We Have Met The Enemy And It’s Our Employees

Some of you are not going to like this column. I know that. But with all due respect what I am going to say here needs to be said. So, listen up and read this with an open mind.

As I have been talking to company owners the last six months, all of them by the way, all of them, have been saying the same things. This is what I have been hearing:

We can’t get people, they just don’t want to work anymore.

The government is giving them too much money and now they are so spoiled they don’t see the point of working.

We hire people and they stay for a few days and then leave. They are lazy and don’t want to work anymore. 

It’s just not like it was during our generation.

It’s impossible to find good people who want to commit to coming to work.

The government gave them too much money.

There are too many welfare dollars around for people to want to come to work.

Sound familiar? If you see yourself here, if you have said these things yourself, please don’t feel like  I am picking on you. Nope, I am getting this from everyone I talk to.

And it is a problem, a problem that is only going to get worse if we don’t start having a little more respect for the people we are trying to hire.

By the way, that “government paid them too much money” statement? That’s nothing but sheer irony since those saying it were first in line for that PPP money which in most cases was hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Which was just another form of welfare.

When you get right down to it we are all on welfare. All of us in one way or another. Personally, I love my old-man government insurance Medicare. Yes even with my six figure income I too am on welfare.

Okay, now that I have your attention, this is what I want you to think about. Ask yourself:

  1. Is my company a good place to work and why?
  2. Would I like to work here today? Today, not 30 or 40 years ago when some of us started, but today?
  3. Why would I want to work here?

Now ask yourself these questions:

  1. When we hire someone do we show them the future?
  2. Do we show them a career path including where they can be in 3, 5 and 10 years?
  3. Do we give them examples of the important work we are doing here? Examples of where our products are being used to change the world?
  4. Do we indicate the kind of money they can make going forward?
  5. Have we developed full blown orientation plans?
  6. Have we developed fully planned and thoughtful training programs where they not only just learn about their immediate jobs but are shown the bigger picture as well?
  7. Have we developed career plans and put the new hires on a planned career path?
  8. Have we considered that the people we are hiring matter? That they are important, in many cases the breadwinner for their families? Have we even thought about this?
  9. Do we assign each new hire a mentor? Someone to take them under their wing and show them the ropes?

Here is a simple question. Have they been invited to spend some time with you, the owner or president so that you get to know them and they you? Think of the power of that simple act? John Endee the owner of Photocircuits used to meet with every single new hire, no matter what their position., he would spend three consecutive Wednesday afternoons with them telling them his personal story and the story of Photocircuits so that by then end of these sessions they knew what the company was all about. They knew the company’s values and ethics and business strategies and they knew, and this is the really important thing, they knew that they were part of something important and that they were personally an important part of a great company and in a great industry…and that they mattered, they had value and were valued. And Photocircuits at that time had 400 employees.

All I ask is that you think about this. It’s not about money, I know that we can only pay what we can pay, that’s a fact of life of running a business. But just think about that other stuff, those other things. Showing people their future, demonstrating how they are now a part of something important, something that matters, and that yes they indeed matter. Doing these things and doing them with honesty and sincerity will go a long way to solving your employee hiring and retention problems. It’s only common sense.