For a gauge of just how tight the labor market is, look no further than the company that makes Banana Boat sunscreen and Playtex tampons.
Edgewell Personal Care Co. has restored manufacturing staffing to pre-pandemic levels, resorting to recruitment from industries such a food service to maintain production, chief executive officer Rod Little said in an interview. But employees continue to leave at a fast clip, and it’s still difficult to find replacements.
That’s why Little wasn’t surprised by US data showing that hiring unexpectedly surged in January, he said. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week that interest rates need to keep rising in part because the labor market is “extraordinarily strong.”
“Turnover’s still pretty high,” Little said. “We’ve got it in balance, but it’s a lot of extra effort to get it there.”
Attrition for office staff is less than it was before the pandemic, but “we still see that our best people have lots of options,” Little said.
Besides labor, Little is seeing a difficult environment for deals.
“Valuations are still stubbornly high for good assets,” he said. “We’re not actively out looking to do incremental M&A deals in this moment.”
By Daniela Sirtori-Cortina
Even as companies have worked out many big pandemic-era questions, new ones are on the horizon, including how to keep employees engaged during tough times.