HONOLULU (KHON2) — More businesses are either shutting down or cutting back services as they struggle to find staff. So where have all the workers gone and how can employers get them back? KHON2 spoke with some experts for answers.

The Kauai Humane Society just announced that it will be closing on Thursdays to give their overworked staff a break. The facility has five job openings and hasn’t had much luck in filling them.

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“It’s been very difficult. We’ve been posting on multiple sites and we just don’t get a lot of people interested,” said Nicole Crane, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society.

Employment agencies said it’s the same story for a lot of other employers.

“This is the absolute worst I’ve seen it, 2008 doesn’t compare at all to this,” said Betsy Scheller, general manager of Maui Staffing at Employment Options.

While the hospitality industry has been severely affected, agencies have said the shortage is widespread. Many workers would rather sit out and wait for the ideal job opportunity. That means better pay, a place that promotes growth and job skills, and schedule flexibility by being able to work at home at least part of the time.

“Flexibility is a huge one. People want that flexibility. We’re not in the same space that we were two years ago, we’re in a completely different space,” said Nicci Olds, general manager at Staffing Solutions of Hawaii.

In order to support themselves, many take temporary jobs or start an online business at home. Much like 24-year-old Ashley Ludwick a social media influencer.

“Companies just want to have me mention them like a day in the life video or I’ve even had people say, ‘Can you use my song or something in the background?'” she said.

She said there’s a certain appeal to working on her own schedule.

“It is like I am my own boss I make my own schedule every day I wake up and I’m like what am I gonna do today I never really know where it’s gonna take me,” said Ludwick.

Agencies also point out that many of the baby boomers are retiring so the pool of workers isn’t as large as it used to be.

“The following generations just didn’t have the same number of birth rates, so we don’t have the available workers we did in the same age category that I am in,” said Scheller.

Experts said employees now have the upper hand and are able to negotiate more benefits. So it would suit employers to adjust and be able to offer flexibility and job skills.

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“The candidate is waiting to find the right fit and if they feel like they’re not valued, if they feel like there’s no growth there, they will leave and they will find something better,” said Olds.