In Hiring, Make it Count
- Steve Williamson, Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, July 4, 2022
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Tags: #hiring #pandemic #recruiting
The Covid pandemic was challenging. It still is — infection rates are rising and people are still dying. The impacts of lock downs, disruptions to supply chains, and in the context of this article, hiring and retention problems plague every sector of the economy.
Whether you are an employer wanting to keep your operation fully staffed or an individual out there looking for work, make it count.
The Employment Equation
For many, the current employment situation is unfamiliar territory. The unemployment rate is at record lows and businesses are scrambling to bring on new team members to meet market demands while struggling to keep existing staff on board.
Workers have discovered they currently hold the better hand at the hiring poker table.
For workers, having the power-up bargaining position feels like a rare occurrence. Those who remember the Great Recession of 2008-'09 can recall what it's like to be on the other side of the employment negotiation. Some people are using the situation to their advantage by switching jobs and demanding what they feel are long overdue pay raises in the deal. Contrary to some alarmist (and incorrect) news reports from certain segments of the political spectrum, people still want to work and are willing to work hard, they're just being a bit more picky about who they work for.
Workers have learned they can be selective about where they work. Employers have suddenly found themselves swimming against the current.
Businesses that have already been treating their employees fairly and paying them market wages have had a better time maintaining retention.
Companies that pay minimum wage have seen employees quitting without notice and hearing nothing but crickets on the job boards and in response to their want ads. The current yet misguided attitude of some business leaders is that everyone suddenly got lazy and are refusing to work.
One theory posited that 'free money' from the government in the form of pandemic relief checks and enhanced unemployment benefits were disincentivizing people to work. They think it enabled laziness and exposed a generation-wide lack of work ethic.
This theory has been proven false time and time again as states rolled back unemployment benefits yet their labor market failed to produce a rush of workers scrambling back to shift-work at $7.25 an hour, desperate to pay their rent.
The reality is a bit more complicated and nuanced. Workers have developed a sense of perspective. Through the trials and tribulations of a global pandemic and lock-down, they had an epiphany.
Employment is a Relationship
Employment, like any relationship, is two-sided. Employers need workers to provide the means of production, while workers need wages to pay their bills. Prior to the Covid lock-down of 2020, there was an implicit assumption that workers were the ones asking and employers were the ones granting. The relationship had its ebbs and flows, but it remained inherently one-sided.
Existing workers began to quit jobs where they felt company leadership didn't treat them as a valued part of the relationship. They saw their wages stagnating while corporate profits and C-suite compensation reached record levels. It's as if the curtain was pulled back and the disparity in the relationship became glaringly obvious.
In companies where the employer-employee relationship is fair and equitable, the hiring crisis hasn't been as disruptive.
For job candidates, they seem to have the pick of the litter right now. This lop-sided —corrected? — negotiating position won't last forever, so many are taking advantage of the situation to switch to better jobs while they can.
For employers, the situation is a bit different. Struggling companies should make two strategic moves. The first takes courage but is straightforward to implement. The second is counterintuitive and even operationally fatal if the first strategy isn't followed.
1. Become Desirable
To start, any organization that has struggled with turnover should take a hard, honest look within and ask why. Let go of any false notions that an entire generation of workers has suddenly and inexplicably decided to embrace laziness and forgo any sense of work ethic. It's not true.
People of every age group are working, they just don't want to work for you.
Look within. Are people quitting certain departments or locations? If so, look at those area leaders. They may be creating toxic work environments. That toxic culture may even come from the top. Be willing to ask yourself that question — it may not be the case, but have the courage to find out.
Are you paying current market wages? If it's the federal minimum, that's what you'll get — the minimum. You're behind the game and will continue to struggle, guaranteed. Raise your pay or accept the fact that you won't be able to draw anyone but the most desperate (and potentially unqualified) workers.
It takes courage for business leaders to take such an honest look at their own policies and practices and ask, "Am I the problem?"
Leadership requires courage in many forms, and if you've gotten this far, you've no doubt had to make some tough decisions and do things that made you feel scared or uncomfortable. This is one that will determine your long-term success — or even your short-term survival.
2. Be Choosy
The second part of the solution involves being choosy about who you hire. If you are struggling to keep people on board, or scrambling to get new hires to replace departed workers, this will seem like the last thing you'd ever want to try.
If you haven't followed the advice in step one by taking a hard look and changing the fundamental reasons why people don't want to work for you, this step will destroy your company.
However, if you have taken the necessary steps to make your organization desirable to workers, then being choosy about who you hire makes total sense.
Employment is a relationship of equals between company and worker. Both need each other.
People spend a great deal of their lives at work, and companies invest a lot of time and money building and fostering a productive team of people hopefully dedicated to their part of the organization's mission.
Shouldn't both employer and employee exercise a bit of due diligence when choosing who to hire and who to work for?
This attitude of being choosy applies to both companies and candidates. Business leaders should take the steps to flesh out the needs of each role, including the ultra-important step of a psychometric evaluation of what the role requires in a worker.
Each candidate should be screened using the same psychometric assessment tool to find the best innate fit between their personality and the needs of the role. Once that alignment has been determined, the traditional hiring process of resumes and interviews is utilized and a fair and market-current job offer is made.
The candidate and hiring team meet to determine if an appropriate fit exists. Not only find out if the candidate has the skills and experience needed to do the job, but will they and the employer share the same vision about the mission?
Both sides should treat the other as equally valuable as they decide on a go- or no-go on the employment relationship. In hiring, both sides should make it count.
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in information technology, software development, and project management spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing he is an aspiring multi-instrumentalist and composer, a virtual pilot in a home-built flight simulator, and a cyclist.
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