Your LinkedIn Newsletter Sucks, and Other Truths No One Is Telling You!

Before I get into this rant, let me give a shoutout to Hung Lee. Hung runs the Recruiting Brainfood newsletter out of the UK and it is seriously the best recruiting newsletter on the planet. Also, Hung believes everyone should start a LinkedIn Newsletter, which leads me to believe that maybe he caught the Covid or something and his brain is slipping!

First off, is there a glitch in the Matrix or something? Since the beginning of the year, I’ve seriously received over 50 LinkedIn Newsletter invitations. Somedays I’m getting over 5 per day! What the heck is going on?

Second off, no one needs all these dumb newsletters!

Have you seen some of these!? Most are bad life coaching newsletters or professionals who are working at home and just flat bored with nothing else to do. I have yet to receive one that looked half-interesting. Here’s a sample of the newsletter titles:

  • Leadership and You
  • The Cup’s Half Full Newsletter
  • Leadership Insights
  • The Thoughtful Leader
  • The Top Talent Newsletter

Reading these again just made me fall asleep, where was I again?

Why Shouldn’t You Start A LinkedIn Newsletter?

You shouldn’t primarily because you won’t sustain it and ultimately it makes you look like you’ve got a follow-through problem professionally!

Look, here’s the deal. Most people suck at writing. Some are good, but will just run out of things to say in around ninety days. Either way, all of these newsletters will just sit there with old content. Then one day, someone will find it and their first thought won’t be, “OMG! This newsletter is amazing and changed my life!” It will be, “this is odd, this person hasn’t written in 18 months, I wonder if the Covid got them!?”

To Hung’s belief, yes, everyone has a voice. But this is where Hung I part ways. He believes because you have a voice you should use it. I believe most voices suck! If yours sucks, don’t use it, use something else you’re good at! What the last twelve years of writing have shown me is most people’s writing voice isn’t very good, and no one wants to read it. But you’re bored and you think what the heck, someone might turn their life around by me sharing my “Thoughtful Leadership” thoughts, but they won’t, in fact, you might actually be the catalyst that finally pushes them over the edge! Let that sink in, you LinkedIn Newsletter Murderer!

By the way, this is not an indictment on LinkedIn! That would be like me blaming Taco Bell for fat people. No, Taco Bell is awesome, I love it. My low willpower is to blame, not Taco Bell. I don’t blame LinkedIn for stupid people. LinkedIn just provided a great tool for stupid people to spread their stupid. How did LinkedIn know stupid people wanted to share their stupid?

Another reason you shouldn’t start a LinkedIn Newsletter is that you actually don’t have an opinion. “Racism is bad!” Groundbreaking, thanks. Any other hot takes, Sparky? You actually have to have an opinion. Have a legitimate take on something. Stating the obvious, while probably be cathartic at some level for you, isn’t readable!

This isn’t to say that LinkedIn Newsletters can’t be ultra-popular. One of the Top 5 LI Newsletters is a dude who gives career advice. He has over 750K followers. I’m sure it’s great stuff, like, don’t stink and don’t throw up during an interview. All the ‘real’ stuff job seekers need to know. I haven’t read his newsletter but I’m guessing he had a 13-minute career as a recruiter which makes him highly qualified to now give out this life-changing advice.

I know. I know. You’re going to make so many new sales and clients with your newsletter, plus your Aunt Jenny who’s a retired accountant told you how great she thinks it is. No, you won’t and No, it’s not. Stop it. Stop sending me your damn invites. I hate your Newsletters! They’re awful! Someone needs to tell you the truth!

Okay, I have to go start my Linkedin Newsletter before I miss out on this gravy train!

In 2050, all education will be online. If so, how will we create adults?

I read an article the other day where a guy (a futurist, if you will) decided to give his best explanation of what the world would like in 2050 based on technological, environmental, societal, financial, etc. advances or regressions.

I’ve talked about this before, but being asked about the future is a fun thought experiment because you can be wildly wrong and no one really cares. It’s all a guess. I get asked all the time to talk about the future of TA and HR Technology. I love it! I can say anything I want you can’t tell me I’m wrong. Well, you could, but by the time one of us is right, it’s in the future and we don’t care.

