Staying Fully Staffed Part V: Onboarding

Improve the onboarding and training process. How much effort does your company put into ensuring that new employees are properly oriented and trained before being put to work? People who do not feel adequately trained do not last. Employees who do not know the inner workings of your company are bound to make mistakes, costing your company money and/or credibility, and costing them confidence and enthusiasm. How fast is your hiring process? Companies that fiddle around too long with a slow hiring and onboarding process are losing workers to their competitors who have a more expedited process.

Does your company have an up to date policy and procedure manual? How can you possibly expect your people to know what to do when you’re not around if you do not have a thorough P&P manual? Having a good policy manual is important for new employees who may not know how to do everything the company way.

Earlier we discussed hiring people who can possibly do part of a role, but not the entire role without additional training. Splitting a role up into its sub-roles is a way to fill open positions, but it takes a little work. This is especially effective for roles that are multi-disciplinary or that perform a variety of related jobs. Let’s look at an example. Web development is a multi-step process that requires skills in coding, writing content, and the artistic skills to put it all together in a way that flows smoothly and is readable and pleasant to the target audience. Good web developers are in high demand right now. Suppose you yourself have the artistic experience, but not the time to do it yourself. You can possibly hire a new college grad who was an English major and is excellent at writing to do the content writing. Then you can combine their efforts with a coder who builds the web site structure and assembles the parts under your guidance. While this may be a simplistic example, you get the idea. Apply this concept to your company.

Mapping out each role within an organization can appear to be a waste of time but it actually pays dividends in the hiring, training, promotion, and retention of employees. What is role mapping? The condensed (and dense) definition is the process of formally combining the job description with specific training requirements, promotion pathways, and pay increases. An excellent example would be found in the military. To become an infantryman requires passing at least two specific courses, basic training and infantry specialty training. The map continues with promotion pathway, giving the soldier the chance to advance “up the food chain”. Each level along the way requires certain accomplishments, such as passing courses, obtaining certain levels on performance evaluations, a scarcity of complaints against the individual, etc. The military unit offers the soldier the opportunity to attend these required training events or courses if they choose to do so. Each level of advancement is also tied to a specified pay increase that is in writing, making it predictable and something to be looked forward to by the soldier. Finally, each level of advancement requires that soldier to perform a combination of more tasks and more skillful tasks. With the promotions come the perks and the responsibilities. A company that has such maps in place and executed fairly for its employees can experience easier training management and higher employee retention.


There they are! Five steps to remaining fully staffed in a tight labor market. It’s up to you to apply these steps in a way that best fits the needs of your company. Here at Simplified Marketing Concepts we are a small business. We know what you’re going through. Feel free to reach out to us for help, sympathy, whatever! We’re all in this exciting adventure together!

Staying Fully Staffed Part IV: Staffing Agencies

Quit relying solely on passive recruiting, such as job boards; put staffing agencies to work. If you’ve not engaged the services of a staff agency you are seriously behind your competition. As Business News Daily points out, staffing agencies offer fast hiring, labor flexibility, and reduced risk for employers. These companies have the resources and systems in place to find you appropriate candidates to interview. You can either pay a flat fee, or better, pay a premium on their hourly wage for a certain period of time (usually measured in months). An agency should screen these applicants for specific skills, amount of experience, training, background checks, initial drug screens, references, reliability, etc.

By using “temps”, or workers hired through the staffing agency, you can see how they perform before you hire them. If you like them, complete the contract with the agency and hire them full time. If they don’t work out, have them replaced. Don’t be surprised if they agency recruiters make suggestions to you regarding hiring criteria or potential personnel who may not have all the required boxes checked on their resume. Good companies know what types of workers will do well in certain roles and work environments. Listen to their advice. A good recruiter will also let you know up front if your pay scale is competitive or not.

Use more than one agency if necessary, but only add agencies one at a time if the prior one is not providing adequate results. The last thing you need to do is start out with 3 agencies a few positions and have too many candidates presented to you. The staffing agencies lose money if their work is not resulting in your company using them enough. Start with one agency and see how they do. If they are not up to the task, seek out another one. Also keep in mind that some agencies specialize in certain types of industries, so find out which one service your industry.

