CONVERSATIONS: CAN’T FIND EMPLOYEES?
Conversations – “I can’t seem to find any employees who will work here… and don’t know why?”
Here is a conversation with a business owner… see if you can tell why this person is having issues hiring good employees? Would you agree with what I recommended here? I know this always seems easy when viewed “from the outside” but it is important to discover the sometimes “easy” reasons why things are not working and strive not to repeat them.
A little background on the job position… it is mostly a “learn on the job” opportunity and does not require advanced education or experience as much as an interest in the field and a willingness to learn. It is inside work (no external sales) and only moderately physical.
Business Owner: “I can’t seem to find any good employees to hire! I take out ads and state the job requirements. In the ad I also state the rate of pay is $12 – $14 per hour and I tend to get plenty of applicants each time I post the ad. But, after I interview them and call them to make the offer they tend to refuse the position. I can’t figure out what is happening.”
Me: “Hmmm, that is interesting. I have reviewed your ad and the rate of pay for this job seems reasonable. When you interview the qualified applicants what do you tell them about the position and so forth? Is it different than what was posted in the ad?
Business Owner: “No, I explain the position and what the typical work day/tasks are and they usually see this as a great opportunity to get into this field!”
Me: “Ok, that really seems strange then… why would they not hire on with you? Do they tell you they found a different job already before you called them to tell them you wanted them to work for you? Did you just miss the timing here?”
Business Owner: “No, that is not the typical answer… they just say no-thank-you and that they are going to continue to look elsewhere.”
Me: “Ok, there has to be something that is changing their mind about working for you… what else do you talk about during the interview besides the work day and tasks they will get to do?”
Business Owner: “Well, I also explain to them they would start out at around $9.00 per hour and that I just can’t pay more than that… as my numbers just don’t work out if I was to pay people more than that.”
Me: I just sigh to myself thinking what can I say now? I have to be honest with this person as they truly did not see what they were doing.
First, I thought to myself… can you imagine being on the potential-employee-side of the interview for this position? Would it feel like a “bait-and-switch” during the interview when the pay range was initially stated right in the ad for several dollars more per hour? And, then when the owner states they can’t pay more than this as the numbers can’t workout if the pay is higher… how would that make you feel about the future at this company? Would you hire on here? Probably not!
So, I stated “I think it is very important for employers (and those doing the interviewing) to avoid insulting people and their intelligence during a job interview. The interview process is stressful enough for candidates and when you change the offered rate of pay at this point it can make a candidate feel like they were tricked. This is not a good way to start out an employer/employee relationship. You have to be careful not to make any candidate feel dumb or desperate during this process and I am afraid that is what is happening. Would you hire on to a company that told you these things?”
Business Owner: “Well, I can’t pay them any more than that as I don’t have enough margin in my pricing to pay them any more. If I do… I can’t justify making this product”
Me: “I believe you have a couple of different issues going on here. First, the immediate solution is fixing the dishonest ad and setting proper expectations for everyone involved… put the honest rate of pay in the ad as $9 per hour so your potential candidates know what they are applying for. Next, you need to review your business financials and product pricing to find out what can be done to make the product’s profit margin better (if possible). If you can’t make that happen this becomes a larger issue for you because it deals with the very foundation of the product and the company’s viability. But, assuming we can make the profit margin better by reviewing and adjusting the overhead and other costs, manufacturing processes and efficiency, and/or product pricing adjustments your company will look more attractive to join. We need the candidates to want to join your company because it has a bright future and will be a long-term employment option… with opportunities for occasional pay raises in the future. Who would want to join a company that tells them ‘this base is it… no way up from here as it simply can’t work to pay anyone above this base rate of pay’. If we correct these issues my guess is the candidates you offer a position to will gladly accept and show up ready to work for you and want to be part of making the company and product a success!”