Despite High Unemployment, Good Employees Are Still Hard to Find

I was fortunate to have a considerable amount of downtime during the month of June of 2011. There are a lot of ways that I could have spent that time, but I chose to spend a lot of it visiting with past, present, and future clients and just have some casual conversations with them about what was going on and what they saw as some challenges for their future. Now, please understand that these organizations are not average at all. I have been very fortunate to get to work with some very good organizations and help them on their journey to becoming even better. So what I heard from each of them came as no real surprise to me. Every single client shared with me that they were struggling to find great employees to fill positions in their organizations.

That’s right; despite an unemployment rate running above 9%, every single one of these organizations were still having a hard time finding the right kind of people to fill critical positions in their organizations. After all, they weren’t just looking for anyone to fill a position. They all knew the damage that this approach could have on their organization’s ability to perform, as people who do not fit and who are not high performers could set the wrong example for the rest of the organization.

Instead, they were very meticulously searching for employees who had both the right skills and the right attitudes that could enhance the performance of their organization. This isn’t an easy task, but these organizations understood the value of taking their time to find the best employees and then doing what it takes to make sure they are welcomed and that they will want to stay for the long-term.

One of the things I often do in our Strategic Executive Briefings, as well as in our work with executives and managers, is to ask them about the challenges that their organizations face over the next 7 to 10 years, and the kinds of people they will need to overcome those challenges. No matter what the challenges are that these organizations face, in over 8 years that I’ve been doing this, the answers about the kinds of employees remain the same. They all want committed, self-motivated, creative, innovative, responsible, team players who are talented, proactive, willing to learn, and who will work hard for their organization.

Everyone is after the same type of employee, and even with the high unemployment rate, they are still hard to find. It is all too easy to put bodies into vacant positions and see if they will make it or not, but that approach is very costly, both in recruiting and onboarding costs, as well as the long-term impact it has on your other employees. It is far better to leave a position open, even those critical ones, than to fill it with someone who is not the right person for the job or the organization. These organizations understand that.

What my clients, both past and present, also understand is that no matter if they hire the best employees, they will only remain the best if they provide them with the right environment for them to work and excel. Providing this kind of environment also gives them an edge in recruiting the best employees, as the best employees do want to work for an organization where they can excel and are not micromanaged. Of course, this environment comes from the way management chooses to manage, and the Seven Elements of High Performance™ provides them with an excellent blueprint. After all, it all begins with Putting People at the Center, and making sure that you have good people and a good environment for them to work in is a key component to high performance.

This is just one of the many insights that I gained from my visits with my clients and what they had to share with me. Keep an eye out for more articles, as I expand on this issue of finding good employees, as well as other thoughts that they stimulated.