Go out and find people. Have you considered a job fair? A one day job fair, well publicized in advance at an easily identifiable location, can bring many qualified applicants. Advertise via all venues: newspapers, social media (if you have a robust social media presence), signage, unemployment offices, even TV, billboards, and radio if you have the time and budget.

If you are sufficiently computer savvy, check out online discussion forums for specific types of workers. These are web locations where industry-specific workers meet to chat and discuss work conditions, pay training opportunities, and everything else related to their work. Dropping an ad on the right location can be a very effective use of time and resources. As points out, recruiting at these locations means you may have less competition for prospects.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, check out your local employment offices and job training programs. Sometimes a not-for-profit organization fills this niche. Near SMC’s location Goodwill Industries performs an admirable job doing this. Sometimes these programs are a collaborative effort involving local colleges, industries, churches, government agencies, and charitable foundations, such as the Markle Foundation. Look in your area to see what is going on, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Staying Fully Staffed: Get Creative

Part III

Get creative with recruiting. For a very long time it was an employer’s market; and many employer established very high minimum requirements for their open positions. While this may seem like a smart way to screen out all but the “perfect candidates”, it results in many good people with excellent attitudes and aptitude being passed over. Now the shoe is on the other foot; and employers need to prioritize what they require in a candidate walking through the door versus what they can train into a good employee who may not have all of the “boxes checked” regarding their work experience and skills. Ask yourself: “what is vital that I can’t easily teach new employees”? Most employers would agree that a good work ethic, positive attitude, and the ability to treat other people with respect are traits that must be inherent in a person’s composition and cannot be trained into them. Adjust your recruiting methods accordingly. A related tactic is to “re-engineer” the position. Some employers are taking positions that once required numerous sophisticated skills and breaking them down into lesser parts that can be performed by less trained individuals. We will discuss this tactic in more detail in step 5.

As we discussed in step 2, offering your MVP’s (most valued peeps) referral bonuses is a good way to invest them in the success of your business. It is also an excellent way to recruit quality personnel directly who may not normally be scouting your company as a prospective place to work. Talk to them one on one, keep it discreet, and offer them a significant referral bonus for any new employees that they help to recruit and retain over a period of time. Stagger the payments so that they are incentivized to help retain the new employees. The goal with this is that they will refer similarly high quality friends and family members who would become new MVPs.

In this tight labor market you will need to consider non-traditional sources of prospective employees. There are many retirees out there looking for a part time gig to supplement their retirement. Many of these folks have well established work histories that come complete with good work ethics and people skills. As the NY Times points out, they can fill gaps (think: skills) in your labor force that current workers can’t fill.

Another population to look into will be those with criminal histories. Obviously there may be some limitations or pragmatic safety measures that will need to be addressed when first entering this pool of workers. However, many of these folks have learned life lessons the hard way and are looking for a way to get their lives back on track. According to the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) more HR professionals are looking to this work population, and not just because they’re desperate for bodies. Getting the most qualified person for the job is one of the most important factors. What roles can your company offer to this population, possibly with some oversite built into the scenario?

Millennials are the up and coming generation of workers, and they come with some unique issues. They are so unique that we will dedicate an entire blog post at a later date to discuss their values, strengths, and needs. For now, suffice it to say that these young people place purpose over money, and they do not adapt well to an inflexible, regimented work place with cold and distant bosses. They place a premium on quality of life (currently termed “work life balance”) over a big bank account or rapid ladder climbing. Research the needs of Millennials, adapt your business accordingly, and it will pay dividends in the long run.

Have you looked into hiring high school students? You will have to work around their school hours, but many of these young people are willing to work part time jobs while in school.

Another pool of talent is college students. Internships are a highly prized resume and career building experience that your company might be able to offer. Contact your local colleges and investigate. Internships take some up front work to get set up, but once established they can become a regular feature in your company. Be sure to include duties that are important to the student’s academic needs. They offer you a chance to evaluate potential future employees while filling specific roles within your company.

Finally, look at employees from other industries. You may be surprised at how easily workers from another industry can adapt and be taught to succeed in a new line of work. For example; does your critical employee shortage require workers who have 2 years of quality inspection work in a German auto parts manufacturing facility? Or do you really need people who have been trained to focus on attention to detail? Do you see how your potential pool of applicants just became much larger?

How To Stay Fully Staffed In A Tight Labor Market

Part 2 – Training, Benefits, and Referral Bonuses, Oh My!

