At a recent CEO meeting produced by the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) the number one topic- Workforce Development! Now as most HR professionals have experienced over the last few years, this is no surprise. My goal is to help sort through the information to give you the tips that can help an employee prospect become a productive staff member.
Human Resources is overworked, again, nothing new here from Captain Obvious. The reasons are glaringly obvious from the state of health benefits and their premiums to the short “shelf life” of new employees. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 4.6 years is the Median time spent with a company with 3.2 years for the 25-34 year old demographic. Very Scary, more work for HR professionals!!!
This is troubling when you factor in a 6-month search for skilled trade and engineers, 6 months onboarding and one year till they become productive. It’s downright terrifying.
The Good News
The bright spot takeaways from the PMA roundtable discussion is that this trend is reversible if you take into account a few simple concepts.
1. Goal Setting – Be clear about your expectations and more importantly their expectations when you bring in a new employee. If they have the desire to move up, build them a plan to get there. It’s best to be clear on the goals and the outcomes. If they want to be VP of engineering help them to see that vision, it will drive their performance. Many Asian companies suggest you train for 2 positions above yours so you understand the decision-making process and the “Why” behind the yes or no answer.
2. Milestones – Working as an instructor in Taekwondo, I learned from our highest ranking instructor the key to keeping students involved and engaged is setting smaller milestones. As an example going from white belt to yellow is one belt change and possibly 3 months. However, there are 6 stripe increments that we awarded before they were ready to test for yellow. How does this apply? Instead of the old way of advancing from Engineer to Engineering Manager (10-15 years possibly), you build incremental steps between those positions. Perhaps you create engineer level 1, 2, 3, group leader engineer, assistant manager, manager (1-2 year increments). This also comes with increased responsibilities and metrics. The Goal is to give them the much-needed advancement and recognition they desire while building a more productive employee. Broadcast their achievement in the company newsletter!
3. Accentuate your positives – Small companies have faster growth opportunities with extreme diversity in the tasks performed. This can be right up the alley of a new hire that wants to be challenged and easily gets bored. Larger companies have the stability that is often desired by new hires. Matching employees is a skill set in and of itself as most of you know.
4. Flexibility – Flexibility can mean their schedule or in terms of the jobs they will be performing. One of the biggest complaints new hires have is that they want the job to conform to them. Yes, to some extent that’s true, that is what they want, perhaps you can have work from home or flextime adjustments. These are huge selling points to the “workers with options” as I like to refer to younger, talented prospects. Embracing technology is part of flexibility. If the company has limited technology within the company, many candidates will see this as a negative. If the company policy is no devices on the premises period. You may be scaring away talent.
5. Apprenticeships, Mirroring, Mentors, Fellowships – Probably the greatest opportunity is the quid pro quo found with hiring someone who will gain from being around skilled mentors. Many of the leaders at the CEO roundtable used apprenticeships to have employees under contract. The employees received education and a higher pay scale to start and a bump upon completion. The companies had an agreement with the employees that they would continue on for a predetermined period of time. Sometimes these included a non-compete clause. This has been used for years in the medical field where a new doctor/nurse would have their tuition reimbursed based on the contract they agreed to with the hospital. The military has had contracts for their pilots who were trained airmen and they agreed to stay on for a number of years. This works great for newer employees who have as much to gain as they are willing to contribute back. This process can also become cyclical where the mentee becomes the mentor.