Do you follow the Field of Dreams method of workforce development? If you post it, they will come….
At the risk of being too blunt: keep dreaming! We are no longer in a position where there are more qualified candidates than open jobs, at least not in the labor shortage-stricken home industry. We no longer have the luxury of a “why should we hire you?” mindset. Doing what we’ve done in the past – including dreaming and hoping – is not enough to win the war for talent in 2022 and beyond.
What is enough?
Fighting a Multifront War for Talent
If it seems like the labor crunch is putting an even tighter squeeze on your company, you’re not wrong. The construction industry, for example, will need to hire on 650,000 additional workers on top of normal hiring activities to meet demand. We’re not going to inundate you with statistics (you are not only well aware of them – you’re living with them) – but we do need to highlight why it is so important to take a multifaceted approach to winning the war for talent. There is no one cause but rather a “perfect storm” that’s been brewing for years. Factors include:
- The graying of the workforce. As more Baby Boomers retire, fewer younger workers are stepping up to take their place.
- The pandemic. In 2020 alone, the construction industry lost almost a quarter of a million jobs as shut-downs went into effect. Not everyone came back to work.
- Disappearing shop classes. Fewer schools are teaching the trades – or even promoting them as a viable career option for high school students.
- Sharp demand. The pandemic caused a shift towards the desire for larger houses, home improvements, and remodels, fueling demand for increasingly scarce labor.
- High turnover. Virtually every industry is dealing with high turnover in today’s climate, but again, the home industry has been harder hit. The average turnover rate is about 21.4% – and it shoots up to about 64% for employees 24 and younger. We know we said we wouldn’t inundate you with stats – so we’ll wrap this up.
The problem is multifaceted. The solution needs to be just as dynamic.
3 Steps to Win the War for Talent
Calling it a “war” may feel extreme – unless you find yourself in the trenches, scrambling to find qualified trades- and craftspeople to meet project demands. To start winning battles:
1. Focus on Retention
In discussions about winning the war for talent, the focus is typically on attracting and hiring new employees. But what about the folks already on the job.
Retaining employees is far more cost effective than hiring new ones (though you’ll likely have to do both!). If you can keep your valued team members at work, you are one battle closer to victory. According to an SHRM report, Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity Are Open, employees narrow in on these as leading contributors to job satisfaction:
- Respectful treatment of all employees – at all levels
- Compensation/pay (more on this in a moment)
- Trust between management and employees
- Job stability and security
- Opportunities to use their skills and talents at work
Again, your company culture plays a big role here; creating an environment that prioritizes respect, communication, and trust is key. To this list, we will add advancement opportunities. Even if it is a misconception, many people believe that jobs in the home industry are not “careers” – they are dead-ends. This could not be further from the truth. By highlighting opportunities to learn, grow, develop, and advance, you can attract and retain the best and brightest.
Another weapon in your arsenal when it comes to employee retention is… the exit interview. Really.
As Chris Czarnik writes in Winning the War for Talent: Recruit, Retain, and Develop the Talent Your Business Needs to Survive and Thrive, “Conduct exit interviews with valued employees thirty days after they leave your organization to get their advice and the truth about your company. In my experience, 20 percent of people who leave want to come back but don’t know how. This is their bridge back to your company.”
If you encourage honesty, you can uncover invaluable feedback to improve your talent-related processes. And you may be able to keep those people who didn’t really want to leave in the first place but felt compelled to for whatever reason. This is your chance to find out what that reason or reasons are – and make substantive change.
2. Build Your Brand
We are doers. Makers. Creators. When we see a problem, we fix it. When it comes to finding talent, though, we need to take a step back to go forward. Work on solidifying your brand. Think about it like this: you market to prospective clients to win business. You need to do the same when it comes to employees. Remember, it’s not us asking, “why should we hire you?” – it’s the candidate wondering, “why should I work for you?”
Your brand and company culture will be a big factor in their decision, and it is essential that you establish yourself as an employer of choice. A few steps you can take now:
- Emphasize your safety processes, procedures, and training. Show that you care about worker safety, first and foremost. By extension, you’ll demonstrate how much you value employees.
- Prioritize communication. Seek feedback… and utilize it.
- Shift to a worker-first mentality. If you can flex to meet workers’ needs more seamlessly, they will show their appreciation – by staying and/or applying! For example, if you can offer options like part-time hours, telecommuting, compressed workweeks, etc…. Well, why not?
3. Ramp Up Your Compensation Efforts
We have to address the elephant in the room: pay. The reality is that winning the war for talent isn’t cheap. You’re going to have to step up compensation to attract and retain the workers you need. Sign-on bonuses are common these days (and retention bonuses should be too). This includes benefits, such as medical, dental, retirement paid time off, etc.. This is undoubtedly a great expense for your company; the bottom line is that it is one that you can’t afford not to invest in.
That said, other perks play a role in attracting and retaining employees. As mentioned, flexibility is imperative in today’s workforce. Can you accommodate someone’s need to work remotely, at least some of the time? Can you offer a four-day week? Can you work with a student who wants to train and go to school? Can you reach out to schools to create or participate in internship or apprenticeship programs?
Yes. You can.
Just the Beginning
Winning the war for talent requires taking these steps – and others. From reaching out to underrepresented populations (women, minorities, people with college degrees who are dissatisfied in their careers, etc.) and partnering with schools to tap into student talent to revamping your hiring and onboarding processes and connecting with peers in the industry to develop mutually-beneficial strategies, we need to be on the frontlines, proactively working to emphasize the benefits, the opportunities, and the potential of careers in the home industry.
Join Your Peers
There isn’t a quick fix to the labor shortage. But that’s not what we’re about: we build to last. Creating dynamic solutions that are both effective and sustainable is the way to win – and we can do it together.
Stop dreaming; start planning. Find out how Home Artisans of Indiana can help you grow not only your company but our entire home business community at https://homeartisans.com/.