Finding employees in a constrained labor market

Home Column Finding employees in a constrained labor market

If you’re struggling to find people willing to work for you, you are not alone. U.S. companies are facing massive labor shortages right now. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the labor participation rate is currently at 62.2%, down from 3.3% in February of 2020. There’s also plenty of anecdotal evidence of the labor shortage. “Help Wanted” signs plaster the landscape. Most of us have seen restaurants cut the number of days they’re open.

One factor for the labor shortage is that the U.S. has incentivized people not to work. In 24 states, combined unemployment benefits and subsidies for a family of four equal or exceed the median household income of $78,813. Generous COVID-19 unemployment benefits also provided a negative incentive. Other factors contributing to people not wanting to work include low pay, fears about contracting COVID-19, job dissatisfaction and poor work conditions.

According to a survey of 2,400 professionals conducted by the Robert Half consulting firm, 46% of professionals are either looking for a new job or plan to look for one in the first half of 2023. It’s unclear how long this tight labor market is going to persist. However, instead of simply waiting and hoping for the situation to improve, smart floor dealers are taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of this situation. Let’s look at effective strategies you can deploy right now.

Offer higher pay

I was on a coaching call with a dealer who desperately needed a new warehouse manager. I advised her that instead of offering a standard level of pay for the position, to instead calculate the maximum she could offer and still remain profitable. This is the approach you need to take right now because employees have lots of options—and they know it.

“But I can’t afford higher pay!” I can hear some floor dealers yelling this at me right now. If you can’t afford to pay your employees a generous salary, it’s almost always a pricing issue. If you’re below 40% margins, you’re going to struggle to offer an attractive salary package. I train dealers on strategies that empower them to command 50% margins or higher.

Great benefits

This goes along with salary. You need to be offering health insurance, a 401K plan and vacation time.


Perks make for a better work environment and make prospective (and current) employees feel appreciated. Some ideas include:

  • Health club membership
  • Weekly lunches
  • Snacks
  • Massages
  • Yoga classes
  • Office parties
  • Fun excursions

Remote work

Through COVID-19 we learned that working from home is not only possible but often  desirable. There are a number of flooring retail jobs that can be performed remotely such as bookkeeping, scheduling, project managing and answering phones. By offering the  flexibility to work from home all or part of the time, you’ll make your workplace more attractive.

Jim Augustus Armstrong is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit

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Feb. 6/13, 2023

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