To the Point
Help your clients recruit and retain qualified employees
Ask a business owner to name the top risks to his or her business, and many will tell you it’s a severe shortage of quality workers. They just can’t find people with the skills required in a high-tech workplace. Some employers have told me they are turning down work because they can’t meet the demand because of lack of skilled labor. They say many applicants lack necessary soft skills, such as a strong work ethic, positive attitude, communication skills, time management abilities, and problem-solving skills, to name a few.
Few employers can afford to put an unqualified worker in charge of a million-dollar machine, or make plans to expand. This is bad news if we want to see our economy continue to grow.
Why do we have a shortage of qualified workers? The reasons vary.
Parents have steered their children toward college instead of job-skills training. When I attended high school in the early 1970s there were shop classes and a work release program, so students got to experience working with their hands. Now students are pushed immediately to get a four-year (or more) degree, even if they are not cut out for it. Many leave college with mountains of debt and no marketable skill. They would have been better off taking an apprenticeship and learning a skill while going to community college on an employer-paid scholarship. Time to wake up!
As risk advisors, we benefit when we go beyond the insurance sale and make sure our clients and prospects know that we care about helping them solve issues they’re facing …
Retiring Baby Boomers are leaving jobs faster than younger workers can replace them, especially in industries that employed people who became of working age in the 1950s and 1960s, such as healthcare, construction, and manufacturing. A good percentage of them keep working longer to make up for losses in their retirement accounts during the recession of 2008-2009. Many are forced to retire, not because they want to, but because of poor health.
Tightening immigration policies will make it harder to create and fill new jobs, especially in certain industries that rely heavily on unauthorized workers, including agriculture, construction, and leisure and hospitality. Employers need these workers and want the government to figure out how to let them into the country legally on work visas.
Business conditions such as slow corporate revenue growth, high labor costs, and a rising turnover rate are likely to make labor shortages worse, as the Boomer generation ages over the next 15 years.
Be the solution
If this is the reality, what can you and your clients do? One answer is to get involved by supporting efforts that show our youth there are alternatives to getting a college degree. I am involved with Michigan Works, a government-funded association that was established to provide services and support to workforce development. It started CareerQuestUSA, a one-day event where local schools bus students to see what the industries of information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and construction have to offer. This year, over 9,000 students visited exhibits by businesses in each of these sectors and had the opportunity to look under the hoods of jobs and industries they never even thought were available.
You also should encourage your clients to have a strategy to attract and keep the best workers. They need to realize that they are competing for employees and it’s not just about the money. If a company embraces the newly trained employee and outlines a career path that challenges and excites that employee, while building a next-generation culture, the employee will be reluctant to leave.
It’s also important for you to stress to clients that they fully understand the employee experience, from interview to the first day of work and beyond. Maybe the employee entrance needs a fresh coat of paint, a lunchroom upgrade, or a clean restroom. How are the lighting and housekeeping? According to OSHA, poor housekeeping can be an indicator of lax safety practices (there’s an insurance reason to address this), poor quality, and even low production.
If you want to ensure ongoing success and economic vitality, you should encourage clients to offer competitive pay and benefits and treat employees professionally. This may require training supervisors who may not be experts in human resources but are focused on getting the product out the door. It’s important to keep employees healthy and safe (again, insurance and risk management come into play), so they can be productive for themselves, their families, and their employer for many years.
As risk advisors, we benefit when we go beyond the insurance sale and make sure our clients and prospects know that we care about helping them solve issues they’re facing, even if it doesn’t involve selling them more insurance. Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, once said: “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Show them you care, and I suspect you’ll have clients for life.
Randy Boss is a Certified Risk Architect at Ottawa Kent in Jenison, Michigan. As a Risk Architect, he designs, builds and implements risk management and insurance plans for middle market companies in the areas of human resources, property/casualty & benefits. He has 40 years’ experience and has been at Ottawa Kent for 35 years. He is the co-founder of OSHAlogs.com, an OSHA compliance and injury management platform. Randy can be reached at email@example.com