Life’s Tough, But It Evens Out

In the realm of motivational quotes, one has continually stuck with me: “It’s hard, but it’s fair.” An older football coach used it to fire up his players, but it speaks volumes about life today.

The coach’s son, Toler Jr., eloquently defines the meaning of the phrase:

“It’s about sacrifice. It means that if you work hard, at the end of the day, fairness aligns with your efforts. It’s about investing time and readiness for the opportunities.”

We all think our parents are hard on us growing up.  I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7am, after I was out to late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out.  He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices.  If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school.  He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing – one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.

In my role as an HR professional, I witness this every day in the workforce. There are those who consistently dedicate themselves without expecting special treatment. Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks. Often, they depart, perceiving unfair treatment, and move between jobs, slowly learning the importance of effort and time investment. In my three decades in HR, genuine hard workers rarely face injustice. Occasionally, undeserving individuals might receive promotions, but the hard workers usually secure the better end of the deal.

As a parent, I hope I can teach my sons this lesson: Life is inherently challenging, but commitment and hard work pave the path to fairness.

Your Weekly Dose of HR Technology: @Workday and AI #HRTechConf

This week on The Weekly Dose, I’m going to discuss some recent announcements from Workday around some AI functionality they’ve launched. Workday might be the biggest brand in HR. You would have had to been completely sleeping through the past twenty years not to understand the giant impact Workday has made in HR Technology. There might not be another single brand in HR Tech that has taken more overall market share in the past couple of decades than Workday.

I think it’s important to have a productive conversation around Workday because of how many users use Workday in HR, Learning, and TA on a daily basis. Large HCM technology runs most HR shops across the globe, and while they might be as nimble as HR startups, they do the vast majority of blocking and tackling in HR.

In January, when ChatGPT and Generative AI became the most talked about topic of the year, my feeling then, and now, was that we would really have to wait and see how companies like Workday build out this new AI technology within the systems and processes we use every day. This is truly how most of us will experience AI, so I’m excited to see Workday’s recent announcements because this will really be the future of HR Technology for most of us.

What are the big Workday AI announcements?

  • “Ask Workday” – one of the major announcements that will feel most familiar to many of us is the Ask Workday feature built on Generative AI. In an everyday sense of how most users use HR Technology, this feature, to me, is how I imagined AI would impact us! Having a hiring manager ask something like, “What is the activity on my open jobs?” Instead of waiting to get a response from a recruiter, the hiring manager can get a real-time data-driven narrative, which is truly a game changer. But it’s more than that because this is also something employees can use to shape their career path, etc.
  • “Manager Insights Hub” – This is a new feature that truly uses the power of AI and Workday’s data insights. This is a completely integrated Manager portal that lets any manager of people look at employee goals, development plans, feedback, and other information in a single integrated page. This is a feature completely designed to solve one of the major deficits we see in so many organizations – making our leaders better! This feature also helps the manager and employee create a growth plan.
  • Automatically create Job Descriptions from Workday’s LLM, create policies, how-to guides, etc. This is what so many of us expected from GPT-like AI built into our HR systems, so this wasn’t unexpected, but it’s nice to see how quickly some of this tech has been rolled out and able to be used in real-world everyday HR use cases.

While just a start, it shows how serious Workday is at moving as fast as they can to leverage this new technology and help HR teams become more productive. I’m excited to see the direction they continue to evolve this technology around things like skills measuring, matching of skills to jobs, and the potential for screening both candidates and internal candidates to jobs.

It’s clear from these recent announcements that we should be prepared to see ongoing announcements coming from the large HCM players in our space. AI is transforming all of our functional systems and technology, and Workday is moving fast to take advantage of the productivity gains that can be made, but also how AI can transform your HR practice across the enterprise.

The Biggest Trends in Recruiting Technology in 2023! #HRTechConf

Next week, my good friend and super smart lady, Madeline Laurano, and I will be leading a session at The HR Technology Conference and Expo in Vegas. We did a short video to give you a sneak preview of what to expect:

The Great Duo in TA Tech History

Also, I’ll be introducing “Tim Sackett’s TA Technology Product of the Year!” sponsored by Aptitude Research! I’m dropping this on Madeline right now – she didn’t even know I was going to do this! You have to come to see who and what it will be!

If you can’t be in Vegas, I’ll announce it right here on the morning of Friday,hr t October 13th! Stay Tuned!

The Ball Will Always Find You!

