In my previous blog post, we learned that COVID-19, population shifts, and economic pressures had caused a change in what people want in life. Whether baby boomer, Gen X, millennial, or Gen Z, there’s been a fundamental change in how Americans view work-life balance. This change helps us understand why it’s difficult to find quality employees. We concluded that people today are not looking for just a job. They are looking for a purpose. And our industry is where people can find that purpose.
This change in attitude toward employment does not mean Americans are looking to “save the world” to give their life a purpose. It means they’re looking to belong and be a part of something bigger than themself. They want to be appreciated for their contribution. This “purpose” is the key to finding a quality employee.
Helping Quality Employees Find You
One way to find quality employees is by promoting your company to prospective employees. I know companies that have been approached by quality prospective employees due to the company’s reputation. Through a company’s online and offline marketing efforts, a prospect can determine the quality of the senior and the frontline staff and then decide to reach out and ask if the company is hiring.
Regular blog posts on LinkedIn by the senior staff will demonstrate thought leadership to a prospective employee. It’s inspiring when a company leader shows expertise and passion for their industry. When a company’s leaders are eager to share their knowledge with others, it sends a positive message to potential employees. Blog posts discussing the company’s efforts toward sustainability or a post about new technology demonstrate a company’s efforts to innovate. LinkedIn and other social media sites should also promote your company’s accolades.
Has your company posted images or videos of your wins at the Print Excellence competition? Do you show off your award statues on social media? Are there pictures of your employees at the event cheering and excited about the win?
Are your lunch meetings promoted online? I’ve seen images of an In-n-Out truck at a member company’s work site. I’ve also seen online videos of company picnics. Many member companies have monthly themed luncheons that are promoted through social media. Imagine a motivated employee stuck in a dead-end job scrolling through their Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn feed and coming across images and videos of employees having a good time at work. Posts like this are advertisements for a company looking for a quality employee.
Where to Look for a Quality Employee
Your current employees are a great place to start a search for a new employee. Often your employees have family members or friends looking for a job or who are fed up with the job they have. Sometimes an employee knows someone working two part-time jobs but would rather have one solid, well-paying career with a chance of advancement.
Passionate employees can also become “brand ambassadors” for your company. Prospective employees are more likely to listen to someone currently working for a company than an ad promoting job. Employers can provide opportunities for employees to represent the company at various events and earn special rewards. For example, does your company sponsor a local little league or school sports team? Sponsorship of local youth programs helps support young people and shows parents and relatives of the children that your company cares about people. You never know when someone is looking for a career change.
When creating an employee referral program, rewards should be part of the program. A reward can range from a gift card to a popular lunch spot to a small bonus.
Local colleges and universities are also great places to find potential employees. Go beyond just advertising open job positions at local schools. These institutions have special career centers where students seek a career path. This will take some effort on your part. As we all know, the printing industry is not seen as an industry with great jobs and career advancement. Developing a relationship with the department head of the career center can go a long way to finding quality employees. The director of the department may have various names, but their main job is to provide career advice to students. If you educate the director, they will educate the students.
In addition to career centers, attend campus career fairs and offer to speak about your company in relevant classes or club meetings. This may be an opportunity for your employee “brand ambassadors” to promote your company.
It is important to understand that while most colleges and universities do not have a printing program, many schools have strong business, fine art, or marketing programs with students looking to find a focus for their skills.
Understanding Changes in the Interview Process
In today’s employment environment, you’re not just interviewing a potential employee; they’re interviewing you. A quality potential employee has prepared an updated resume, practiced how to respond to open-ended questions, and is dressed for the job they want. What have you done to prepare your company for the interview?
When preparing your company for an interview, consider why a person would leave a current job to work for you. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that people choose to leave a company because of low pay, no opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected. So, attracting a quality employee will take more than money. In fact, according to the survey, pay is only part of the equation.
During the interview, make the path to advancement clear to the prospect. Will the path require training or education? Will the company pay or help pay for any advanced education? What is the time frame for advancement? Will a sales rep in a different field receive training to sell in the printing industry? Can a CSR move into a sales position? Can a shipping and receiving clerk get training to work in a press operator position? Answers to these questions will show the prospective employee that your company provides career advancement, not just a job.
Finding Entry-Level Employees
I’m sure many of you have heard of Dave Ramsey, the personal financial advisor, radio show host, author, and businessman. Dave tells a story about giving back. In his story, he challenges people to make a difference in a person’s life. He encourages his listeners who have completed his “7 Baby Steps” to go to a Waffle House on Thanksgiving Day, walk in and have a cup of coffee. Then, before they leave, Dave tells them to put three one-hundred-dollar bills under the cup and walk out. He explains that the act of giving will do as much for the giver as the receiver.
What struck me most when I heard Dave’s story was his use of the Waffle House. While this restaurant doesn’t have a single storefront on the West Coast, I know hundreds of places like it here in the west. In his story, when Dave talks about the Waffle House, he says, “Do you know who works at a Waffle House? Somebody who needs a job. Do you know who’s working at a Waffle House on Thanksgiving? Someone who really needs a job!” When I heard those words, I started thinking, and my thinking turned to research.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, in June 2022, about 158.11 million people were employed in the United States. Of those, 132.65 million were employed on a full-time basis. That leaves about 25 million people working part-time. That part-time number has remained relatively unchanged for the past year. Of the total number of employed people, 7.5 million are multiple job holders. Those numbers have been trending upward during the past twenty years. Why these 25+ million people work part-time varies. Still, I think many of them would be happy to have a stable, well-paying job, with benefits, like the employment opportunities offered by our association’s members.
Think about the last time you visited a restaurant, coffee shop, or fast-food establishment. You probably left a tip for the service you received. I know there have been times I was genuinely impressed by a conscientious server. An attentive, hard-working individual working at a restaurant will no doubt work just as hard in a printing company with the proper training. A conscientious barista may be your next customer service representative. A hard-working delivery driver could be your next shipping and receiving clerk. Ever been impressed by a dependable ride-share driver? What about a helpful cashier at a local supermarket? Or a polite employee at a rent-a-car company? What about a hard-working janitor, caretaker, or parking attendant? While some people working in these jobs may be happy working part-time, I’m sure many of them would be glad to have a dependable, financially rewarding career.
The key to recruiting a dependable entry-level employee is the strong possibility for advancement. Remember, people today are looking to belong and be a part of something bigger than themself. They want to be appreciated for their contributions. By providing training and advancement opportunities, your company will demonstrate to potential employees that they have a place to thrive. And your investment in training your workforce will considerably impact your employee retention and productivity rates.
Finding a quality employee requires effort. Of course, you can go the traditional route and use agencies, like the one PIASC offers, to find employees. There are also online job boards that you can use to find an employee, but as the government numbers have shown, many more jobs are available than unemployed individuals. That means you will need to find a creative way to find a quality employee.
I know our industry has the competitive pay, opportunities for advancement, and career satisfaction employees are looking for. By tapping into untraditional recruitment activities, like employee referrals, people looking for a career change, college career centers, and part-timers looking to move into full-time work, companies may be able to find the quality employees they need.