5 Questions With…Katherine Creek

5 Questions With…Katherine Creek

In the new feature, 5 Questions With…, Katherine Creek, vice president of human resources for Shepherd Center, talks with us about the current labor shortage, what’s driving it, and what both employers and employees can do to help.

What is causing the labor shortage?

The U.S. Department of Labor reported nearly 4 million people quit their jobs in July of 2021. In all, almost 16 million people have left their jobs since April 2021, producing the highest quit rate the U.S. government has recorded since it began collecting the data in 2001.

Around the world, the pandemic has led many people to reconsider what’s important in their personal and professional lives. Workers are prioritizing family and free time and want to work for an organization that rewards and values them as individuals. As a result, millions of employees are seeking new career opportunities or exiting the job market temporarily or altogether.

Additionally, with more employees working away from the office, the camaraderie, work friendships, and other ties that often bond workers to an organization have weakened.

What other factors are contributing to the decrease in labor supply?

  • Schools and child care closings during the pandemic have forced many to stop working to take care of children or support other family members at home.
  • A large share of the workforce has decided to switch careers.
  • Many workers have experienced burnout.
  • Some older workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic have decided to retire early instead of looking for a new job, while others retired due to health concerns posed by the pandemic.
  • Employees now have more bargaining power. Prior to the pandemic, few workers were in a position where they could demand greater benefits or choose to leave a job they didn’t want to be at.

Why is it so hard to find labor right now?

  • Matching unemployed workers to job openings is more difficult now than in the beginning of the pandemic recovery due to the exhaustion of worker recalls, increasing skill gaps in particular occupations, and a closing employment gap.
  • Compensation levels have increased.
  • Some unemployed people are looking for work, but not urgently, and others are being more selective in their employment search due to unemployment insurance payments, child care responsibilities, financial cushions, and fears of COVID.

What are employees looking for today?

Employees want flexibility from their employer to accommodates their lifestyle, including where and when they work. Other requirements include better compensation, meaningful work, and career development.

What can companies do to retain and attract new talent?

Ask your employees what they want. Don’t wait for your annual engagement survey results. Look for real-time employee feedback to create a more agile and adaptable company culture. Be supportive of employees’ mental health and well-being. Provide parent-friendly policies, and build trust with employees working remotely, focusing on output rather than the number of hours worked.

With many people reconsidering their career paths, companies should look for ways to train and develop new hires and current employees, defining clear growth plans for employees for a post-pandemic world.


Are you experiencing labor shortages? Talk with a CBORD expert today about ways you can use your system to help automate tasks and redirect your resources to create an enhanced customer experience.