So, this dude, Erik Hoel, says that in 2050 all higher education will be done solely online. No big campuses with gothic buildings and manicured lawns. No student unions and big libraries. No dorms and cafeteria food. No fraternities or sororities. Just you and a laptop sitting in your parent’s spaceship doing Econ 101.

Sounds dreadfully awful!

I don’t have a problem with education being online. In fact, it could be the most equitable thing the future will bring us. Everyone could now have the best professors from all over the world! Harvard could have 1 million graduates a year, instead of a few thousand of the most privileged students on the planet. We could bring world-class education to everyone.

But, only one type of education…

Part of the college experience is the socialization, both good and bad, of becoming an adult in sort of a lab-like environment. You get to go out and experiment in a community of mostly like-minded folks, of similar ages and test your ideas, your looks, see what you like and what others like about you. You get to begin to build a network of friends and peers that you can carry into your professional world.

University just doesn’t give you book smarts, it helps prepare you to deal with real-world stuff, but not all at once. You get to live on your own away from your parents, but someone is still making your food and paying the heating bill. It’s a period, for those who get a chance to experience it, to gradually move into the world of adulthood.

I get it, going from high school to the military, or working on a factory floor is also another type of becoming an adult, and in a much quicker way! We all have our paths, I’m not judging any of those as being more or less valuable. All I’m saying is full online college for everyone, if the future brings us this, I think is a mistake.

How did college make me an adult?

I can look back at my undergrad college experience at the University of Wyoming and think most of what I learned had very little to do with the classes I took. It might have helped if I showed up to most of my classes, but that’s another story.

After I blew through all of my college savings in my first semester, I quickly had to learn how to survive, to pay bills, to use the system to help me, to ask for help, to help others, to build a network of support, and sometimes to just call home and cry and tell my parent’s life sucks being an adult!

Gawd, how stupid was I to think my “little” problems as a college student were adult problems! What most of us wouldn’t give to go back to those problems.

College taught me how to barter. I really only had one skill, I mean besides my charm and dashing looks, I could work hard, or at the very least I was reliable to show up and work as hard as I could. My hard work got me many meals, many free drinks, tickets to entertainment to take my eventual wife. College towns are mostly run by college kids. To barter was life! I will do this for you and you will do this for me, no money has to change hands! I worked many bar shifts for free, for food and drinks. I traded out many movies passes at the theater I worked for dinner.

College taught me that people will take you in when you have no place to go and treat you like family. Every holiday when going home was too far and too expensive I always had multiple offers to stay and feast. When I had my own kids, they knew our house is always open to anyone who needs a place to stay and feel like they are home.

College taught me that you can live on almost next to nothing and still be completely happy and thriving. Great friends, conversations, challenging things to learn. No one really cares what you are wearing, or what car you drive or don’t drive because you don’t even have a car. They only care that you add to that conversation in a positive way and accept others may think differently, but that’s the fun of learning and interacting.

I’m not sure what 2050 will bring. I’m sure it will be different. I hope we can find ways to give more people the gift of a higher education, but also the gift of slowly learning how to become adults before they really have to be adults.

The LinkedIn Invite That Got Me to Click!

The recruiter in me is constantly trying to figure out the best subject line for emails and Inmails to get a response. At the end of the day, I need people to click to open so I can potentially recruit them. That’s how we become successful in recruiting, getting people interested!

My #1 go-to subject line for years has simply been my last name “Sackett”. Just that one word in the subject gets more click-throughs than anything else I’ve used. Now my friends Stacy Zapar and Angle Verros will both kill me if I don’t mention that the real #1 click-through subject line is really anything personal to the person you are sending it to!

For me, being a huge Michigan State Spartans fan, if you sent me an Inmail or email that said, “Go Green” I would definitely open that message! It’s specifically personal to me and I know you had to take a few seconds to understand me as a person.

This Lady Got Me!

Here’s the LinkedIn Invite that got me to accept:

Brilliant LinkedIn Invite

So, I’m not making fun of Yvonne! I’m admiring her marketing brilliance!

