Lack of Qualified Applicants? Solution #1: Keep Your Good Employees

March 31, 2014 11:55 pm Published by

The news is repetitive and blaring:  employers are complaining about the inability to find qualified applicants for positions that need to be filled.  I have seen three articles in business magazines this week about the issue.  Part of the discussion is about the irony — having 10+ million workers who can’t find work, while employers reporting they can’t find potential employees who meet the needs they have.  (In fairness, there are employers interviewed in the articles saying they aren’t having this problem.)

The issue is both national and local, and across multiple industries and workforces.  Key term to understand: qualified applicants.  As any HR manager can tell you, there are thousands of bozo’s who fill out online applications that either can’t read and understand what the minimum requirements are, don’t care, or think so highly of themselves that even though they only have a GED, they apply for a position requiring a degree in mechanical engineering.

“Qualified” does not just mean educated or trained.  As one employer told me, they can’t fill open spots for welders who will meet all three conditions necessary to work there:  a) they have been trained as a welder;  b) they will show up regularly for work; and c) they can pass a drug test.   As I tell students I speak to on finding a job, employers are essentially looking for someone who will show up, show up regularly & on time, and follow directions.  Pretty low bar.

So what is the deal?  Why can’t employers find competent applicants?  That is the discussion of the hour (economists, business leaders, educators all chime in.)  But let me help those of you who manage, supervise and hire.

Solution #1: Keep the good employees you already have.  We know for certain that staff turnover is one of the highest non-productive costs to employers (non-profits seem slow to understand this fact, however.)  The cost of lost productivity, damaged customer relationships, finding replacements, training new employees, and the impact on others in the organization is huge.

AND we know that one of the most influential factors for employees choosing to stay or leave their current employer is how much they feel valued and appreciated by those with whom they work (both supervisors and colleagues).  Research has shown that 79% of staff who leave voluntarily cite a lack of appreciation for what they do as a key reason for them resigning.

So stop the revolving door through which many have exited.  You know the position or areas where people seem to flow through like the wind.  Analyze the situation.  Figure out what is wrong — why do people leave? Possible reasons:  lack of sufficient training given, unrealistic expectations for the position, a bad supervisor (hint, hint.)

And then support, encourage and show appreciation to those who work in, around and with those positions.  If you don’t know how to start, see The 10 Top Easiest Ways to Show Appreciation to Almost Anyone .  Or watch the video, Why Employees Don’t Want to Be Appreciated Just for What They Do .

While keeping your current employees won’t immediately solve the challenge of finding good replacements, learning how to communicate authentic appreciation to your team members can reduce the problem over time. (Soon to follow: Solutions #2 & #3).


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March 31, 2014 11:55 pm


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