There is a baseball metaphor about the ball finding you. Basically, if you are unprepared or you are scared, that’s precisely when the ball will find you! The moment you least want the ball to come to you is when the ball is hit at you. I’ve heard coaches say this statement my entire life being around baseball.

Life works like this as well.

The one time when you go into the office, and you’re not really prepared for your job or function is the day you’ll be called into an emergency meeting with the CEO! The one question you don’t prepare to be asked will be the one that will be asked.

So, how do you prepare yourself for being unprepared?

1. Acknowledge it when it comes.

So often, we want to try and fake our way through something we weren’t prepared for, but it shows. We aren’t really fooling anyone but ourselves. So, acknowledge it. You know, that’s a great question you asked. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment, but let me do some research and come back to you with a thorough answer.

2. Redirect the conversation to what you do know.

This isn’t perfect because a savvy executive will come back to the original question, but 60% of the time, it works every time! “That’s a great question. What I focused on were these factors, which, in my estimation, is what we need. I believe…”

3. Answer another question like you’re answering their question.

This is risky, but politicians use this tactic all the time, and it mostly works because the person asking the question is sure you answered their question or not, and they don’t want to sound dumb by asking it again, thinking you answered it! Tim, can you give me some insight into how much we’ll be over budget in TA by the end of the year? “Sure, first, it’s amazing the progress we’ve made. At the beginning of the year, we had no idea we’d be 75% over our planned hiring, and the team has been amazing in reaching that goal. In the second half of the year, we see hiring beginning to slow, and we are anticipating that in Q1 of 2024, we’ll be back up to normal.” Then you just shut up or ask if anyone else has any other questions! Bonus points if you actually go back at them during your answer with some verbal ques like, “You understand, right?” Of course, they’ll be nodding yes! At that point, they will never follow up with another question!

4. Bluff.

Answer the question, even though you don’t really know the answer, and hope and pray they also don’t know the answer! I’ve seen way too many people in my career try and look like a fool. I find that very few executives ask a question they don’t have some semblance of an answer to already. They are just checking to see if you’re on your game and have the answer. So, I do not recommend bluffing. This is usually a low-performer behavior that is probably getting fired soon anyway, and they’re desperate!

5. Open the conversation up to the broader audience or the person who asked the question.

This strategy works really well if you have a strong relationship and trust with the person or people you’re speaking with. In this tactic, you basically acknowledge you don’t know but come back and see if anyone knows or has a strong opinion. You are still driving the conversation and asking questions, which puts you in an authority position, so you don’t look weak by not knowing the answer to the question being asked. “That’s a great question. I actually don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering if anyone else in the room does. Or does anyone have a feeling on what this might look like?” At this point, you could offer up an educated guess as to what you believe it to be if no one else has anything and agree to come back with some more specific information.

Professionally, the ball is going to find you whether you are ready for it or not. We all hope that we will be prepared and ready, but that’s not always the case. Your next reaction is critical to how others will end up viewing you. The more confident you are in your ability and performance, the easier it is to say you just don’t know. Unfortunately, so many times throughout our careers, we get caught off guard, and it might be during a time when our confidence isn’t super high, and that opens us up to trying to make something up on the fly and opening ourselves up to being viewed as a fool.

The UAW is making its last stand, but really it’s already dead!

I’ve never been a fan of unions. I grew up with many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents who belonged to unions. One of my first jobs forced me to join a union and pay dues. Since I was “summer help,” I had to pay full union dues, but I got no protections or benefits from the union. I was told that specifically. I was then repeatedly threatened by union members to slow down my work, even though I was struggling to barely keep up with what was expected.

In Michigan, you are surrounded by organized labor, mostly UAW. Generations are raised only knowing two sides: labor and management. Kind of reminds you of a two-party system in politics, almost like the two are working together to keep everyone in line!

The reality is that we once lived in a time when companies took advantage of workers and did horrible things—locked workers in unsafe working environments. Paid low wages, one could barely survive. Unions had a time and place when they protected workers. Unions no longer do that. Labor is too competitive. The Big 3 vehicle companies now struggle to hire hourly workers. They are getting their lunch handed to them by foreign manufacturers and Tesla.

Union membership is at an all-time low, and it continues to decrease and will decrease because Unions have reached the point where they no longer make companies competitive. In fact, they work in the exact opposite direction. They work to make corporations as least competitive as they can make them without going under, and in many cases, they put them under.