I only accept about 40% of my LinkedIn invitations because, like you, I get so many that are just spam and/or sales outreach for things I do not want or need. The moment you accept comes some cheesy sales pitch and you end up hating yourself for accepting! So, I’m pretty picky. This one got me!

Right away I was leary. “Private Coach” – no thanks! “Business Owners” – Ugh, sales pitch coming…but Yvonne did something special. She personalized it, or at least it felt personal to me! “I’ve decided not to send you the generic LI invite…” And then the magic, “Fingers crossed”!

FINGERS CROSSED!

I got duped by a generic mass invite message, by a person saying “THIS ISN’T GENERIC” and then saying “Fingers Crossed”! My mind couldn’t comprehend that this wasn’t an actual personal message. It seemed so personal and yet was not personal at all once you really dig into it.

I was the idiot. The moment after accepting came the auto-response cheesy sales pitch! Ugh! Damn you, Yvonne (if that’s even your name!) you go me!

I actually was super impressed and told her, right after removing the connection! Give credit where credit is due. She got me and I had to give her a hat tip. It’s pretty rare that I find a truly magical wording that can get someone to click, and I think she found it. And I think we all should steal it because it’s actually marvelous in its simplicity!

G*d Damn, fingers crossed got me. I feel like such an amateur right now!

What was your biggest dream as a child?

When I was a kid, like eight to ten years old, I wanted to play in the MLB. The Detroit Tigers were my team and I thought one day, I’ll be playing at Tiger Stadium! But I kind of sucked. So, that wasn’t going to happen!

I got a little bit older and my dream was to be a teacher. Now, for a teenage boy that seems like a weird dream. But, I grew up in a blue-collar city, and every day I actually walked past a GM factory on my way to school. In baseball when we hit a foul ball it would go into the GM factory parking lot. I was from a divorced family, so teachers played a big part in my life, and one in particular really got me to want to teach.

As a child, your dreams should be giant. You can do anything! And, if you’re fortunate enough to be raised by emotionally healthy people you are most likely told you can do anything.

Those giant dreams die fast.

Kids aren’t judged by their giant dreams. You can be a superhero or a princess or anything. We think it’s cute when kids are naive to the real world. At some point, usually in adolescence, we begin to understand that naive dreams get us laughed at. They become hard to hold onto. If you actually make it out of high school and still have your dreams, well you become a dreamer! You get labeled as artistic and your parents probably believe you’ll never “make it”.

Dreams go from being awesome to being you’re basically an idiot. Maybe we should get you tested. Are you on drugs? “Dear, I think he’s on drugs!” He says he wants to be a pop star!

The only way you can actually hold onto your dream is if you were actually super talented in something. He can hit the ball a mile! Okay, hold onto that dream of playing professional baseball, even when you’re 28 and making $18K a year playing in the minor leagues. Oh, she’s got a great voice, she won the talent competition at the Corn Fair 2016! Keep signing in those bars for $200 a night.

It seems like the dream equation is you have to be better than almost every single person around you at something = you can hold onto that dream. If you don’t have superior talent over the people in your immediate vicinity, go get a job at the Amazon warehouse. Having a dream is hard work!

I wanted to be a professional baseball player.

I then wanted to be a teacher.

I ended up being a recruiter.

What was your dream?

The Rules for Hugging at Work Post-Pandemic

Okay, I’ve been known as the guy who likes to hug, and I’m not sure why I have this designation but it might be because of this post here. Also, I tend to like hugs! And, I might have hugged a bunch of folks to kick off my speaking engagements demonstrating the Official Office Hugging Rules!

My mate (that’s what English male friends call each other) Chris Bailey (who is a world-class hugger in his own right) and I were messaging back and forth the other day on WhatsApp (Editor note: Tim has to tell you he was messaging on WhatsApp so he seems cool and worldly) and he said, “Mate, you need to write the rules for Hugging at Work after Covid”. He’s right, it’s time.

The key to great rules is you get them out before people start making up their own rules. Since organizations are just not figuring out return-to-work strategies, and a bunch of people are getting their Covid Juice (vaccines), the world, or at least Chris Bailey, is clamoring for how can we start hugging again!

