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Q&A: Laundry Labor Update (Part 1)

Recruiting expert shares insights on the current state of industry labor

CHICAGO — The current job market in the United States is one of the most unusual the country has experienced.

Job openings remain high while worker shortages continue since many people are hesitant to return to work after isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost every industry is facing a lack of workers to fill jobs, including the laundry and linen services industry.

American Laundry News communicated with Deana Griffin, president of The Griffin Group, a specialist in recruiting employees for uniform and linen/textile, food, healthcare, and service industries for 23 years, about the state of hiring and retaining employees in the industry.

What’s the current state of hiring/training/retention in the laundry industry?

Several things are taking place regarding this job market. Companies are experiencing a candidate job market vs. an employer-driven market across the board for all industries. “Leading the market” compensation packages are being offered in order to attract talent. Workers are fleeing the urban areas to rural areas and are slow to migrate back.

There is an increased volume of job opportunities for all positions within the industry. Laundries are cross-training employees for multiple positions.

Retaining employees is harder than ever due to a plethora of job opportunities. If an employee isn’t happy, they will immediately start the search process for new opportunities. They are switching industries more so than ever and the “Great Resignation” is here. The nation’s “quit rate” reached a 20-year high in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working remotely remains a top factor when considering new job opportunities in 2022.

Pay increases are failing to keep up pace with the inflation rate of 6.8% reported in November. Benefits and other perks are being evaluated post pandemic in order to attract talent. Finding a new career opportunity is easier today vs. prior to the pandemic.

What is affecting labor most (fear, wages, etc.) at this time?

Employers are faced with increased wages/salaries in order to attract top talent. Employees can demand a higher salary that is aligned with their skill set due to the lack of supply of talent. 

Ghosting from companies and candidates is happening more. Today, the ability to have a frank and direct conversation is a dying art. Ghosting, either from an employer or candidate, is poor business acumen and betrays a lack of empathy when it comes to appreciating the amount of effort that goes into the job hunting and hiring processes.

With today’s technology and communication tools available to all of us, ghosting should never be a factor. A simple communication can be the difference between a good or bad employer and a consumer brand.

This statement also implies the same meaning when it comes to a candidate—the difference between a good and a bad candidate. Candidates ghost employers out of “fear’ and “ego.” Clients “ghost” because of better candidates and lack of decisiveness of whether to hire or not to hire.

The labor shortage is still a major concern. The rental uniform and linen/textile industry is one of the hardest industries to work in and attracting top talent is more challenging. This isn’t a glamorous industry and one that most individuals don’t consider when deciding on a new career opportunity. 

The old adage applies here, “You get more flies with honey.” Employers need to “sell” the potential candidate on why they should join their organization during the interviewing process. Employers need to communicate the pros to why it would be beneficial for candidates to make a transition.

Hiring decisions need to be shortened due to a plethora of other career opportunities. If you snooze, you will lose a top talented candidate, which has a trickle-down effect within the organization. Top talented individuals and job seekers are receiving multiple contacts for great opportunities per day, which has increased due to the labor shortage we are experiencing today.

Employees are handling more job responsibilities today within their job descriptions due to labor shortages, which causes burnout, employees seeking new career opportunities, low employee morale, lack of effective communication, work ethic challenges and increased hours without increased wages.

How are laundry operations dealing with fewer employees?

This issue causes employers to examine their entire business model. Companies are:

  • Looking for ways to outsource, automate (robots).
  • Addressing issues of longer cycle times for sales, service, product and overall operations.
  • Hiring temporary workers in the interim and, hopefully, they can become full-time employees.
  • Transferring talent to locations where there are labor shortages if they have multiple locations (looking for talent in-house).
  • Forced to create and offer more perks/incentives for their employees.
  • Making retaining employees a priority because a record number of employees are quitting now—the “Great Resignation.”
  • Being flexible with employees’ schedules—working remotely.
  • Hiring better talent in order to fill two or three positions vs. one.
  • Considering an intern or creating apprenticeship programs.

Also, temporary foreign workers are possible candidates. According to the press release from Homeland Security, the Department of Labor (DOL) made more visas available for the first half of the fiscal year—20,000 H-2B visas.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion on signs of returning workforce, hiring/retaining strategies.

Q&A: Laundry Labor Update

(Image licensed by Ingram Image)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].