We used to have strikes when companies treated workers like shit. Unions then began to realize strikes aren’t good for business, which is why you barely see them happen anymore. You cost millions, if not billions of dollars, to the companies you are supposed to be partnering with, and that makes the next negotiation really hard. Kind of hard to negotiate for more when there isn’t more.

The UAW knows this, but when you have union leaders who are constantly stealing union dues and doing other bad stuff, you have to take the focus off of your own bad deeds and do something spectacularly stupid, like striking an industry that is going through a major transformation.

But Tim! These CEOs are making millions of dollars per year!

Yep. They are. Do I think that’s right? In some cases, maybe. In most cases, no way. It’s outrageous. Two wrongs don’t make a right, my grandma always said.

We tend to forget that a hundred years ago, when you worked until you were 65, if you lived that long, a company could afford to pay you a generous retirement because if you did make it to retirement, you were most likely dead soon after. That’s a reality. Today, if you retire after thirty years of working an hourly job, you’ll probably live another thirty. Hello, Teacher’s Unions have entered the chat…

Organizations. Companies. Society. Can not survive on that math. It turns upside down where you know 80 cents of every school budgeted dollar going to pay for retirement and benefits of teachers and not educating kids.

What’s the solution? Hell, if I know, but it’s not continuing down this path, thinking that it’s all just magically going to work out in the end. News Flash – it won’t. It ends in bankruptcy. The UAW will eventually bankrupt the Big 3, and all those members and former members who are getting benefits will be high left and dry. I know this because this cycle continues to repeat itself with unions. This is why unions are dying across the world. The system doesn’t work.

The UAW is the walking dead at this point. They fail to realize that the entire auto industry is going through fundamental change, and because these companies have seen record profits, they feel like it’s time for them to get some, which I can understand the desire for. But getting what they are asking for now will hasten the inevitable.

Unions, at one point, could claim they have the most productive and best-trained workers. They can no longer claim this and haven’t been able to in a long time. Now, all they can claim is they have the most entitled workers. I don’t blame the workers. They’ve been taught this by a corrupt complex of people who got rich off their labor. No, not management and CEOs, but their own union leadership.

At some point, the strike will stop. The UAW will claim victory. The truth is they are a dying vestige of time long gone. Because of demographics, workers have the power and will continue to have the power for a long time. Younger generations don’t believe they need older people to represent their best interests for a portion of their wages. That concept seems silly to them. Why give someone else your money when you have the power?

I’m Back!!!

Some of you might have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I was writing my second book, The Talent Fix, Vol. 2! The new book should be released in April 2024, and the plan is to launch it at the SHRM Talent Conference in Las Vegas!

Last week, I was in Nashville at RecFest USA – the first time RecFest has come to America. RecFest is a large outdoor recruiting festival, and it’s such a fun and interactive event. I can’t wait for next year’s event, and I’ll definitely be taking my full team to Nashville to experience RecFest!

What was the tea coming out of RecFest?

