Recent news alerts from SHRM provide an overview of how much the job openings and employee departures have fallen in the last month. During a conversation with someone recently, A People Partner repositioned this narrative. Rather than talk about a labor shortage where 10.7 million open positions were available in June and how there is still a gap between the massive amount of openings and the number of unemployed workers, we wanted to focus on a solution.

Our experience working in HR throughout different industries has shown us that positions are linear. Organizations hire talent with a specific position title which they expect them to do 75% of the time or greater. Why that statistic you might ask? Well, when reviewing compensation data that is sometimes the percentage positions are being matched against since the titles in the data don’t always align perfectly.

We need to move away from this linear way of thinking. Organizations should be cross-training talent, not out of necessity for their organization but out of desire from the workforce. Think about this, how many of you are passionate about something within your organization that is not a function of your role? For example, our CEO, Alysa Southall, enjoys writing and taking pictures but worked in HR. So rather than hiring a communications person to handle the intranet activities like taking photos or writing content, the organization could ask someone like Alysa if they are interested in supporting that function. However, it’s important that the organization mention they are not requiring the employee to work more hours to support this and that their goals and objectives for the year will be adjusted so that they can incorporate these items since they may not have time for others that were targeted this year. This would require that other HR team members take on more functions within the department. In our experience, many of the individuals working in an organization have other interests besides the ones that fit inside their position box and they want to be able to contribute their skills in more ways than are being utilized. So find out what your employees like to do or are passionate about.

Now, you can’t just ask your employees to take on new or different work without improving their compensation. However, if you recall you were going to post this position and make an external hire. This would have cost you a premium due to the competitive rates and the cost of training and onboarding. Save your organization money and utilize the individuals that already work for your company! But remember, you need to take that money that you were going to use for the new hire and increase the salary of the employee who is taking on the extra work, because now their scope of work has changed. You probably can’t align it with market data because those two positions don’t correlate on a chart. But, you can determine what percentage of the role they assumed and pay them additional compensation that is based on that percentage. If you chose this approach, it would not only reduce the number of open positions in your organization and throughout the U.S., but it would also allow for stronger compensation for deserving employees and potentially happier workers. The increase to their satisfaction isn’t just monetarily based, but due to the fact that they are able to contribute to the organization in new ways that they are passionate about. This will most likely improve productivity as well.

Rather than posting positions and asking your employees to refer individuals, first ask them if they are passionate about any of the tasks in a role that needs to be posted. If it’s not feasible for one person to solely take them on, consider developing a group where the responsibilities of the tasks can be shared among the team. For example, you could bring together a group of people that like to write and take pictures and see if they each want to take on different pieces of the newsletter that the organization produces.

When considering this approach remember the following:

  • Ask employees if they’re interested in supporting the functions first (don’t require them to take on more work if they aren’t passionate about it).
  • Don’t make them work more hours as a result of this new scope of work. Instead, find a way to adjust work loads.
  • Adjust their compensation to reflect the new scope of work. (You may also need to adjust their teammates compensation if those individuals are taking on more work as a result).
  • Adjust goals and objectives according to the new responsibilities so they feel like their contributions (regardless of title) are being assessed accordingly.

If you are interested in taking this approach within your organization, but don’t have time or aren’t sure where to start, contact A People Partner and we can help you!