Tips for Overcoming the Sansdemic, Demographic Drought & Silver Tsunami

Episode #1055: Severin Sorensen, host and curator of the Arete Coach Podcast, reviews current hiring challenges faced by businesses nationwide due to the lack of available labor and talent. While some call this phenomenon a “sansdemic,” “the demographic drought,” or “silver tsunami,” the overall phenomenon is a lack of workers in the workforce. Severin examines facts, research, and insights about the declining workforce, and provides recommendations for how to navigate hiring challenges—including his own hiring and recruitment strategies.


About Severin Sorensen

Severin Sorensen is a serial entrepreneur and lifetime learner with a passionate curiosity for people and businesses. Severin is the CEO of ePraxis LLC, a premier level retained search firm that provides executive headhunting, talent selection, and executive coaching. In addition to finding top talent, Severin has provided over 7,500+ hours of paid executive coaching to entrepreneurs, CEOs, Presidents, and C-level executives. Severin is an ICF ACSTH Certified Executive Coach, Certified Organizational Development Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Positive Intelligence® Coach. Severin is the founder/producer of a new podcast, Arete Coach, that explores the art and science of executive coaching with some of the industry's best coaches.


From 2010-2018 Severin was also a Vistage Chair where he coached three CEO and key executive groups. In 2011, Severin received the "Rookie of the Year Chair Award" from Vistage. Since 2013, Severin has added international speaking for Vistage, CEO conferences, executive peer groups, and corporations on the topic of identifying and hiring difference-making top talent.


After graduate school, Severin moved to Washington, DC, where he worked on security-related economic and public policy issues that included a brief stint in The White House, as a Special Assistant to the President, for George H. Bush (POTUS 41). In 1994, Severin founded Sparta Consulting Corp., and Sparta provided world-class physical security and safety related management consulting services for public and private sector entities. From 1994-2002, Severin managed HUD's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design technical assistance and training program. In 2005, Severin sold Sparta to Westec Interactive (Digital Witness), which was subsequently acquired by Interface Security.


Severin, a native Californian, grew up in Salt Lake City, UT and graduated with honors from the University of Utah with Economics and Political Science degrees. He completed graduate studies in economics at King's College, Cambridge University (England), where he earned a M.Phil. degree in Economics. Severin has a great love and appreciation for sports, and while overseas, Severin rowed for the King's College Boat Club, and played basketball for the Cambridge University Basketball Team (1986-87).


Key highlights

The silver tsunami

Timestamp 00:57

“COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of the forecasted silver tsunami; the age when baby boomers would withdraw from the workforce.” Severin discusses several sources who have pointed out the effects that COVID-19 has had on demographics within the workplace. For more information about the silver tsunami, otherwise known as the sansdemic, read our “Facing the New Sansdemic” insight article.

Labor shortage insights

Timestamp 05:11

Severin reviews key facts and insights regarding the labor shortage:

  1. There are more open jobs than there are people to fill them. According to the St. Louis Reserve (FRED), there are 35.8% more open jobs posted by companies than there are known available unemployed candidates to fill them. This alone points to the importance of “steal-away” hires.

  2. There are more baby boomers, and a few next-geners, who have decided to retire early and likely not come back to the workforce without increased pay and greater flexibility. Pew Research found that in Q3 2020, about 28.6 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement. More recently, Pew Research reports that 40 percent of baby boomers are now retired.

  3. Not only are there fewer workers now, those who are in unemployment roles do not typically have the skilled knowledge employers need now.

  4. People who remain working, and are qualified, are in extreme demand—and they know it. The price for talented labor has climbed, just like real estate prices, largely because available skilled talent is unavailable and in high demand.

  5. Software indicates a surplus of available jobs compared to qualified job candidates. For example, in a recent search, it was found that of the 8,235 job listings for a Director of Engineering role, there were 282 qualified candidates.

  6. Knowledge workers have more information and insight on compensation than anytime before. For the mere price of sharing an email and personal compensation, candidates are receiving access to data that's helping them in the negotiations battle for wages.

The free agent economy

Timestamp 16:30

The decrease in available job candidates has increased the bargaining power of qualified candidates looking for employment. Severin states that “we are entering the free agent economy where highly valuable knowledge workers are worshiped and sought after like professional athletes.” Employees can now access compensation and salary information from a variety of companies from websites like levels.fyi. Severin reviews what information this website gives to its users and explains how it can be a powerful bargaining tool in wage negotiation and hiring processes. Employees are now a scarce resource in today’s marketplace.


How to overcome the labor shortage

Timestamp 20:33


Severin shares 20 strategies that business leaders should consider when working to overcome the challenges brought about by the labor shortage. For additional information about each one strategy, read our “20 Hiring Strategies to Find & Retain Talent and Overcome the Silver Tsunami” insight article.

  1. Focus on the Automation Imperative

  2. Evaluate the basket of goods you sell

  3. Look into outsourcing

  4. Determine geographical job requirements

  5. Use humans to recruit

  6. Increase pay for performance options

  7. Greatly speed up your hiring processes

  8. Actively manage your talent pool

  9. Use as many talent boards as you can

  10. Let AI tools work for you

  11. Reduce friction in your candidate selection process

  12. Define the hiring process

  13. Prevent regrettable and untimely departures

  14. Consider additional deferred compensation

  15. Advertise to the aging population

  16. Keep up with the latest research

  17. Hire employees who are already working

  18. Create a steal-away strategy

  19. Hire a headhunter or recruiting service

  20. Be patient

Bonus: The art of the steal-away hire

Timestamp 34:43


Severin shares his top 3 strategies he uses as a professional headhunter when conducting a “steal-away hire” or a recruitment from an outside company. These strategies include identifying top competitors and top employees, using bidders’ meetings, and placing strategic advertisements.


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