Where Are the Applicants?


By Phil Harwood

With the spring hiring season upon us, many employers are discovering that nobody is applying to fill their open positions. What was a serious problem in previous years has become an existential crisis this year. If there are no workers, there is no business. This is more than serious. This is about survival. 

If this is true, I would simply ask what you’re doing about it. If this problem is so serious that the future of your business is at stake, why wouldn’t you be doing everything in your power to address this crisis? I hear a lot of talk but not much action. 

I recall a time when hiring someone was as easy as grabbing the giant folder of paper applications and making a few phone calls or just hiring one of the many applicants who walked in the door every day. Recruiting was unnecessary and retention was not a major concern. All of that has changed. 

To be successful today, businesses must have ongoing, year-round recruitment and retention strategies in place. This requires a serious commitment from the top of the organization to provide sufficient resources. Ongoing, year-round recruitment and retention strategies come at a cost. But they also provide great benefits in terms of higher quality, fewer injuries, less damage to equipment, higher productivity, and higher profit.

Where to start is an often-asked question. My advice is to start with your own people. Sit down with groups of your people, including front-line staff. Some of you have never done this before. Sure, you’ve had a 20-minute huddle standing in your shop. I’m talking about a half-day or full-day serious discussion and brainstorming session in a conference room. 

Help your people understand the crisis at hand. They may be aware of it somewhat but not to the extent that they need to. Too often there is an “it’s not my problem” attitude running through the ranks. If that’s the case, step one is to begin to change that attitude because it not only will affect your ability to recruit, it will also damage retention. They need to realize that this situation is their problem too and that is why you’ve asked for their assistance. 

Ask for their ideas. The best ideas don’t always come from the top of the organization. Anyone can have a great idea but they aren’t going to share that great idea unless they are asked or given a platform. Many successful companies have incentive programs for successful ideas that are adopted. I think that’s really cool but also one more thing to administer. Don’t go there unless you can administer the incentive program properly. If your people care at all, they will have ideas to share. If nobody has any ideas, you have a bigger problem on your hands. 

Empower them to participate. Get everyone involved, even if it means losing production for part of a day, every so often. Is losing production really your biggest issue? Doesn’t that happen every time it rains? I thought so. Every single person in your company should be a recruiter and be doing something to improve retention. If this is truly a crisis, why wouldn’t they? 

Enough talk. Time for action. If you’re really serious, check out our New Hire On-Boarding course at GrowTheBench.com. This course is available as part of the all-access subscription or as a stand-alone course at a very affordable price. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: hiring , Retention , Employees ,