Back in January I wrote:
"The economy will gradually improve over the course of 2011, which is mostly good news, but will present some challenges to business. Notably, your best employees will have opportunities at other companies. You may still be hunkered down, with no bonuses or raises, making you seriously at risk of losing key staff members."
Today's Wall Street Journal headline pronounces "Help Wanted on Factory Floor." I love saying I told you so. Companies are having trouble finding factory workers for several reasons. Some of the folks they downsized in the recession went into retirement. The flow of new people headed into manufacturing has dwindled. The young people who have the math skills to succeed in a modern factory usually head to college.
The bright news is that the young people who do go into manufacturing work are making good wages, usually with no college loans to pay off. The bad news is that many companies won't be able to ramp up fully because of a lack of talent.
Every business should be ready to expand its staff. If you don't have a plan to hire, develop one. You may not have the sales to justify executing the plan right now, but that's OK. Developing the plan ahead of time is crucial. Some of the things you'll want to do require a little bit of effort months ahead of time. Having your expansion plan will enable you to hit the ground running when the time comes that you need to hire.
Call me if you need help. Although I'm not an HR expert, I've seen plenty of good practices, and I can coach your people on developing their own plans.
You might also want to check out the complete list of 11Business Challenges in 2011.