The Rules for Hugging at Work, Post-Pandemic

1. Read the Original Rules of Hugging at Work, they still apply, but we needed some additions.

2. If both parties are Vaxed you are free to party! Hug away! Hug me like you missed me! Hug me so hard it might start an HR investigation! But only hugging, Sparky, don’t get too excited!

3. If one party is Vaxed and one party is stupid (err., not vaxed), Hug that moron if you want. Now, if you are vaxed and the non-vaxed person is wearing a mask, well that probably just helps knock down that coffee breath.

4. If you are not vaxed and the other party is not vaxed, please not only hug, but lick each other. The world is built around natural selection and there is nothing more exciting than watching natural selection take place in the wilds of the office!

5. Understand coming back into the office, Post-Pandemic, the world has changed a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge. There’s a good chance you hugging someone at work will get you fired. So, my recommendation is to hug anyway, no one wants to work in a world where “Karen’s” rule the world!

6. Don’t hug someone who is trying to give you an elbow bump. That person is weird.

7. Don’t hug someone who says, “It’s just a little bit of allergies” as they are hacking up a lung. Also, if you’re sick, have enough self-insight to let folks know so they don’t come in for a snuggle!

8. If it looks like someone needs a hug, ask them, and if they don’t say “No”, most likely they need a hug! The world has been an especially hard place the past year or so. A lot of folks need a hug!

9. Some of your folks are remote and they need a hug. Great leaders, in a new world of remote, hybrid, and on-premise, will travel and deliver hugs. It might be the single most important thing you do as a leader all year. Hug delivery.

10. Hug with DEI in mind! Have you hugged a person of color today? What about one of your Transgender co-workers or peers? What about someone of the same sex? If you only hug the opposite sex of the same color you are, you might want to ask yourself why is that? I’m an equal opportunity hugger! Come get some!

11. No group hugs. Let’s stay civilized, people! It’s a special kind of crazy the person who initiates a group hug. In HR we use “group hug” as profiling the truly psycho employees we have working for us! “Come on guys! Let’s all do a big group hug!” – Um, No!, Trevor!

Cancel Culture Can’t Cancel Hugs!

I did a survey recently and it turns out 89% of people want a hug, and the 11% who don’t like hugs, also hate puppies (this is my own survey, don’t @ me!). Here’s the thing, as we get back to work and see folks we haven’t seen in a while there will be emotion! We missed a lot of these assholes! Enough that we will want to give them a hug!

Also, if you have folks working hybrid that you don’t get to see as much, when you do see them you will want to do more than a cold handshake or fist bump. The world needs one big giant hug, and we certainly have some co-workers who need more than a few hugs!

Hugs don’t need to be canceled. Hugs are great! What needs to be canceled are creepy dudes who hug inappropriately and make the people they hug feel uncomfortable. Fix that problem! Leave hugs alone!

The Tim Sackett Commencement Speech!

It’s that time of year when universities and high schools go through graduation ceremonies and we celebrate educational achievements.  It’s also that time of year when you get bombarded with every great commencement speech ever given.  There is clearly a recipe for giving a great commencement speech.  Here are the ingredients:

1. Make the graduates feel like they are about to accomplish something really great, and not just become part of the machine.

2. Make graduates believe like somehow they will be difference makers.

3. Make graduates think they have endless possibilities and opportunities.

4. Make graduates think the world really wants and need them and can’t wait to work with them.

5. Wear sunscreen.

I think that about sums up every great commencement speech ever given.  Let’s face it, the key to any great speech is not telling people what they need to hear, but telling them what they want to hear!

I would like to give a commencement speech.  I think it would be fun.  I like to inspire people.  Here are the main topics I would hit if I were to give a commencement speech:

1.  Work sucks, but being poor sucks more. Don’t ever think work should make you happy.  Find happiness in yourself, not what you do.

2.  You owe a lot of people, a lot of stuff.  Shut your mouth and give back to them. Stop looking for the world to keep giving you stuff.

3.  No one cares about you. Well, maybe your Mom, if you had a good Mom.  They care about what you can do for them.  Basically, you can’t do much, you’re a new grad.

4.  Don’t think you’re going to be special. 99.9% of people are just normal people, so will you.  The sooner you come to grips with this, the sooner you’ll be happy.

