Business owners often complain that they just can’t find good, reliable help. Unemployment rates are down and good people are getting harder to find. This problem is compounded by new hires not sticking around for long, even when it seems like they might be a good fit.
On the flip side, I hear jobless individuals complaining about how hard it is to find work.
Why is there such a dichotomy between what employers and employees are saying? Is finding the right employee/employer combination so challenging that it’s a rarity for anyone to be happy with the result?
I believe the responsibility for these perceptions lies with both entities.
The fact is that employers want more from their employees than ever before. “Costs and competition are putting incredible pressure on me and on the bottom line,” say the business owners. “I absolutely need high quality employees who can deliver for our customers. Is that too much to ask?”
And employees, in turn, want more from their employers. “I want an enjoyable work environment, health insurance benefits, and a purpose to my work,” they say. “Is that too much to ask?”
Rarely do we get what we want simply because we want it; such a luxury is typically afforded only to the world’s most powerful people and undisciplined children. But getting what we want from an employee or an employer requires communication and compromise.
My advice to employers is to create a work environment that attracts employees to your organization. With a great work environment, you can pick the best of the applicants because the best people will want to work for you as you become known for your fairness.
Consider the following:
Recently, a family friend was hired by a local company that provides point-of sale support for large multi-national organizations in the oil and gas sector. She started working there in December of 2014.
Life can sometimes throw us a curveball. After only one month at her job, she received a call that her father had had a stroke and was in the hospital in Florida. She rushed to his side. After a difficult week that included additional strokes, surgery, and a brain dead diagnosis, she made the painful decision to invoke the “DNR” order that mercifully ended her father’s suffering. Following this traumatic time, she needed to arrange for a funeral and sort through his possessions all while trying to sort things out over 1,000 miles away from home.
She was finally able to return home and to her job two weeks after receiving the initial call. She had been in touch with her employer throughout the process, but was anxious to speak to Human Resources about the ramifications of her missing two weeks after only a month of employment. They offered condolences and then told her that they would NOT be assessing her absence against any of her vacation time; all of the time she missed would be allocated to personal and bereavement days.
She was shocked, overjoyed, and grateful. Her employer recognized her as a valuable employee who had gone through a traumatic event and didn’t penalize her for things beyond her control. With this simple action, they created a loyal, devoted employee who appreciates her work environment, her boss, her company, and her job. They created “good, reliable” help. Both employer and employee are happy.
But there’s more. My friend has a sister, and they shared in this entire painful experience together. Her sister works for a national moving company. Her company re-arranged their schedule so that they could pick up the father’s possessions and bring them back home for the girls – at no cost. Again, an employer looking to do what they can for their valued employee created loyalty and appreciation.
So were these girls just lucky to find great employers? I don’t think it’s as simple as that. Both girls demonstrated their value to the company in the quality of their work and were rewarded with the same level of commitment by the employer. It’s a two way street. It’s a feedback loop. Whoever you are, you have the power to start this ball rolling in your professional situation. If you do, both the employee and the employer gain from the relationship.
This also goes to show that providing a great work environment doesn’t need to mean having a beautiful, modern building, three hour long breaks, or only young, hip employees. People just want to be treated like people. They want to be seen and known and valued.
Another point here is that throwing money at the problem won’t solve anything, either. Surveys have long shown that the most important factor in an employee’s satisfaction isn’t money. As a matter of fact, monetary gain typically ranks 3rd or 4th on the list of what is most important. Employees want to feel appreciated. They want to know that what they do is important and meaningful.
Employers who create an environment of mutual respect and appreciation for committed employees will be rewarded with the very best people staffing the desks of their office, caring for their customers, and working together to improve the bottom line.