Authors: Kandi Hamble and Ashley Rannikar
Company: Art Unlimited - brings Life to marketing. Providing roofing contractors and business owners digital marketing services since 1982.
On one side of the fence, people are struggling to find jobs. On the other side, employers are struggling to find qualified employees to fill those positions. Skilled trades have been especially hard hit. They are fighting against misconceptions and struggling to show the value they offer not only our communities but those who work the job.
When the recession started in 2007, it is estimated by the National Association of Home Builders that 70% of skilled laborers left the trade in search of a more stable career. Now that things are looking up, how many of those 70% have returned to the trade? Less than half. This is a brutal hit to a booming industry and economy. Additionally, Memphisdailynews.com reports that only one skilled tradesman enters the workforce for every five who retire.
In the face of these two obstacles, how can companies combat the hiring crisis? We believe the answer is to be a company worth working for - not just a paycheck, but a business who genuinely cares about your employees and improve their quality of life.
Everything you do sends a message. Here are three ways to overcome hiring obstacles from the inside-out:
Know your company purpose
Create your company personality
Change perception about your company
Know Your Company Purpose
As humans, we all look for purpose. We want our lives and our work to mean something. Time is our most valuable resource, and we want to spend it wisely. Knowing this, how does purpose fit into the jobs we choose? Purpose plays a major role, and while it may not always be crystal clear, it affects everything from how you feel about your job to how you interact with coworkers and customers.
Let me introduce to you two identical construction businesses in the same market.
Company 1 is a thriving company with a solid employee base. Turnover is rare, though they are almost always hiring because business is growing. People in the community know and trust this company.
Company 2, on the other hand, is struggling. They are always hiring because turnover is high. People inwardly groan when they see the company is working on something around town. Skilled people only work there if they are desperate.
What do you think the difference is between Company 1 and Company 2? The difference is in the leadership team.
The owner of Company 1 knows his purpose in the community. He is there to make it a better place to live and work. He knows his employees are a big part of making this happen.
The owner of Company 2 is frustrated by how difficult it has become to keep his business afloat. He takes his frustration out on his employees. He has lost sight of his purpose, why he started his business in the first place. He knows the owner of Company 1 and wishes his business could be thriving so well. But where does he start?
Do you think the owner of Company 2 can turn around his business? We KNOW he can! Let’s look closer at the owner of Company 1:
He sees his company as an integral part of his community. He has a purpose and is constantly sharing it. His work shows him carrying out that purpose.
His employees know the purpose of their work. They have ‘bought into it’ by working at Company 1. Each day is purpose-filled, which gives them the determination to see even the hard days through. They know the end result is improvement not only for the company but for their community.
Keeping this in mind, how can the owner of Company 2 –and you– use purpose to change the view of your company? How do you define your purpose? Here are four questions for you to answer for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer.
What service do you provide? This may seem rudimentary, but it is important! How do you serve others through your company? This can help define your purpose. (example: We repair or replace roofs.)
How do you provide your service? This could also be phrased: How do you treat your customers? What emotions do you want to evoke when your trade, your company, your brand is seen around town? What needs to happen to change this? (example: We communicate and care about those we work for. People are happy to see us.)
What does your company offer the community? How do the services you supply help improve your community? What value do they give, either to individual families or the community as a whole? (example: New or repaired roofs keep families safe and their homes protected. This makes the community look good.)
How do you give back to the community? This goes above and beyond selling your services. Think about how you can help your community through volunteering, donations, or education.
Defining your purpose is just the first step in changing the perception of your company. Keep in mind this will take time. At first, you will need to be very intentional about injecting your purpose into each decision. As time goes on it will become easier until you suddenly realize you are living and breathing your company's purpose in every action.
It all starts with you. By defining your purpose, how you improve your community, and how you treat others, you will bring change to your company. This will seep into your marketing and out into how the trades are viewed.
Create Your Company Personality
Did you know companies can have personalities? Going back to Companies 1 and 2, they each had different personalities based not only on who their leadership was, but what the purpose was.
Employees at both companies work hard, but at Company 1, they have fun doing it. A comradery has been built through teamwork and shared experiences. Coworkers are even doing things together outside of work hours. They feel valued by their employer.