5.  Don’t listen to your bitter parents.  Almost always, the person who works the hardest has better outcomes in anything in life.  Once in a while, a person who doesn’t work hard, but has supremely better talent or connections than you, will kick your ass.  That’s life. Buy a helmet.

6.  Don’t listen to advice from famous people.  Their view of the world is warped through their grandiose belief somehow they made it through hard work and effort. It’s usually just good timing.

7. Find out who you care about in life, and make them a priority.  In this world, you have very few people you truly care about, and who care about you in return.  Don’t fuck that up.

8.  Make your mistakes when you’re young.  Failure is difficult, it’s profoundly more difficult when you have a mortgage and 2 kids to take care of.

9.  It’s alright that sometimes you have to kiss ass.  It doesn’t make you less of a person.

10. Twitter is not what the majority thinks. Twitter are the 10% on the fringe, right and left, don’t confuse what is trending on Twitter with reality, it’s not. The vast majority of America is still Moderate. Smart enough to see a topic probably has at least two sides and willing to understand both and form an opinion.

11.  Wear sunscreen.  Cancer sucks.

So, do you feel inspired now!?  Any high schools or colleges feel free to email me, I’m completely wide open on my commencement speech calendar and willing to give this speech in a moment’s notice!

What if you’re just average?

At some point in our little journey on this big floating rock we discover something about ourselves.Some of us discover we might actually be pretty good at some stuff and being good at that stuff actually has some value, so for all intensive purposes, if you’re one of these people, you kind of won the game!

First, congratulations. I’m truly happy for you.

Second, don’t get too cocky. The thing you might be good at is for some reason people find your appearance pleasing. So, you won by having strong appearance DNA. It’s not like you’re a brain surgeon or a popular influencer or something. You’re just good looking and food doesn’t make you fat, or maybe it does and that’s why people like you, who the hell knows why anyone wins the game anymore.

Some of us will find out we’re just average. There is actually nothing overly special about who we are and what we do. If we are lucky we’ll find another average person to fall in love with us, and we can average children, and hang with average friends, do average stuff on the weekends. Life doesn’t suck, it’s “fine”.

A few of us will find we basically suck at almost everything. Life is hard for those who suck. As the saying goes, it sucks to suck. That’s life, some great ones, a bunch of average ones, and few sucky ones. The problem with life is most people think they are either great or above average. No one thinks they suck (okay, some do, but properly medicated and with the right therapy that usually goes away), and almost no one thinks they’re average.

What do we do when 80% of those people we know don’t know they’re average?

I mean, I usually just tell them straight up after about three or four gin and tonics. Look dude, I love you, and that’s my own downfall, but you’re average. I mean, we can still hang, because I’m only slightly above average as compared to you, so we’re cool. That mostly doesn’t work, which is why I write on this blog and don’t hang with real friends, but in the end, I think those people who I wanted to be my friends will value straight-shooting.

I read this week that for every $1 I spend, that’s like Bill Gates spending $2.8 million dollars. If Bill Gates spent $1 million dollars per day, it would take him four hundred years to spend all of this money. Even after the divorce, or maybe even more with the divorce, Bill won the game.

$1 to $2.8 million puts into perspective the difference between average and great. It’s not just Bill is probably slightly better than you and me. He’s on a different planet! In fact, he could actually be on a different planet if he wanted.

We confuse being slightly above average, or even just better than the crappy person working next to us, that we must be great. But, just because you’re the tallest of the seven dwarfs doesn’t make you tall. The only way this concept works is if you’re slightly better than someone you know is great, not average or below average.

Every single generation has an issue with being average. We don’t want to be labeled as average we want to be extraordinary when 80% are just plain ordinary. I think this is mostly due to how we define average. The actual definition is: “a number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data, in particular the mode, median, or (most commonly) the mean, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the values in the set by their number.”

What does that mean? It means if we lined up a hundred people you would be number 50, or 49 or 51-ish. Basically, there would be 49 people better than you and 49 people worse than you. You’re in the middle. For those of you who are a middle child, think of it as your older sister is better than you, but you are better than your younger brother. Middle children tend to have better insight into the concept of being average.

Embrace Your Averageness!

