bonuses for new hires.


As Leaders, it is important to engage employees more, listen and be genuinely interested in your team and their issues. 

Find out what they love to do or what they would love to do in your organization.  A company may not be able to completely change the employee’s current position, but assigning small tasks related to their interests will help motivate and retain employees.

Can you streamline processes to reduce the need for additional labor?  Do you have, “a lot of people in the sand box, or in other people’s sand boxes?”  Is there duplication of effort that can be eliminated?  Less duplication, less need for additional employees.

Attracting employees is a Sales and Marketing effort.  One RT member is working to re-brand the skilled trades industry to junior and high school students.  Construction is seen as attracting ‘bottom of the barrel’ talent.  They are working to change that perspective and present industry jobs as skilled, desirable, and potentially lucrative.

Grand Rapids:

Spend time with employees in groups and individually to share your sense of mission and vision until it becomes theirs as well.

Make sure you genuinely care about your employees and value them as your greatest asset, which must be demonstrated in tangible ways.


To attract and retain contract workers, one RT member has created a retainer where contractors have a minimal commitment. 

Identify your needs and discuss with others, as they may surprise you and have the solution to your problem.

Consider profit sharing or create some revenue share to retain employees.

There is a new emphasis on training, either new hires or current employees to fill positions where trained talent is not available.


If our companies support the right culture, the talent drought should not be impacting greatly.  The right culture wins.

Our upcoming events!

On Friday, August 27, at 7:30 am, join us as we welcome, author Dave Kahle, who will discuss, “Turbulent Times: Navigating Your Way Through Complexity in a Rapidly Changing, Information-Saturated World.

For our Grand Rapids friends, please join us on Friday, September 17, at 7:00-9:00am, for our CBRT In-Person Breakfast Social Event with guest speaker Rich Wolowski, CEO of Gordon Food Service. 

Our Q4 events begin with our Global Webinar, Friday, November 19, at 7:30am-9:00am led by Rodger Price, Owner & Founder of Leading by Design. 

For our Detroit friends, please join us Friday, December 17 at 7:00-9:00am for CBRT’s In-Person Breakfast Social, with guest speaker Rick Warren, Chairman & CEO of Weldaloy.

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations.

Other Resources: 

Labor-Shortage Solutions From “Vanishing Workforce”
A webinar from Express Employment Professionals 8/10/21

Speaker:  Ron Hetrick, Director of Staffing Products and Data, Emsi Burning Glass


  • Raise wages
  • Offer non-wage incentives
  • Simplify job requirements
  • Build company culture/Become an employer of choice
  • Establish training programs and retain your best and brightest talent


  • Workforce planning needs to be an executive-level conversation (not just for your HR team)
  • Create clear career paths quickly for your best workers
  • Consider contracting an industrial engineer to determine how to use your labor most effectively
  • Partner with prisons, colleges, high schools, and trade schools
  • Drop drug test and background check requirements

Other thoughts:

  • Make your company’s work world look more like part-time/flex: this is where workers are gravitating
  • Partner with another company to invest in an existing childcare center