Labor Shortage

Forget China

We Still Have a Major Labor Shortage.

Since my last blog on this topic, the unemployment rate has gone down and the net job openings have gone up.  This is not a tactical problem.  This is strategic.  The concept of retaining your best employees is not a new one.  But, the new wrinkle of unprecedented levels of full employment puts sellers in control. 

Sports remains a decent metaphor and, I believe, a signal of what is to come when there are simply not enough great people to do great work.  We are in a free agency market.  Talent moves unencumbered from one opportunity to the next.  What used to be called “job hoppers” are now just free agent athletes seeking the best return for their talent.

Companies are projects. As long as they remain interesting to the employees, the employees will stay.  In fact, interesting is better than money.  How many times have we all stayed at a job or taken a job because it was more interesting?  Plenty. By the way, money is only a motivator before it is given.

So.  What do we do?

Many of you are doing a lot. Employment branding.  Employee Engagement.  Better Benefits.  Compensation Models.  Etc. Etc.

What we are learning is that the company has to be true to itself.  A terrific “employment brand” is ruined with one bad Glassdoor rating. Everyone understands that Glassdoor is a vehicle for post termination payback.  But, if there is enough data in the sample, then the conclusion matters. Employees want to work for a company that people want to work for.  

So, the real lesson learned is that from the CEO on down, the people have to be believable and trustworthy.  The business has to make sense.  If the business makes sense, then the rest is on management.  If management is not good, and even if the business model is good, people will still leave.

Before you embark on an Employment Branding exercise, first reflect on the business itself.  Is it the kind of business that people want to do for a living?  If not, you better think about re-engineering the company.  If it actually is a business people want to work for, and they still are not knocking down your door, then look in the mirror.   

Leadership skills will become much more important than ever in this new world order.   I want to work for someone I believe in.  If the idea is also good, then even better.  But, a great idea with a bad leader is doomed. A decent idea with a great leader will flourish.

Most business are decent. They solve a problem.  They can be made into a destination employment environment with some tweaks.  It starts with good data.   

Good decisions come from good data so maybe we should start there.  What’s your employee data telling you?