Here’s the thing, being average has its perks! The Perks of being average:

  1. No one really expects anything from you. At best, the only hope is you just don’t screw stuff up!
  2. It’s super easy to keep your job when you’re average because all the focus goes to the ones that suck, and all the hard, important work goes to the ones who are great.
  3. Average people tend to live a happier life because of the lower expectations people have towards them.
  4. Being average, and embracing it, opens you up to way more friends and people to hang out with since most of the world is average. If you believe you are superior, it’s really slim pickings when it comes to folks you want to hang out with!
  5. The selection of mates for romantic relationships really increases! I mean imagine all those people with hickies you can choose from when you set your sights appropriately!

So, what if you’re just average? Well, you are. Or statistically thinking, you are more likely to be than anything else. And that’s okay. I mean, unless, you truly want to be great.

America’s Greatest Threat? Lack of Hourly Workers!

Businesses big and small are desperate currently for workers. Low-skill, semi-skilled, people who have no skill but are willing to be trained. The hourly rate is anywhere between $12-22/hr. I’ve spoken to companies in every market and industry, many of whom will tell me they’ll hire as many people as they can find, they just can’t find anyone!

Now, I don’t want to get into all the reasons of why organizations are struggling to find hourly workers. There are many, and it’s a complex situation that isn’t going away anytime soon. I want to focus on how not having enough hourly workers puts America at a competitive disadvantage in the world.

What Happens When America Can’t Hire Enough Workers?

First, organizations will do what it takes to actually hire talent. They increase wages and benefits, which initially seems like a big win for workers. Businesses will also raise prices, to pay for those additional expenses. Say, hello to inflation. The supply and demand dynamics of labor all happen fairly quickly.

Organizations will look to become more efficient and add technology that in the long term can be a better value than workers. Let’s be honest, this has been happening since the beginning of time, but in times of true pain in hiring, all this speeds up and happens faster than normal. Say hello to the robots!

Companies will offshore, more than they already do to countries with an abundance of hourly workers. China, Mexico, India, various countries in Africa if they can get politically stable, will gain millions of jobs from organizations looking to sell their products in America. Say hello to more jobs leaving our shores. Also, as we’ve seen with the Pandemic, this will cause he further issues with our supply chain in critical times.

What Should We Be Doing In America To Ensure We Have The Hourly Talent We Need?

Okay – I’ve got some ideas. Some you’ll agree with, some you’ll hate, but something has to change. American demographics are not changing. Our labor force is shrinking and we are getting older as a country. We have a crisis staring us in the face, and we are too divided to even see what’s really happening!

  1. Major investment into trades and apprenticeship programs at the high school and post-high school level. Free College? Screw that, rich folks can pay for college. Let’s have Free Trades and Apprenticeship programs. Let’s start these in Junior High and High Schools and continue them post-high school. Let’s have 22-year-old kids making $40-60K a year in skilled occupations.
  2. Blow up public education as we know it. It’s broken, can we all admit to this. About 70% of kids are not college kids, but we force them down the path of college. Let’s have public education that promotes our best and brightest, but also promotes kids who want to work with their hands, who want to work in the arts, etc. If we are the most powerful country on earth, why can’t we have multiple avenues for our kids, whether they are rich or poor?
  3. Encourage our children to once again be firefighters, police officers, home builders, big truck operators, cooks, delivery drivers, etc. Both boys and girls. I was struck when I was in Australia how many construction workers and road workers were female. You rarely see that in America. Our children should feel proud to have an occupation that is helping their community and others, but instead we, as parents, talk down these occupations. Our children are listening, constantly.
  4. Open the Mexican border. Uh oh, he didn’t just say that!? Yeah, you know who has millions of people who want the jobs that Americans don’t want? Mexico. If you don’t want to work that $15/hr job, step aside, there are people that do want those jobs. Plus, actually having a great labor force strengthens America! Would you rather have Mexican citizens come to America and make American products, or have American companies go to China and have the communist government of China make the products sent back to America and much of the profit goes to China or India, or somewhere else outside of America?
  5. Pay Equity laws limiting the spread of pay between the highest-paid executive and the lowest-paid employee. I’m not saying that entrepreneurs and executives don’t deserve great salaries for their efforts and their risks. They do. But should a CEO of a company make a $100M a year and the workers make $17/hr? That just seems a little bit out of line, right? Should a college football coach make $5M a year? It’s a stupid game. A game I love to watch, but come on! We’ve got a bit out of line with the haves and the have-nots.
  6. National Occupation Corp. What if every single American child upon graduating high school, put in one year of service into a select list of hourly occupations? Road workers, infrastructure projects, building affordable housing in their community, building parks, etc. Mormon kids do a two-year missionary to spread their word, and it doesn’t seem to harm them one bit, in fact, most would argue it actually helps them become better adults. Doing a national occupation corp would show some kids they actually love this type of work.
  7. End programs that encourage workers to not work. I’m hearing politicians talk about a 4th Stimulus! Are you kidding me! We don’t need more stimulus! We need people collecting unemployment and stimulus to prove they can’t find a job. They can’t get work. Because for the most part, it’s a lie! There is work everywhere! Our Unemployment Insurance system is broken and needs an overhaul.

