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posted: 5/21/2018 1:00 AM

Help Wanted. Where have all the people gone?

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"Help wanted." The signs are everywhere. But why are employers having trouble finding talent? While many factors are in play, the reality is it's a numbers game.

Business, education and government leaders have been looking at the talent pipeline for the past 30 years. Right now in the United States, 10,000 people are turning 65 every day. The Baby Boomers are wrapping up their work life and are now moving toward retirement. This a big deal because the numbers really do matter. The largest generation ever, the Baby Boomers, is moving out. Generation X, representing millions fewer people, is filling in. And the Millennials, the new "largest generation ever" are beginning their takeover of the workplace, but don't own it … yet!

Another factor is the homogeneous nature of the Upper Midwest. Populations in this area are 80-85 percent Caucasian and this population has a lower fertility rate. In addition, the lack of diversity has hurt the region because it makes the recruitment of minorities a bigger challenge. Migration patterns across the Upper Midwest are not faring well in terms of attracting additional talent. And, the region is getting old, fast. Illinois, for example, will double the number of residents over the age of 65 in the next two decades. Think about the ramifications of that phenomenon! So, low birth rates, out-migration, difficulty recruiting minorities, aging population . . . you get the picture.

What are Midwest states doing to combat the talent shortage?

• Utilizing urban areas as great places for Millennials

• Educating current students on in-state opportunities

• Identifying markets where people are likely to move to the Midwest

• Educating and training the least educated in their communities

• Influencing the Federal government on immigration reform

• Working on their state's image, both nationally and globally

As an employer, there are many things you can do in the short term:

• Update your web presence to attract candidates

• Use the interview process to sell candidates

• Ensure your onboarding process is effective

• View human resources as sales … for people

• View your employees as recruiters

• Conduct "stay" reviews to ensure employee satisfaction

• Meet the generational needs of all employees

In the long-term, employers need to build a solid talent supply chain:

• Educate middle school students on careers

• Offer work experiences to high school students

• Serve on college advisory boards

• Offer internships

• Talk to your employees who are parents

• Establish your brand and be a preferred employer

For the foreseeable future, the war for talent is over and the employees won! While there are obstacles in the road, innovative employers continue to find talent by understanding the needs of their next hire. Failure to do so means the "Help Wanted" sign will be in the window for quite some time!

• Jim Morgan is vice president of member experience at MRA -- The Management Association. Visit or follow MRA on LinkedIn at, Facebook at, or Twitter: @MRA_HR_Pros.