Workforce Trends & Realities



Earlier this week, the Michigan Bankers Association and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce hosted the Economic & Workforce Summit. The annual event provides expert perspectives on the state of the economy and significant trends impacting it. The workforce was a prime topic at this year’s event. Given the critical role associations play in attracting and developing workforces for their industries, I thought I’d share some interesting points discussed during the opening session.

The session entitled Future Proofing Michigan’s Workforce featured U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Economist Curtis Dubay, Kelly Chief Talent Officer Jocelyn Lincoln, Davenport University President Dr. Richard Pappas, and Talent 2025 President Kevin Stotts. Bridge Business Editor Paula Gardner moderated it. Significant takeaways included:

  • The U.S. is experiencing a workforce shortage at an unprecedented level. There are presently 3.6 million more jobs than unemployed workers to fill them. The pandemic and the related financial relief exacerbated already significant labor shortages in many industries.
  • A poll of unemployed workers conducted by the U.S. Chamber revealed:
    • People are unlikely to reenter the workforce before the end of the year and, in many cases, may delay their return up to six months.
    • Reluctance to return to the workforce is based on fear of COVID, childcare issues, and personal savings accumulated during the pandemic.
    • Incentives such as sign-on bonuses of at least $1,000 and flexible work schedules may provide some inducement, but employers will need to be very creative when it comes to incentivizing return-to-work  
  • The prospective workforce is changing rapidly:
    • 50% of current employees are looking for new jobs, and half of those folks are looking to change industries.
    • Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65.
    • There is a growing preference for part-time work.
  • By 2025 millennials will be 75% of the workforce. Millennials are looking for more responsibility, flexible hours, professional development and growth opportunities, a voice in decision-making, and approachable leaders.

The panel identified strategies to attract and retain workforces that may be of particular interest to association leaders focused on lending support to their industries throughout this shortage:

Recruitment and retention should be approached with a marketer’s eye. Workers and prospective workers care about convenience, choice, and control. The extent to which employers and industries can infuse these characteristics into their industries, organizations, and outreach, the more success they’ll have.

 Upskilling and reskilling of the existing workforce is critical. Programs that support employee development and growth – for soft skills and hard skills - are attractive incentives. Employers and industries should consider partnerships that provide employees access to high-quality development opportunities.  

Culture trumps strategy (still). Employers should put real effort into creating a welcoming atmosphere and positive company culture. This includes a creative approach to employee benefits, sincere efforts with regard to DE&I, and reputation management. 

Additional details and a recording of the event are available at