  • Recruiters and Recruiting leaders out of work – This was a little strange for me to hear because in reality, this is very industry-specific. The tech industry has gotten hit hard with layoffs, and TA teams are some of the first to go. At the same time, many of those companies had TA teams that were way too big for the hiring they were doing. So, some of this is simple right-sizing. The problem is, you had recruiters making $150-$200K, and they honestly believe they are worth that much. They aren’t. The downturn is hard on people who were making monopoly money and not really performing at that level.
  • AI was all the talk, but it was mostly talk. My friend Matt Charney says roughly 69% of TA teams currently do not have AI in their recruiting tech stack. I think some of their vendors would disagree with this as most vendors are utilizing machine learning, but the tech nerds would argue this isn’t really AI! AI will transform how we recruit talent, but this will be an evolution that will take years, and most of the true AI will be buried in your tech in a way you won’t even notice most of the tactical pieces of recruiting going away until one day you wake up and we no longer do tactical work in recruiting.
  • There’s a major Candidate and Employer Disconnect. I ran across a GenZ/Millennial candidate panel, and it was laughable listening to it. Candidates complain that they get ghosted and don’t get great feedback. They also are unapologetic about applying for 300 positions in 30 minutes. TA pros complain about being ghosted and do not understand why candidates don’t reply to their spam emails. The Talent Board still shows that 47% of candidates still don’t even get dispositioned for the positions they apply for. Both sides feel wronged, and neither side is willing to take any responsibility for the behaviors. All this means is that the candidates who act professional and the TA pros who act professional will stand out and be rare in today’s world.
  • There is still a lot of talk about DEI, but the talk is changing. If we are honest with each other, the entire DEI talk began as simply we need more black faces in our organization. That started probably twenty years ago. Since then, the world has changed a bunch, and the conversation amongst HR and TA pros has evolved, but in reality, most of the C-suite still sees this as counting faces. The faces might have expanded to include more, but we still are stuck in so many areas. We still are not willing to use data around DEI and have real conversations about what is possible and what is just posturing.
  • Everyone is a unique and special butterfly. Which, for all intents and purposes, makes no one unique and special. We now have Trans Recruiters and Nero-divergent Recruiters and Furry Recruiters and fill in the blank of whatever you are recruiter. If you are a Gay Recruiter today, sorry, you’re just a recruiter! Oh wait, that’s right, we are all just recruiters! Honestly, the next evolution is this will be my AI telling me what kind of recruiter they are! Just fucking recruit! Okay, I say this, but honestly, this is also the solution to more inclusive recruiting. Want more female engineers? Hire females to recruit engineers. Want more Black Sales Reps? Hire Black Recruiters to recruit your sales reps. Want more military hires? Hire former military professionals and teach them how to recruit. We aren’t launching spy balloons, people. This isn’t that hard!
  • Technology recruiting vendors are currently struggling to make their numbers. So, why should you care? I love to get a bargain, and right now you can get a bargain! If you’re super smart, you’ll sign a multi-year contract and lock that bargain in for when it will no longer be a bargain! Right now, you have some major negotiating power if you are in the market for technology or if you’re getting pushed to sign your next contract. Vendors are super competitive with their pricing at this moment.

That’s what I got today.

Moving forward for the rest of the year, I’m going to be hitting the reviews and updates hard on the recruiting technology market. There’s a lot of stuff being developed and the space is moving really fast again with AI development, so my hope is I can help keep you all informed on what’s new and hot and worth your money!

Welcome back!

The #1 Trend in HR, in the world, is the Hiring Crisis!

For many of us, it probably feels like we’ve been in a staffing crisis for half a decade. Before the pandemic, it was very hard to hire and then the pandemic, in many ways, made it even more difficult. The reality, though, is the current US staffing crisis is hitting employers unevenly.

Prior to 2019-2020, the staffing crisis was thought to be in the technology space, primarily. But if you are in healthcare, trucking, or skilled trades hiring you also felt that crisis in a big way. Today, technology doesn’t seem like it’s in a crisis, but it’s still hard to hire great tech talent. Healthcare is still hurting, no one can find teachers, local, state, and federal government can’t hire, the military is having massive trouble hiring civilians, and hospitality and dining are getting killed.

It’s 2023 and we have a massive hiring crisis that most non-HR and Talent pros don’t understand because the media doesn’t talk about the reality. If it bleeds, it leads, so let’s talk about MASSIVE LAYOFFS! In reality, layoffs are at a predictable historical amount as compared to other years. We don’t have a layoff problem, we have certain industries that overhired for years using free money and banker came calling.

I did a webcast a few weeks ago on my mid-year HR trends. My friends, Madeline Laurano and Kyle Lagunas, are doing their mid-year trend webinar today. Neither of us talked about a trend being a hiring crisis! Why?

A crisis is something that is short-term in nature. We’ll find a solution and we’ll solve our crisis. Our hiring issues are not short-term in nature. Hiring was hard. It’s getting harder. It will continue to get harder. It will ultimately cost our economy because we don’t have enough workers. Politicians don’t care. They don’t care because they love having 9 million open jobs. You know what a politician doesn’t want to see, no jobs open! Those politicians, regardless of party, lose their re-election.

There is no end in sight to how hard it is to hire great talent!

Our demographics are working against us. We are not making enough humans to replace the workers we are losing. There are only 3 potential solutions that I can think of:

1 – Make more babies! Like, start paying your employees to go home and have sex and make babies! Heck let them have sex in the stairwells like they did at Uber! Uber got crushed for what might be the best replacement strategy of all time. I’m only partly joking. Our younger workers are not having enough babies and it’s mostly because of how expensive it is.

2- Immigration reform! This is another tough one because neither Democrats nor GOP want to tackle this. It’s a lose-lose situation. But we need many more skilled and unskilled immigrants let into this country! We need this changed today. We need our CEOs of companies to rattle politicians’ cages and start putting money toward those politicians who will actually do something.

