Help Wanted – here’s some help

With 35 years working in business and now supporting others through consulting services, I don’t know that I have seen the prolonged staffing issues across the country as we have now.  There are staffing issues impacting manufacturing industries, the service segments, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and those in non-profit organizations.  These staffing issues include unfilled positions (shortages), unreliable attendance, high turnover rates, and declining employee engagement.  We have all been impacted by staffing issues in Lincoln Parish to varying degrees.

While these issues may be just part of the times we are living in today, there are steps we can take as business owners, directors, managers, leaders, and elected officials to address the issues causing these problems.  Before I share some insights on this matter, let me be clear on two things:

  • There are exceptions to what I will share.
  • I don’t know everything about every situation.

With that said, we must start by asking a simple question – Why should someone want to work in my organization?  The real question that I am getting to here is whether we are creating desirable places for people to work.  Are we creating a work culture (environment) that is both attractive to people looking for employment and desirable for our current team members to stay?  Once we get past the obvious issues of competitive pay and benefits, the primary factor impacting hiring, retention, attendance, and engagement is culture.  

While culture has always been important, I think it matters more now than ever.  If you ever wonder why one organization struggles with staffing, and another in the same type of business, with similar pay and benefits doesn’t struggle, the answer is culture.  Workplace culture involves a number of aspects impacting the work environment.  The following suggestions can help you create a desirable culture in your workplace and address those staffing challenges.

  • Purpose:  Today’s workers want to know they are doing meaningful work.  Define purpose for your organization, define purpose in the specific roles within your organization, and focus on achieving purpose not completing tasks.  
  • Investment:  Engage with employees on a regular basis to provide feedback on performance, ask about concerns, discuss development opportunities, and inquire how they feel about staying.  If you don’t think you have time for this investment, just consider the time you are currently spending on replacing people that are leaving.
  • Team concept:  The more you can create a team atmosphere of common purpose, mutual support, encouragement, effective training, and ongoing development, the better off you will be long-term.  People want to connect.  Today’s workers grew up playing on teams, working on group projects, and participating with groups in various organizations.  We need to create that same team culture in the workplace.
  • Responsibility:  The more we can give our team members responsibility for aspects of our operation (even very small things), the more they will feel valued, appreciated, and essential to the organization.  People want to be needed and valued.

There is obviously a lot more to this concept of culture to be considered, and many more specific actions that can be taken to move this direction and address those staffing issues in your organization.  If you are struggling in this area, just consider trying a different approach.  Consider this idea of workplace culture enhancement.  It may be just what you need.