Kent Gregoire is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member and founder of Symphony Advantage, a boutique consulting company. As the world's seventh certified Conscious Capitalism consultant, he helps organizations unleash their entrepreneurial spirit for good. We asked Kent how entrepreneurs can address the talent shortage while simultaneously elevating humanity. Here's what he shared:

In September, the U.S. Labor Department reported an all-time record high of 10.9 million job openings, shattering the pre-pandemic record by more than 2.5 million additional job postings. I hear it often from businesses of every size, region, and industry: A lack of available workers, both unskilled and qualified, is their No. 1 pain point.

American employers are not alone facing this issue: Globally, the proportion of employers complaining that they can no longer find the right staff is close to 40 percent. Countries such as Japan and Peru are struggling at levels over 80 percent!

Unfortunately, the talent shortage crisis is not going to get better. An extensive Korn Ferry report recently found that, by 2030, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled because there aren't enough people to take them worldwide. Left unchecked, by 2030, the talent shortage could represent approximately $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. 

Covid is NOT (only) to blame

First, let's look at the causes behind this global talent crisis. Much of the shortage is based on simple demographic trends. Japan and many European nations, for instance, have had low birth rates for decades. Last year, the U.S. experienced the lowest birth rate in its history. In addition, 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. alone will be retiring sooner rather than later, and there simply aren't enough Generation X workers to replace them. Younger generations will not have had the time or training to fill many of the jobs left behind. 

While Covid is not the fundamental cause for this generalized talent shortage, it undeniably acted--and continues to act--as an accelerant. The pandemic spurred workers to re-evaluate what they want from their employers and life in general. For many, it was a wake-up call that a different future is possible at a time when record-high job openings entice them with new opportunities. That's why, in the last 18 months, we have witnessed record-low participation in the labor force by American workers who are 25- to 54-years-old. Finally, travel restrictions due to Covid mean that foreign-born workers face unprecedented--if not insurmountable--challenges to obtain work visas to cross borders.

Given these demographics and circumstantial trends, it's now clear that employers will need a strong workforce plan to address this talent shortage. However, traditional capitalism--focused on maximizing profits at all costs--offers few effective solutions. On the other hand, conscious capitalism provides concrete steps to help employers and employees alike build a stronger, more sustainable workforce.

10 steps to address the talent shortage crisis in your organization

  1. Purpose: Increasingly, a job is about more than a paycheck. It's about having a purpose and making an impact. Give your employees meaningful work geared toward solving a worthwhile societal and environmental challenge.
  2. Pay higher wages! It's about supply and demand.
  3. Provide meaningful benefits, including quality health insurance and child care services, if relevant.
  4. Beware of perks that do more harm than good. Unlimited PTO is one: Without clear boundaries, employees have no idea how much vacation is too much vacation, so they end up taking less time off for fear of getting let go. According to Namely, employees with access to unlimited PTO take an average of 13 days off per year.
  5. As a leader, bring out the best in people by inspiring them instead of focusing primarily on management or time micromanagement.
  6. Build your internal pipeline of talent by providing meaningful skill-development training, together with concrete upward mobility opportunities.
  7. Include all stakeholders in your recruitment efforts: leadership team, employees, HR department, recruiters, vendors, etc.
  8. Provide development opportunities outside of the workplace. Employees want to feel valued as human beings and, therefore, cared for in and out of the workplace.
  9. Provide flexibility when it comes to location and WFH policies.
  10. Promote work-life balance. Set clear expectations and boundaries around availability, and working after hours or at home. Leaders help define the value of well-being improvement through setting personal examples and reinforcement. When the leadership team supports and highlights well-being improvement, employees will follow that example.

These are pragmatic steps companies can take to establish themselves as great places to work and attract the talent they need to grow and thrive. It's about following the four tenets of conscious capitalism: purpose, conscious leadership, stakeholder orientation, and caring culture, which will foster a true win-win situation in which both employees and employers achieve their respective and collective goals.