COVID-19 has changed the workforce. Before the pandemic, only about 3 percent of the workforce operated from home, according to Flexjobs. Now, according to Nicholas Bloom of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, amidst the pandemic, a staggering 42 percent of the workforce is working from home. Experts are attempting to forecast what that means for the future, as more people get vaccinated and coronavirus cases begin to decline.
What does this mean for pest management and other service industries? How does this affect recruiting and operations long-term? These are just a few questions I find myself wrestling with at night.
Service industries like pest management face a major recruiting dilemma — and not because of the bugs! Recruiting has always been an ongoing battle for service companies, because employees are the greatest asset of any service organization. Now, the pool of people interested in working outside of the home has shrunk drastically. People are finding advantages in working from home and seeking jobs that facilitate the work-from-home lifestyle (90 percent of people working from home would recommend it to a friend, according to Iva Marinova of the website Review 42).
In addition to a convenient commute, or lack thereof, job seekers are looking for benefits that are important to them, as noted in Glassdoor’s Statistical Reference Guide for Recruiters. While compensation is always a factor, benefits packages can start leading the way in terms of applicants; however, this may not necessarily be a key contributor to job satisfaction.
HOW OUR COMPANY APPROACHES IT
Truly Nolen has applicants that span over five generations, with different value systems correlated to their age and stage of life. No employer can please everyone, but I believe engaging employees at all levels in the conversation about what benefits are important to them is critical as well as enlightening.
To that end, our company recently sent out a simple survey to all employees, to get feedback about all of our current and potential benefits — vacation time, a company vehicle, gym memberships, childcare, 401(k) options, etc. I want to know what our people actually want and what is important to them, not just what I think our employees want. Service companies should think about the unique offers they can provide their employees.
Our company is also investing in work-from-home flexibility for support positions like accounting and administration. This requires some shifting and limits “water cooler” interactions. But the pandemic has ensured everyone has already adjusted, so the path has been paved. Where the predicament lies is field positions. When applicants apply a work-from-home filter for their job search, great career opportunities may get overlooked. As the pool is drastically shrinking and people are seeking out remote options, as an industry, we have to reconsider our job proposition.
The opportunity we have as an industry is to rethink how we can offer benefits and a culture that you simply cannot get from working remotely. Ultimately, the dilemma becomes: How do we become an employer of choice in this new work-from-home world?
Listen to the Jan. 21 episode of the PMP Industry Insiders podcast, with Donnie Shelton of Coalmarch and Dan Gordon of PCO Bookkeepers, where Nolen was the featured guest and discussed “The Business Case for Diversity.”