Admitting You Have a Workforce Problem is the First Step to Solving it

May 30, 2016 | Uncategorized

In case you haven’t heard, Maine (and the US) is facing a workforce problem. That means we are in a phase where it is a job seekers market. Businesses and service providers are starting to really feel the effect of this. Many industries who are desperate for skilled professionals are “stealing” workers from each other by offering higher pay to workers who have been trained by one business but then get snatched up by another (for a higher wage). Great for the worker, not so great for the business owner who invested the time and money training the employee.  

Businesses and service providers (job creators) will need to think about their workforce development in a very different way to solve the looming problem.  One way to look at the problem is to apply the Problem, Solution, Effect model.


First you need to understand that every problem has a solution and every solution has an effect.

Solutions can be grouped into five categories:  Accommodate, Dominate, Move, Invent and Tolerate (ADMIT). Once a solution is applied, the problem either ends, continues or a new/different problem is created.  


The job creator has a problem – it is losing a ton of money due to high-turnover and/or inefficient or lost production due to lack of unskilled labor. It needs to solve this workforce development problem efficiently and effectively. I will apply the 5 different solutions to the same problem so we can see what each solution looks like:

Accommodate – Job creator recognizes others have the same problem and works with them to solve it.  Collectively, through associations, they reach out to the education system, use new ways of communicating their needs to the future pipeline and get people interested in and trained for those careers.  The potential for ending the problem is very good in this scenario.

Dominate – The job creator uses the “stealing from each other” approach, which costs them more and may not really solve the problem long term. This is happening across many sectors and as mentioned earlier, great for the employee, but is not an effective or efficient long term workforce development strategy. It likely continues and creates new problems.

Move – Job creator decides to relocate to where the workforce exists. It could solve the problem, but it is very costly and risky. In the case of a service like a hospital looking for nurses, moving is not a likely option at all.

Invent – Job creator decides to try something new that has never done before. They might try a new way to do outreach, attract their employees in a non-traditional way. It might work, it might not, but that “business as usual” approach is no longer an option.  In this scenario, there will likely be that tipping point where inventing or trying a new approach is seen as the only solution but the job creator won’t know until they try.  

Tolerate – The job creator does nothing, tolerates the situation, or waits for the problem to go away.  Probably safe to say this doesn’t end the problem for them.
There are solutions to the workforce problem, but job creators will need to work collaboratively (Accommodate) and think creatively (Invent) if they want to solve their looming problem (recruiting/retention), because Dominating, Moving, and Tolerating are not effective or efficient solutions.