Critical Tips for Beating the Labor Shortage
While some company owners are convinced that “there are no good hires available,” we are seeing others hire superstars. These successful owners are using three powerful strategies:
- Retention of current staff — reducing need to hire
- Streamlining systems and resources — reducing need to hire
- A powerful and effective recruiting and hiring system — so when you do hire, you hire right
Here are some tips on putting these strategies to work for you.
Retaining Your Current Staff
Today’s worker wants a learning environment, a family-friendly environment, teamwork, empowerment, shared decision-making and more democratic management. Losing a talented, experienced employee is expensive, so reducing this churn is essential.
While it may seem that current employees don’t need as much time or energy from you, don’t take them for granted. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Keep them informed about developments in the company. And offer opportunities for training, one of the benefits that employees rank as “most important” when rating a company.
Regularly check in with your key employees to take their temperature about what’s going on with the company. Make sure that they aren’t being overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work. If they are, invest in help. . . whether a temp worker, a support person, or new technology that can cut their load.
Reducing Your Need to Hire by Increasing Efficiency!
Here are several practical ideas that will allow you to streamline the work done by your employees, thereby letting each employee leverage more volume.
- Hold regular brainstorming sessions with your staff to review all procedures that are currently in use within the company. Focus on streamlining. What work, forms, or overlapping procedures can be eliminated from the company? What is missing that could help you avoid time-sucking mistakes?
- Outsource more – both to freelancers for office work or subcontractors for production work. More and more folks are using outsourced CAD pros, take-off specialists, or virtual employees.
- Are there labor saving tools, equipment, technology, or communications that would free up time for you, your office, or field staff? Save an hour here and an hour there and soon you won’t have to hire another person.
- Check with your suppliers for products they will install (i.e. windows, fireplace units, siding) or products that can save you in-house time (pre-primed moldings). Use their labor instead of yours and benefit from the expertise they have in mastering one task.
- Check with subs to see if there are additional functions they can take over from your staff. Have your own carpenters? Keep them but consider subbing large jobs such as decks, siding, insulation, drywall and roofing which can be economical to outsource.
- Are your field personnel equipped with state-of-the-art labor-saving tools and equipment? If you have 10 field employees and can save 20 minutes a day for each, that’s 1000 minutes a week or 867 hours a year. That’s 867 hours you don’t need or 867 hours you can sell profitably to another client. One remodeler keeps a stocked trailer on every job site. It’s good looking and well signed but it also saves time and running for materials. Many others provide iPads or laptops to help production employees to manage their jobs on the fly with software solutions.
- Increase training for your field personnel to save time in installations. Check with your manufacturers, subs and suppliers for help in developing short training sessions.
- Develop a cross-department team to research ways to reduce in-house work.
Still need to Hire?
Write a clear job description that accurately describes the position. This has been called the single best thing you can do to hire well.
Include not only activities to be done but also the underlying traits that are needed to succeed in the job. The Sandler Sales Institute, a national sales training organization, also recommends that every job have a SEARCH description — a list of Skills, Education, Attitude, Results, Cognitive Skills, and Habits needed for the position.
Script open-ended questions that will let you probe for the underlying traits needed to successfully master the position. An open-ended question cannot be answered by just a yes or no.
Plan your hiring procedure/system. How will the applicant apply, who will screen applicants, who will interview, for how long, will there be a formal rating sheet, etc.? What happens if the applicant does not follow instruction. . . such as ignoring the request for a cover letter? Does that automatically disqualify him/her?
Compared to ten years ago, hiring is a much more serious and time consuming task in a business. Be prepared to get very professional about it. On the other hand, you might find that when you learn to hire well and have a good system for doing so, you might enjoy the process.
Round Up Those Elusive Prospects
It’s easier than you think — but only if you think in the right paradigm. Whatever you might have learned about hiring 5 or 10 years ago probably needs to be revised. Finding top recruits for your positions has now become a marketing challenge. There aren’t enough quality employees to go around, so you must have a plan for getting more than your share.
- Recruit all the time. You often know what your next hire will be even if you are not ready to hire yet. Keep your eye out for good prospects at the grocery, the gas station, the suppliers’, or the association dinner meeting. Some remodelers have had excellent results with talking to subs and suppliers and following up with a letter that describes the position he is filling. Use all of your industry connections/network to help you find the right person. Is there a struggling remodeler who would happily fold their business and come to yours — with their personnel? Sweet!
- Watch what your competitors are doing. Follow them on social media, watch for ads they may be running. In fact, with your staff, identify your top 5 competitors and then assign one staff person to each of these companies to learn as much as they can about the benefits being offered, the angle of their ads, the training they are offering, and any salary information. While you don’t want to copy, you can learn from their strategies and take this new knowledge to improve your own tactics. In other words, do what they do. . . but better.
- Post your flier on a bulletin board – your grocer, your veterinarian, your printer, your suppliers.
- Consider holding a well-publicized early evening or early morning Open House if you have a showroom or good looking office. Have employees on hand to talk and do a short interview.
- Hand out materials on the job opening(s) and for the best candidates set longer, more formal interview times.
- Offer employees and subs a referral fee for an employee who stays at least 3 months. If you’re already doing this, up the ante to get more of the right kinds of people.
- Stay attuned to local business happenings. If there are plant closures or layoffs, that might be an opportunity for you to snag some talent. Laid-off workers could be an excellent pool from which to recruit.
- In all written ads/fliers/posters emphasize your company culture, intangible benefits, and behavioral descriptors for the position as well as any technical requirements.
- Brainstorm with your team for unique ideas!
- Advertise for superstar employees on your trucks and on your website.
- Use social media! Post ads, current employee profiles, information on your company, awards won, etc. Consider Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and others to get the word out. For many, it’s been a great place to find quality employees. See one example here.
- Offer Amazing Benefits. It’s a job seekers market and a better-than-average benefits package can turn the right heads. How do your current offerings compare?
- Don’t forget that your best candidate may be a woman, a minority, a veteran or a person from a totally different field who has the right attitude and excellent management skills.
- Lastly, consider ambition over experience. If you find someone with the right eager, optimistic attitude who wants to learn everything there is about being a great construction worker, grab him. You can always train for the skills that are needed, but it’s pretty hard to train for a good attitude.
Lack of production staff can really hamstring a company, but with the strategies above, you’ll be in a fantastic position to find and onboard people with the skills, the attitudes and the experience you want.
What about you?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s get the conversation started!