I distinctly remember a family gathering a few years back. Not for anything that happened but more for what was missed. You see, I was late. Now, it is pretty typical for a family with four boys to be late, so it wasn’t the end of the world. What I missed out on by being late is where the memory resounds.
We have some darn good cooks in our family. There are some excellent dishes that get served at these family functions, and everyone shows up to partake in the best of the best. I am sure that your family outings are the same. A few excellent dishes, a lot of good stuff on the second tier, and then two or three dishes you wouldn’t feed to your dogs. Yeah, that is the spread at every family potluck function around the country.
What the hell is this about? Well, anyone who has read a few of these articles knows that I find correlation in the weirdest of places. By being late that day, I missed out on not only the excellent dishes but about half of the second tier and found myself sifting through the ashes of dinner, trying to find enough pieces to put a whole plate together. Not my finest meal.
Where the correlation comes in is with the current situation in our labor force. We all are struggling. It gets harder and harder by the day to find quality employees that want to show up, work, and stick around longer than a couple paychecks. It is a climate that we have created, and now we must address. Let’s use the family function as an example but replace a few things.
The food dishes at the table represent the labor force. There is a good spread. Some excellent employees out there, a lot of good second tier employees, enough filler to get you full, and just like your uncle’s botched tuna casserole, a few duds.
The family that is waiting to attack is our industry. Yes, we all are competition, but we are family. We are all after the same thing. The best employees possible, both in quality and quantity desired.
What do you think happens when we show up late to the labor force party? That is right, we miss out on the good stuff and end up scrapping the bottom of the serving dishes trying to satisfy our hunger with crumbs.
The labor force party has already started. Wages are higher than ever; benefits are becoming more common, company trucks, vacation, and a host of other things are now going to the employees. This may be the first time in history that the power of the labor is with the labor force. Us owners cannot push them around anymore; they are almost irreplaceable at this point.
Knowing this, why are so many reluctant to get to the party quicker? If you started today, you would still be ahead of the market average. There is still time to get there early and have your choice and as much of that choice as you want.
Get your wages up, start sharing profit, add benefits, do whatever it takes to attract the best employees. Before you say that “we can’t afford to pay more than we are or we will lose money!”, let me tell you, WHO CARES. It is more expensive to not have employees than to pay them a little bit more. $1 an hour only equates to $2080.00 per year to the employee. Seriously, if your margins are so tight that you can’t afford a few thousand a year to get and keep a productive employee, you may want to rethink your bidding and sales structure.
By getting your wages higher and offering the things that good employees are looking for now, you can make the party early and secure your share of the best. Raise prices as necessary, but do not wait until you get your prices up to pay more. By that time, you will be late to the party and scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel. As it appears that our labor force is only going to shrink more, and our demand is going to grow, I ask for your sake, don’t be late.