Employers predict having to raise pay in 2022 to compete for workers

Posted at 7:07 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 20:07:19-05

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new survey of employers across the U.S. suggests that competition over new hires in 2022 could be the driving force behind an increase in base pay.

According to The Conference Board’s latest survey, employers predict base pay to increase by an average of 3.9%.

At the Sumner County YMCA, Marlene Hilligoss is staying ahead of the trend by offering incentives of her own. She’s the Sr. Program Director and coordinates hiring. In positions like lifeguards, you expect to see a lot of turnover, but she says they’ve had trouble finding people for all departments.

“Finding people that will commit to a job and then keeping them is very challenging right now,” Hilligoss said.

Hilligoss is thankful they’ve been able to stay afloat as long as they have. In part, thanks to families where multiple siblings refer one another for the job. That said, Hilligoss says multiple YMCA locations have had to close their pools during the day because they don’t have enough staff.

To keep that from happening in Sumner County, Hilligoss is now increasing starting pay for almost all departments and offering a sign-on bonus which they’ve never done before. They will also pay current employees a bonus for referrals.

“We just want to get them in our door and give them a chance to see what we’ve got. I’m sure there are other employers feeling the same way. Just come talk to us,” Hilligoss said.

Deb Wendorf is the owner of the human resource company, On Demand Solutions. She says she’s not surprised by the results of the survey that says companies plan to pay more.

“Certainly that’s important. You want to make sure people can earn a living and feel comfortable when they go home to their families, but it’s also about how much quality time do I have,” Wendorf said.

She says people now more than ever, have an idea of the flexibility they want from their employer. Part of the reason is gig work. Thousands relied on jobs where they could set their hours and buy themselves time until the right job presented itself. Instead of workers struggling to find jobs, some are now far more selective about the position they ultimately take.

Wendorf says this is now the normal we should expect. That no matter how much some employers are willing to spend, what matters for some won’t cost a thing.

“If you feel a sense of belonging and a sense of appreciation for the work that they’re doing, you’re going to have a much greater opportunity at retention,” Wendorf said.

About 40% of employers in the same survey cited inflation for why they plan to increase base pay. They say the concern is current employees are now more likely to leave if companies aren’t paying enough.

New unemployment numbers tonight show there were 184,000 initial claims in the U.S. The lowest it's been in over 50 years. Tennessee had just over 4,200 initial claims, which increased by 186 claims from the week prior.

The YMCA is hiring for all departments across Middle Tennessee locations. The Jobs4TN website also shows more than 430,000 job openings in the state.