By: Sid Chadwick
“We could use another 18 employees… right now….and our HR Department doesn’t know what to do…or where to begin”……………COO, Multi-Plant Operation
Our Plant Manager’s Peer Group Meeting involved attendees from a range of organizations --- two with well over two hundred employees…..to less than 20.
Yet, their immediate challenges re. Production, fueled by successful/unsuccessful employee Recruitment…and Retention --- were incredibly similar.
On a related note, all the organizations in this Plant Manager’s Peer Group --- no exceptions --- appeared limited in their immediate growth, by successful/ unsuccessful employee recruitment…and retention.
And not unlike sales growth challenges, there was this element of slow, sporadic, successful recruitment of desperately needed employees on the front-end, while out the back door --- the drip, drip loss of valuable talent, seemed unstoppable.
Three-Days of Candid Discussions and Follow-up Action Steps included:
- Do your employees know the economic value of Employee Benefits your company is providing? For example, Social Security, Life Insurance, Disability, Unemployment, Medical and Dental Insurance, 401-K, Counseling, and Retirement Plans. (Only one company provided that information to their employees --- once a year! Yet, every Plant manager seemed to know the approximate monetary value being provided in Employee Benefits. And every Plant Manager believed “Quarterly Employee Benefit Statements” --- would be helpful for retaining, even recruiting valuable employees.)
- Were individual career discussions occurring, guided by senior management --- every six-to-twelve months, that outlined position openings that were expected, including plans for near-term and long-term company reinvestment and growth? (Only one company was conducting those type discussions, once a year. There was an open discussion that too often a talented, ambitious employee needed to leave, and go work for another company --- sometimes in a different industry --- to capture advancement opportunities. In most of the organizations, management understood the ambitions – of only a few, and then sometimes --- put-off engaging those issues, until it was too late --- the employee was gone. )
- Do you financially support ongoing education and training --- for employees who are interested? (Too often, that benefit was selective, limited, and not promoted.)
- Does your company recruit at local high schools, community colleges, and job fares? (Only one company recruited at local schools. Interestingly, they also recruited through “Plant Tours” --- that was successful. Operating print equipment, producing, taking a visitor from finished product --- forward --- all the way to electronic files, seemed to fascinate young adults, often.)
- How many attending organizations offered “Recruiting Bonuses” for employee referrals --- that lead to new, productive employees that were still with the company --- six months or more after referral? (Only two attending organizations offered Recruiting Bonuses.)
- How many attending organizations conducted “Written Performance Reviews” --- that were considered effective? (Only two organizations attending conducted written Performance Reviews, once a year --- not every six months. And neither of those two organizations’ Plant Managers considered their Performance Review systems --- effective. Performance Reviews were conducted --- as required by HR, and not for purposes of developing employee/supervisor’s working relationships, developing the employee, and for improved company performance.)
- Some HR Managers are administrators. A few --- are leaders. (Most organizations today have leaders in their ranks, though they may not be in the correct positions, yet. Make a few phone calls, asking probing questions about what is working for others. Create a plan --- from what others are doing, successfully. Get everyone involved. Print demand is quietly growing, as many organizations have opportunities to grow--- even with a softening economy. Remember, “Speed of Response” --- tends to win…! And….continue to hope that your competitors keep reading national news headlines….about a softening economy.)
Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon --- of a broad design (e.g., car dealerships with over 80 days inventories, slowing home sales, family farms entering bankruptcy, lengthening aging A/R, a waking Fed --- declaring “no more interest rate raises this year”…) --- drifting toward us….foretelling a slowing world and U.S. economy, not expected to reverse soon.
We’ve all faced surprising turns in our economic fortunes…and we’re still here...!
There’s little excuse for recruitment to not be successful if we have committed leadership, open to what others are doing differently, successfully.
Our great industry has a great story to tell, but we must learn to tell it….well….and better.
And in the midst of this fast-changing scene, great companies are recognizing --- that Print --- is the one constant --- that elevates results --- for almost all cross-media promotions, and especially for --- “Business to Consumer”.
“How you gather, manage, and use information….will determine whether you win or lose.”……..Harvard Business Review, March/April, 2019 p. 51.