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Can't Find Good People? It Might be You.

By Don Harkey, co-founder and chief operating officer of People Centric Consulting Group

Jul 11 2017 at 5:33 a.m.

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It is undeniable that we are currently in a workforce shortage. Builders are having trouble finding electricians and plumbers. Construction companies are struggling to find skilled and reliable labor. We continuously hear company leaders say one of their top concerns is finding talent for their team.  

There is a secret that some business owners may not want you to know. Not everyone is struggling to find reliable and talented people for their companies. 

Unemployment is very low right now, leaving us with a limited pool of workers. However, the real pool of potential workers is larger than it has been in a long time. How can that be?

In 2012, only 16 percent of the current workforce felt like it was “a good time” to find a new job. In 2016, that number rose to 42 percent. Gallup says that 51 percent of the current workforce is actively looking for a new job. More than half of all people who are currently working are thinking seriously about leaving their current job. This means that your workforce pool is not only 4 percent of unemployed workers, but half of the best workers from your competitors.

People are also finding it easier to investigate what it would be like to work for any given company. Gallup’s 2016 Study of the American Workforce showed that 77 percent of the workforce will look at your website before applying for a job, and 72 percent will talk to a member of your team to find out what it is like to work within your company.

Business owners have mixed feelings about this. Some are scared by these statistics. They look at their existing key workers and fear the possibility of losing them to their competition. The idea that half of their own people could be thinking about leaving them terrifies them.

Other business owners are excited about this. They look at the skilled labor that exists and wonder how they could attract them to their company.

Regardless of which of these two types of people you are, what can you do to attract talent rather than lose it?

The key to attracting talent to your business is to make your company a great place to work. This is something you cannot fake. Your website will make an impression. Your people will tell stories and share facts and insights of what it is actually like to work in your company. Gallup calls this concept the Employer Value Proposition—what do you offer your employees?

A lot of employers mistakenly focus on tangible rewards and benefits as the key to attracting and retaining talent, but research shows us that there are other, more powerful factors. Sure, your talent can be pulled away for more money even if they love working for you, but many employees jump jobs for other reasons such as the opportunity to learn more about their career or industry, the chance to join a healthier culture, or most commonly, the ability to work for a better supervisor.

This is a hard truth for many business owners. It is easier to complain about a lack of talent, lack of work ethic from the current generation or the declining workforce numbers. I have sat in workforce seminars where people talk about training fifth graders in soft skills hoping to create a better next-generation of workers. I am all for preparing future leaders, but this seems like a slow play to me.  

I think a better perspective for business owners is to look at the current market as an opportunity. If you can create a culture in which people want to work hard, enjoy their work and be proud of the results of their work, you can attract the best talent from other companies. Here are some quick tips on ways to improve your work environment.