The Lack of Labor

Well, it ain’t what it used to be. I’ve heard this said about a lot of things, but with labor, it’s 100% true. No matter how long you’re in business for labor will always be your biggest thorn.

To dive into why the labor pool sucks, you have to understand who the labor is. A lot of them are younger people who have spent years going to college with their mindset on one particular type of job. Maybe that job doesn’t exist, or maybe there aren’t any openings, but we tend to be the fallback for them.

Well, us, on the other hand, we’re looking for someone who wants to do manual labor. Someone who WANTS to work outdoors. Someone who is built for an ever-changing work environment. Someone who is tough enough for sun or rain, mosquitoes or wasps, or heck even thorn bushes and ladders. People say they want to work outside, usually when they've never worked outside.

We are two groups that don’t always see eye to eye. We sometimes think just because someone says they want to work outdoors that they truly know what it means to work outside. No add to that places like Amazon who are more than willing to pay somebody $17 an hour to pick stuff off the shelf. How can we compete with that? We just can't. Heck, they are some days that I wouldn't mind getting paid to pull stuff off the shelf and listen to music.

So understanding the problem is one thing, but how do we deal with it. Well, there are a lot of schools of thought on this, but the big thing for me is that I think you should always be hiring...ABH. Always have your nets out to catch the good ones. What we like to do is to accept applications all year round, this way I am able to do interviews and know which ones are worth it before I ever need the employee. Let's face it you will need the employee. People change jobs. Maybe they find the job they have always wanted. Or maybe they go pull stuff off the shelf. But either way, you will need employees eventually.

This may sound weird, but, I always have folders of people that I've done interviews for and I think are a good fit. Even after someone leaves, maybe a month down the road, I’ll call them if I need someone and ask if they're still interested. 4 out of 5 people haven’t found a job yet, or they aren't happy with the one they picked. This is a great way to always have people in your pipeline. Remember, always be hiring. And that means the whole process, not just signing them up.

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The interview and the callback interview, those things that take time and when you’re in the busy season, you don't always have a lot of time. There's nothing more stress relieving in small business then having people up your sleeve when you need them. It's a great feeling I'm telling you!

Now when you do get them what do you do to make them happy? I mean really happy? Out of all my employees I run, 90% + I've been there longer than a year the rest have been longer than 3 years. I can't say that I'm doing something right, but more that the work environment is right. Finding the people, seeing if there are right fit with the other staff, showing absolute appreciation for what they do, these are all things that make employees stay. They make employees love what they do. A lot of companies say they're like a family. but I'd rather be like a group of friends. There are always people in your family that don't get along and I simply don't want that.

There's a couple of things that I love to do to create morale and strengthen our staff.

1) I like to buy meals for the guys. And I don't mean just sometimes, I mean every

Friday. We meet up at a place that we clean windows at, after work. and just hang out. and this sound weird but as every crew ends their day, they will meet down there for a bite to eat.

2) I always keep the fridge stocked with beer (for after-work course) bottled water, soda, snacks, anything I can think of. They have free reign to all of it.

3) we have a ping pong table at the shop that is set up in the open, for any time the guys want to bond over a game. Of course, I'm still the best one at ping-pong. But that's part of the fun for the guys.

Basically to keep employees, make a company culture that you would want to work at. A place that may not feel like work. We can't pay them a million dollars an hour, but we can make them feel like a million bucks.

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