At Company 2, employees work hard, get a paycheck, and go home to crash for a day or so before doing the grinding work all over. They feel like a number and unvalued. They don’t get along with co-workers and definitely don’t see them outside of work.
Which company would you work for?
One thing which defines your company personality is your core values. Having core values documented will work with your purpose to provide a code of conduct for your employees. Company culture and personality grow out of core values in action. They answer these six questions:
What is it like to work at your company? Do you have consistent hours and fair compensation? Do you provide the resources needed for completing jobs? Do employees know what to expect when they start their first day of work? Do job seekers have a good idea about what they will encounter when they apply for a job?
How do you treat your employees? Do you treat each employee fairly and with respect? Do you publicly appreciate and privately instruct on improvements? How do you show them they are not just working to make someone else a buck or two? Do you take responsibility for mistakes and work to make them right?
How do you expect your employees to interact with others? This includes coworkers and people they meet throughout the course of the day. If they are working out in the public, they become advertising for your company and the trade they are working in. Anyone in the area will see and hear how they interact with each other.
How should customers expect to be treated? Your customers will have expectations of how they want to be treated. Do your values and theirs align? Do your actions reflect your words? Practice what you preach!
How are you involved in your community? What value do you add, aside from creating jobs? How do you pour into your community? Do people recognize you as a respectable business and get behind your work?
How are you consistently showing your core values? From your online presence to in-person interactions, you need to deliver what you say you will. Consistency in all you do is critical to changing the labor crisis.
Keep your core values short, direct, and to the point. They must be easy to remember and act on. Putting these values into action will help you build trust with those who interact with your company. Stick to your core values and eventually everyone who comes into contact with your employees, property, services, website, and marketing will know what you stand for.
Change Perception About Your Company
What is the perception of the trade you work in? Changing the perception of the trades –and your company– may be one of the biggest ways to combat the hiring crisis. “Young adults often see vocational jobs as a grueling line of work offering no career advancement or financial and job security,” says the Washington Post.
In the quote from the Washington Post above, we see three major misconceptions to overcome. Grueling work, also often seen as undesirable hard work geared towards men only. Lack of career advancement and job security. Lack of financial security. How can you change these perceptions? Knowing your purpose and having a defined personality is a good start.
How can you get new people to buy into the trades? Drawing in a fresh perspective is always a great way to shake things up and make improvements, no matter the industry. How can you invite women into the trades? They have unique viewpoints and skills which can be a valuable asset to make the trades even stronger. On the flip side, if your employees are miserable working for you they will communicate that and this battle is already lost.
Thinking about career advancement and job security, how can the perception surrounding this be changed? If these jobs are considered low skill, changing the perception could be as simple as hosting workshops where interested people come to learn more about the job. Doing special training at your local high school could spark students’ interest while also giving them basic required skills. This could also help close the gap of gaining skills which may seem inaccessible. The costs of training and receiving lower pay as an apprentice may be doable for a young person out of school, but with a family comes greater responsibility.
What does financial security mean? This is different in each part of the country. Each day, millions of adults trade our valuable resource of time for a piece of paper which allows us to live in our homes, put food on the table, and clothe our families. It gives us the resources to get to work, church, school, and do fun things. If we worry about the paycheck we get, it affects each part of our lives – including our job. If the trades are seen as lacking in financial security then a large chunk of potentially great employees will not even consider such a career change.
Take a good, hard look at how your actions are affecting the trades. Your action - and inaction - speaks louder than words in changing perceptions. It all starts with you! Think about the message you are sending through your past and present employees. Treat them well, be clear on what you expect from them and from yourself.. Build a solid digital presence with consistent messaging in your website, job ads, and social media. Add in traditional media such as billboards, flyers, and newspapers. With each of these components, send a consistent message about working in the trades. Live and breathe your core values.
Everything you do sends a message. What message are you sending?
Kandi Hamble is the content editor at Art Unlimited. She produces great informative & educational content on a monthly basis for her clients’ websites & blogs. She loves improving her clients’ online presence through thoughtfully-crafted & individualized content. For more information, contact Art Unlimited, www.artunlimitedusa.com
Ashley Rannikar is an SEO manager at Art Unlimited. Her job is to increase website accessibility for users and search engines. She is an expert at increasing website ranking and a master at content writing. For more information, contact Art Unlimited, www.artunlimitedusa.com