The Worker Shortage and Your Lab

If you’re having trouble finding employees, all you have to do is look at the numbers to understand the problem.

The national unemployment rate stands at 3.7%—and in some states it’s even lower. In fact, in nine states, it’s below 3%. Against this backdrop, there are 7.1 million job openings.

Where are the workers to fill these jobs? Most of them are already employed.

Other Factors
Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that medical and diagnostic laboratories is one of the fastest growing industries, with a projected growth rate of 27.4% between 2016 and 2026.

Where will the workers come from, to fuel and support this growth?

If you’re thinking from other countries, you may want to think again. The number of undocumented immigrants has been steadily declining since 2007, according to the Pew Research Center.

At the same time, the Trump administration has attempted to ban legal immigrants from certain countries and reduce the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States. While some of these actions have been challenged in court, there have been short-term impacts on the labor market. Longer-term impacts depend on legal outcomes, as well as future administration efforts in this area.

Finding Solutions
So, what can you do to counteract these issues that are beyond your control?

Focus on areas where you can have an impact. These include:

  • Salary. Make sure your salaries are competitive for your industry, and that they are in line with what others are paying in your region. The salary tool at job site Indeed and Salary Wizard at can help.
  • Benefits. If you haven’t done so recently, take a look at your benefits package. How does it compare to what your competition offers? If, for example, other employers provide fully-paid medical and dental and your lab doesn’t, they have an advantage. Similarly, number of paid vacation days matter to job seekers.

Where can you find this information? Search job postings for the same or similar lab positions. Also look at job ads for regional employers outside the industry.

  • Culture. Employees sometimes leave companies, but more often they leave bosses. With this in mind, take an honest look at your workplace culture. Is management supportive? Do employees feel valued? Is there a sense of camaraderie and team spirit? How would staff members rate working at your lab? If you have no idea, it’s probably time to find out. Employee surveys can prove eye-opening.

This is important because employee referral remains a top source of new hires.

  • Retention. In addition to helping you attract new employees, attention to salary, benefits, and culture will help you keep the staff you have.

Employee recruitment and employee recruitment go hand in hand – or at least they should.

Yes, in a tight labor market, many factors are beyond your control. However, you have more control than you likely realize.

Still not convinced? Here’s another noteworthy statistic: 82% of workers are open to a new job, according to Jobvite’s 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study.


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