WAUKESHA — Higher pay, better benefits, even help with childcare. For months, we've seen companies lay out the red carpet to attract new hires. But Wisconsin's worker shortage is still plaguing employers. Companies are forced to think outside of the box in how they attract talent. Enter MRA, one of the largest employer associations in the country.
Jim Morgan is the vice president of workforce strategy with the agency. In a recent seminar, he gave a PowerPoint presentation to business owners and human resource representatives in southeast Wisconsin.
"It might be money. It might be 401k. It might be healthcare. It might be flexibility. You got to understand the market of people that are wanting to come work for you. You can still get the work out of them. It just might not look the way you're used to it looking," Morgan said.
Morgan talked about how companies can start looking at labor pools from migrant workers, those formerly incarcerated, and at candidates living outside the Continental U.S.
"There's no place left to go. So if they say, "I don't want to go look at the prisons, I don't want to go to a different state or country, there isn't really an alternative to that anymore," he said.
Tammy Frahm with Super Steel LLC in Milwaukee attended the seminar to learn more ways her company can recruit workers.
"We have a challenge with recruiting welders, assemblers, high-end assemblers, machine operators," Frahm said. "When I first started, we could literally have forty people walk-in in a day and now I'm happy if people show up for interviews."
Data from the Department of Workforce Development shows the state added more than 25,000 jobs in July - both in the private and non-farm sectors.
Economic growth may look good but a major job market shift can't be ignored.
Morgan stresses employees, not employers, are the ones calling the shots.
"That's what's hard for people to accept. I mean I was never onboarded. I never had a mentor. I never had a buddy. Nobody ever gave me a Netflix subscription when I came to my workplace. But the whole game has changed," Morgan said.
It has. Employers, workers, and workforce experts have pointed to early retirement, workers' lack of childcare, fear of the coronavirus, or extended unemployment benefits to explain the disappearing workforce.
Morgan doesn't think the labor shortage will shrink anytime soon.
"You've got to start getting deeper into the food chain of all of the talent -- middle school, high school, technical college, University. You've got to start finding people before they're even looking. Because if you wait until they're looking, everybody else is looking too."