We get it: Hiring frontline, hourly workers has not been easy this year. There’s a scarcity of skilled, qualified employees for critical roles in retail, hospitality, restaurants, healthcare, manufacturing and more. Although the frontline workforce is gigantic, hiring the right person can still feel like finding a needle in a haystack.
While it would be nice to hop into a time machine to travel back to an era when it was a little bit easier to find talent, that’s simply not happening. Frontline hiring has changed for good. But that’s okay — the hiring technologies organizations are using to find and recruit this large group of employees has changed, too.
Before we dive into those changes, let’s take a look at some surprising frontline stats you may not have known.
The frontline workforce is bigger than you think.
The frontline workforce plays a crucial role in various industries, and its size is staggering. In the United States, more than 80% of the workforce are frontline, hourly employees and globally, they make up a 2.7 billion strong workforce. Nine in ten organizations depend, at least partially, on frontline workers.
These workers are the backbone of our society, ensuring the smooth functioning of essential services and industries. For example, 20% of the frontline workforce in the U.S. is comprised of healthcare professionals. That’s a lot of people taking care of our critical needs.
The frontline workforce is young, predominantly female, and well-educated.
When some people think about the frontline workforce, they probably think of low-skilled, young, and easily replaceable workers.
The only one that is actually true is that the frontline workforce is younger, and it might not be as young as some think. Demographic data shows that about half of frontline employees are under 30.
That same data about frontline staff shows that nearly two-thirds of these roles are held by women and that more than half of employees have a Bachelors or Associates degree.
Led by healthcare, frontline workers are in high demand and low supply.
Many frontline industries were rocked by the pandemic. While healthcare and retail saw demand shift significantly, industries like hospitality and restaurants experienced disruptions, layoffs, and unexpected closures. Since that initial disruption, demand for workers has skyrocketed, with unemployment hovering around record lows of 3.5% for more than a year.
In the healthcare sector, the shortage of skilled nurses, assistants, and other medical professionals has reached critical and sometimes dangerous levels.
In fact, 58% of medical practices believe staffing will be their most significant challenge this year. Between January 2019 and December 2021, 40% of direct-care healthcare workers transitioned to another occupation leaving critical openings and gaps in experience. With an aging population and increased healthcare needs, staffing will continue to be a challenge.
Hospitality and manufacturing have acute needs as well
Healthcare isn’t an anomaly, either. The hospitality industry is down a million jobs, with housekeeping and culinary departments feeling most of the pain. Continued low unemployment and visa restrictions are limiting the labor pool that hospitality leaders can pull from at a time when people are traveling again. Customer experience and satisfaction levels are at risk in a very service-minded industry.
In manufacturing, the situation is daunting as well. By 2030, the industry is expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs and more skills gaps. Specialty industries within manufacturing don’t fare any better. The textile sector is facing a 20% workforce shortage and the metal fabrication industry predicts a 400,000-employee shortage by the end of next year. While automation and digital transformation are impacting manufacturing, it often simply changes the types of skills they need to maintain operations.
Frontline hiring technology has gotten faster, and better.
While there are some serious challenges, frontline organizations are seeing major results from changing their hiring practices. Investing in technology that streamlines recruitment and selection is one way organizations have seen improvements.
Recruiting for frontline employees is competitive. On job boards, view-to-applicant conversion rates for frontline work hover around 3%, with healthcare getting a paltry 1.7% ratio of views to applicants. Using conversational AI, organizations can make the most of a competitive hiring environment by improving candidate flow by 4x.
Overall, 76% of employers have been ghosted by candidates and the trend is prevalent in the frontline workforce. One of the major breaking points is when trying to schedule and show up for an interview. Fast and fair communication through text using conversational AI helps employers improve candidate conversion rates by 2,300% and helped reduce global hiring from 14 days to 4 days for one of the largest frontline employers in the world.
With conversational AI, recruiting leaders can also redeploy valuable time and budget to reach and hire candidates. Companies gain 5 hours per recruiter per week on tasks that are automated through conversational AI and one automaker was able to save $2 million in their first year of hiring.
Challenges are inevitable but there are real solutions to improve frontline hiring.
We can’t tell you hiring is going to get easier. In some ways, we are facing structural unemployment where long-term shifts in the economy and skills create talent scarcity. That might not change for a while but there are alternatives.
A difficult hiring environment has pushed organizations to think outside of the box and take innovative approaches to attract and retain frontline workers. Companies simply can’t use the same old tricks to get results.
Deploying solutions like conversational AI can help organizations in frontline industries succeed in hiring where others struggle.