Deliberately retain your people. In the current economic environment, keeping your business fully staffed is now a significant priority. Since we all know that it is much cheaper to keep existing staff than it is to recruit and train new staff, it only makes financial sense to put a serious effort into retaining your people. Other than increasing wages, which is a good start but not the final word in employee retention, what else can you do? Many workers look for other things than pay when assessing their work situation.

            Training- are you investing in a quality training program that provides your employees with career skills, or even simply better equips them to succeed in their current role in your organization.

             Benefits- this can get expensive in a hurry, so you will need to do some careful research, but start by evaluating the benefits you offer your employees, and then see if there are any gaps that you can fill to make remaining with your organization more attractive. Companies are finding creative benefits to offer their employees that reflect the changing economic and social landscape in which they are competing for workers. According to the New York Times, the restaurant industry in certain regions is resorting to a variety of benefits, including tuition reimbursement and extra training that is both fun and job related.

            Promotion path- we’ve already discussed investing living wages in your “most valued peeps”, now we are talking about offering them a formal promotion with a new title, expanded responsibilities, and the related training to help make then successful in their new role. Obviously this will be limited by the size and scope of your business, but it’s worth a serious look. In the long term it can also help you to delegate some things and maybe improve your quality of life. Win – win!

            Referral bonuses- this subject ties in with recruiting, which we will discuss later, but it also is a retention tactic. Those MPVs we keep discussing can also be your best recruiters (are we beginning to learn just how valuable they are to our businesses?) Talk to them one on one, keep it discreet, and offer them a significant referral bonus for any new employees that they help to recruit and retain over a period of time. Stagger the payments so that they are incentivized to help retain the new employees. By helping with this process they are now invested in your organization.

Consistent / engaged leadership- employees are human beings that have emotional and other, intangible needs. Most people want more from their job than just a paycheck. They want to feel valued; they want to make a positive contribution; they want to be treated fairly; they want there to be no favoritism and their supervisors to be immune to “brown-nosing”. Nothing demoralizes employees faster than for them to work hard, day after day, only to see a “butt-kisser” succeed, get promoted, or receive preferential treatment. Get to know your people, find out what makes them motivated, let them know how valued they really are.

Ways Your Company Can Remain Fully Staffed In A Tight Labor Market

Part I – Increasing Wages

Right now, in the United States, there are more jobs available than there are people out of work. Let that sink in. Every open position in the U.S. has less than one unemployed person waiting to fill it. And that doesn’t mean that each of these 0.9 persons is qualified for one of the open positions. Finally, as if more bad news for employers was necessary, quits (an employee willingly quitting a job) are trending upward as workers look for better situations and better pay.

As the U.S. economy rebounds new jobs are being created every month. While this eventually will translate into an economic benefit for most Americans (wages have stubbornly remained stagnant), employers have begun having difficulty filling open positions. Open positions can hamper a company’s ability to grow, to compete, and to remain at the top of its game.

As a business owner or manager you may be seeing business opportunities sprout during this resurgent economy, but because you have so many open positions you’re not able to capitalize on them. Dealing with this issue is going to take creativity, resolve, and yes, some money. You do want to do what it takes to remain competitive and be positioned to take advantage of business opportunities, right? Well then read on!

First, increase wages- if you haven’t done this yet, what are you waiting for? Americans are quitting jobs at the highest rate in living memory, and the primary reason they are quitting is pay. Increasing wages is a first act, but not the final act, in keeping your people. It should not be done in a broad brush approach, either. Sure, do a little research and compare what your company is paying compared to your competitors, and ensure that your rates are comparable. This basic tactic will help ensure that your company is on an equal footing for the majority of workers. Remember, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.

Take it to the next level, however, by targeting your MVPs (“most valued peeps”) with real financial appreciation. You know which employees we’re talking about: those people who show up to work on time every day with a positive attitude, need little to no supervision, end up being the ones who train new employees, and basically are the core group upon which you rely to keep your business afloat. Ensure that what you’re paying these folks is a “living wage”. What is a living wage? The simplified answer is; can they afford the mortgage for an average home appropriate to their domestic situation in your geographic region? If not, they will be vulnerable to being poached by your competitors. Your MVPs should be able to live a lifestyle free from poverty or financial instability.  You count on them to provide stability for your company, giving them financial stability in return is a sound investment.