How do you like those ideas!? A little GOP, a little Dem, a little socialism! If you’re a regular reader of the blog some of those ideas, coming from me, probably surprise you. This is how desperate I think this situation is! We are facing an economic meltdown in the future if we don’t fix this issue, that will make the great recession look like child’s play. America can not be without a great labor force, and right now, we are quickly trailing the rest of the world in the one thing we always hung our hard hat on.

Do people really not want to work?

On my way to work this morning, I saw seven businesses that had “Help Wanted” signs out front. The sign above is from a fast-food restaurant requesting you be nice for the few staff they have that are working their butts off to get you fat! Please be patient, your fries, double cheeseburger, and shake will be with you shortly.

I was on vacation for Spring Break (yeah, I said it), and traveled out to St. George, UT, and spent time outside hiking. Stopped at a McDonald’s for a Diet Coke on our way back from Zion and the manager was locking the doors at 2:30 pm in the afternoon. He apologized and said he normally has 50 employees on the schedule, but currently only has 16 and can’t keep the doors open!

Do People Really Not Want To Work? 

1st – Of Course People Don’t Want To Work!?! How stupid is this question!? (Wait, so let me get this straight, I don’t have to work? And I’ll get money? And I don’t have to pay rent? Okay, I’m not gonna work.)

2nd – Read #1.

3rd – If you give anyone the choice to not work, but still get their bills paid, they will not work. This is what is currently taking place in this great country of ours. In fact, some folks are making more not working than they were working. So, none of this is surprising!

The surprising part is politicians seem to be the only people alive, in America, who don’t understand that businesses can’t get people to come to work right now. They like to point to unemployment numbers, but those numbers are not telling the true story of what’s happening across the vast majority of industries.

Certain companies and industries got hurt super bad by Covid. We needed a policy that was sniper rifle accurate to help those people. Our government, instead gave us a nuclear bomb acting like everyone was in trouble. Which lands us in the position we are in right now. Too much work, not enough people who need to work at this moment.

No, Really!? Do People Not Want To Work? 

Here’s my take:

People want to do things that make them feel valued. Things that make them feel satisfied. Where they have some freedom of choice. And at the end of the day they feel safe, secure, and that they matter.

The vast majority of jobs from $10/hr to $20/hr can’t meet those basic needs.

If anyone of us was given the choice to not work and have our basic needs met, even for a short period of time (like the current Stimulus package) most would take it and do things they would rather be doing. Some will help others and volunteer. Some will take time for themselves. Some will actually do nothing and just wait until the time comes around when they have to go back to work to meet their basic needs.

So, basically, if you are hurting for workers and you pay below $20/hr, you are going to be in a world of hurt through at least this summer and maybe longer.

What Can You Do To Get More Workers? 

First, do everything in your power to keep the workers you have. Be kind. Be helpful. Be understanding. If they are overworked, be empathetic and try to do what you can to help them and their quality of life.

Second, don’t give new employees stuff you won’t give your current employees. I see this constantly. Oh! Hey, come work for us and we’ll give you a $500 signing bonus! But you won’t give your current employees a $500 retention or Hard Work bonus.

