“Hey Brad. Do you know any good people who want to work?”
I laughed, and said “Yes, but I’m already working.”
My friend, a retail florist, is desperate to find a good employee who is self-motivated and competent, and she is willing to pay over market price for their time and talent. Yet, she has no takers and therefore she has had to stop taking wedding business because her everyday business would suffer. Finding people to fill positions in the workforce today is a task that often makes the cleaning of the Augean Stables look easy.
Weekly I receive calls or have conversations with a customer, supplier, wholesaler, retailer, and networking groups all asking for help in finding qualified people to fill their empty positions.
I have listened to many of the reasons given why so few people are applying for work. The government handouts are making it easy to stay home, the fear of catching the Wuhan virus, or not wanting to do a certain type of work. Yet that does not solve the issue of finding qualified workers for employers. What’s a business owner to do?
I posed the question to my Mastermind group, a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who study and practice the science of success. Sure enough, golden nuggets of wisdom came pouring out. Here are some ideas that were discussed.
First, we agreed that good employees often attract other good employees; the “birds of a feather flock together” idea. Good workers undoubtedly know others in their sphere of influence that might be attracted to working in a similar environment. Working for companies whose management values and rewards pride in work and recognizes employees for their accomplishments often attract employees more so than money.
Do not underestimate the power of hiring happy people. I once had an acquaintance many years ago ask me about finding an employee prior to the “Dotcom Burst”. She told me the people she would hire had the right skills, yet they had a bad or negative disposition and would cause work-place issues or would quit once they were trained. My suggestion to her was to “hire happy”. In other words, hire someone who is enthusiastic, friendly, and is pleasant to be around for your internal and external customers. You can teach skills, you can’t teach happy. The “bad apple in a barrel” idea.
Good employees welcome the opportunity to talk and even brag about their jobs if they enjoy the work and feel a sense of pride in what they do. Asking permission to record a testimonial on the value of their work and what they like about their business is a good way to get employees to sing a business’ praises and attract others. Testimonials work to attract customers; they will work attracting new hires as well. If an employee is camera shy, suggest a written or recorded testimonial. Post these stories on your company’s social media sites. Micro-target these brag-boasts via e-mail or text to prospective hires.
And on the topic of social media, make sure you have a presence on LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, at the very least. If you are not doing so currently, hire an intern or a young person looking for experience so you both win. If you are not online in today’s marketplace, you do not exist.
Prospects are in the habit of interviewing companies just as much as companies are in interviewing prospective employees. Many workers today are looking for the flexibility of working remotely, especially in sales and if a company is not willing to entertain this, they may be overlooked. Treat prospective employees as an entrepreneur so their talents and special skills are considered as part of the hiring process.
Offering current employees some sort of compensation, such as a finder’s fee or giving additional time off, are ways to incentivize. “Tell-a-Friend” programs can encourage employees to suggest prospects for their employer.
Of course, there are the traditional channels of job placement sites, head-hunters, and social media placements, all of which produce various results. One of the best suggestions I have heard is to constantly be recruiting people who have a great disposition and are service focused so when you have a position available there is a reservoir of names you can pull from. I have a friend who dined out frequently in local restaurants. The friendly servers and the good food would keep him coming back, but a by-product was that he also got to know who these people were and how they approached their customers. One of his employees retired. Without missing a beat, my friend hired one of the restaurant servers because he knew they were service oriented and had a good demeanor. This person went on to be one of his best salespeople.
As a Toastmaster I have learned that public speaking also has a component of public listening. The biggest opportunity in hiring today seems to be more listening and less talking about your company. Asking questions like, “What questions do you have for us?” invites the self-motivated and the curious. “What question should we have asked you?” gets the prospective employee to think on their feet and answer in terms of what is important to them.
Finding a good match for employees and employers today is certainly different from when I started in business 40 years ago, yet something is constant. The relationship. Finding a way to close the gap between what you have to offer as an employer and how the prospective employee perceives your business is perhaps the biggest challenge to today’s businesses.
The story is told of a stable needing cleaning filled with the usual stable substance. A young boy is put to work by a rancher to clean up the stables. The boy enthusiastically takes the shovel and heaves the muck into a wheel barrel. The rancher is amazed and asked the boy why all the enthusiasm? The boy smiles and says, “there must be a pony in there somewhere”. Look for happy employees who are not afraid to pick up a shovel.