Third, stop thinking you are all that and a bag of chips! You can’t just throw up a Help Wanted sign and get workers. Be Better! Yep, that means you might actually have to put money into recruiting. Yes, hourly recruiting is as important as salaried recruiting and in many businesses more important. But, I find most organizations that hire a lot of hourly workers are vastly under-resourced when it comes to hourly recruiting as compared to salary recruiting.

Fourth, it’s time to take some chances with all those biases you have. Hire folks who test positive for weed. Hire folks who went to prison. Hire folks who aren’t your “Norm”. It’s time to take some chances, which really aren’t chances, but being more inclusive in hiring, but that’s an entire other post.

Finally, vote differently. If one employer is having a problem hiring, most likely that employer isn’t really that great to work for. If tens of thousands of employers are struggling to hire, something went wrong at a macro-scale. In terms of our current situation, we know exactly what went wrong. Bad policy is causing some short/long-term pain for employers.

Economics will eventually take care of this problem. Employers will pay more, offer more, change. This means we’ll all pay more for stuff we used to get cheaper. Some businesses will go under because you won’t agree that paying more is worth what they offer. This will cause workers to be unemployed. Making it easier for employers to hire at market wages. The law of supply and demand is undefeated.

 

The Bad Idea Trap!

2020 wasn’t the best year for a lot of people and as such we have so much excitement and anticipation for what 2021 will bring, but we are cautious. Already in 2021, we’ve seen some hangover of 2020!

We believe that 2021 and into the near future will be a bit of a struggle for most organizations. Some character building years ahead of us. We’ve come out of a decade of growth, pandemic hits, and now we have some rebuilding to do.

I truly believe when tough times hit, we see the best in people. As professionals, we work harder than ever to get to the success we want. We come up with all sorts of ideas and things to try to get us back on top. Therein lies the problem.

You see, there is this funny phenomenon that happens, that has now been proven in science. Turns out, during bad times, we come up with more bad ideas than good ideas!

Why do we have more bad ideas than good ideas during hard times?

A great historical example (that might have some context to 2020!) was during the 1920s and 1930s. Extremely hard economic times in Germany led to the rise of the Nazis. I think we can all agree, 100%, the Nazis were a very bad idea. But, because of the awful economy, many folks thought the Nazis were a great alternative.

Turns out, depressions, pandemics, social uprisings, etc. Lead us to more bad ideas than good ideas. We start grasping at straws, believing we are trying to help. We are testing out stuff to see what works when we think nothing is working when in reality, we might actually be starting something worse.

To go along with this, when times are awesome, no matter what you do, you probably are less likely to screw something up. “Hey, we did this crazy thing and our sales were up 3%!” Great, maybe if you didn’t do that crazy thing your sales would have been up 10%, but now you think that crazy idea, that bad idea, actually was positive!

Great times cover up many of our bad ideas. Bad times shine a giant light on our bad ideas.

Why am I talking about Bad Ideas? 

2021 might be a ripe time for bad ideas! We all will be pushed and stressed to make things happen. Leaders are going to look for ideas. It’s our job to come up with ideas. Most of those ideas are going to be bad. Sorry, but that’s just simple math. Most ideas are bad, some are good, very few are great.

In HR and TA we tend to believe that our ideas, our projects, our programs, etc. don’t have a giant impact on organizations. Actually, they have more impact than you think, but it’s mostly long-term impact, not short-term. We want these ideas to have an immediate impact, but people and culture tend to take time.

That is why, in 2021, we have to be very careful about the Bad Idea Trap.

I want you to go out and test and try things but move a bit more cautiously out of the gate. Be willing to shut things down quicker. Be more aware of the timing and how your organization is doing. If your organization is killing it, great! Go have some fun, break some things! If your organization isn’t doing well, slow down, take your time, don’t allow yourself to be in a rush, even though it’s going to feel like you should be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a large corporate meeting room with a bunch of people and some well-meaning executive starts off with “there are no bad ideas! Let me have them all!” Yes, there are bad ideas and the worse idea is a bad idea that is chosen to move forward!

Maybe our 2021 Slogan in HR and TA should be “Yes, there are Bad Ideas!”