3 – Technology/Automation/Robots! This is already happening in the natural course of things. We hear how AI will kill us and save us every day. What we need it to do is make one human into 2 or 3 humans. The promise of 10X humans is a great story, but I’ll take a 2X human first!

There will be winners and losers in this crisis.

Some organizations will take a victors mentality to this fight and find ways to attract and hire more talent. They build better hiring machines. They’ll lay out a better vision for their employees who will stay longer and work harder. They experiment more in delivering the experiences that both candidates and employees desire.

If you’re in HR and TA right now you need to make one thing very clear to your organization. There is a big problem in our world. There isn’t enough talent to go around. Our battle is to get our fair share of talent and hang on to the talent we have. That is the only battle we care about. That is the only “trend” that matters.

The Reason You Got Ghosted by a Candidate!

Yesterday I answered a question from a candidate about why an employer ghosted them after their interview. Many readers were upset because they were also getting ghosted by candidates. In fact, like all the time, way more than then they would ever ghost a candidate. Oh, two wrongs do make a right!

All ghosting is sh*tty behavior by candidates and by those of us who hire. Period.

The reality is that this is hard to admit, and as a professional, we own a portion of the candidate ghosting. Are candidates awful for doing it in the first place? Yes. I will not let them off the hook. But I also only control what I can control, and that is my process, behaviors, etc.

Why are candidates ghosting us?

1. We are moving too fast. Wait, what?! We are told to move fast because that’s what candidates want!? Yes, but when you move so fast, the candidates don’t really know you (your company and you personally), the job, the boss, or the reasons why they should come and interview. It all doesn’t seem real. So, it becomes easy to just not show up. (Que Taylor Swift – We need to slow down!)

2. We aren’t giving candidates a way to easily tell us they moved on with another offer. Hourly candidates, especially, are moving fast and have multiple offers. You might have scheduled them for an interview later in the week, but they have already decided to go with another offer. While we gave them instructions on where to go and when we could have made it easier for them to opt out. Many organizations are using auto-scheduling tools like Paradox, which sends reminders and lets candidates choose to reschedule or cancel via text. Those organizations get significantly less ghosting!

3. We believe that once a candidate schedules an interview, our job is done. The most powerful human emotion in existence is being wanted by others. Candidates come to you for a number of reasons, all of which they can most likely get from someone else as well. But, you showing them more desirable than someone else is a key to great talent attraction. You still need to do that with your messaging even after the interview is scheduled.

4. We allow it to happen without any ramifications. (Okay, this might be a bit aggressive!) What if, every time a candidate ghosted you for an interview, you posted their picture and details on social media!? Yikes! Right?! “This is Tim Sackett, a cute redhead. He ghosted us for an interview yesterday at 3 pm. If you see him, tell him we are thinking about him!” Do you think it would get noticed? Heck, yes, it would!

5. We are making it too easy for candidates to interview. This is a catch-22. We need talent, so we reduce every roadblock possible for candidates. It’s so easy. Most don’t care if they burn the bridge or not. That is truly why employee referrals are so valuable for most employers. Referrals are far less likely to burn a bridge. That might be a trick to use. Ask a candidate: Do you know anyone at our company? Begin to tie the personal connection back to them, and they will be far less likely to ghost. Also, make it super hard to get an interview, and people will hold it as a higher value! “Only 1% of people who apply to our company ever get an interview! it’s a rare thing we offer to only the top candidates.” If you knew that was the case, you would show up for that interview!

I think most of the candidate ghosting is truly reflective of the poor morals and values of the people who are doing it. You made a commitment to someone. You keep that commitment, or at the “very” least, you inform that person you will no longer be able to keep that commitment. It’s a pretty basic human condition. Those who ghost probably had crappy parents and mentors in their life who didn’t teach them the basics. I’ve never once spoken to or met an upstanding individual who thought highly of themselves that would ghost. High-quality people don’t ghost. Low-quality people do.

People don’t like to hear that. They want to talk about circumstances and bad employers, etc. The reality is high-quality people will contact someone and let them know they no longer want to be considered, regardless of how crappy the employer may or may not be. Low-quality people just don’t show up. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. I’m just telling you the truth. You already know.

If you’re an employer and you ghost candidates after interviews – You (not your organization). You, personally, are of low quality, just like the candidates who ghost you. I don’t like to hire low-quality people. But I also want to give every opportunity for a low-quality person to become a high-quality person.

A 30-Minute Commute is all Most Employees Are Willing to Make

We all kind of know this fact. Once you get more than 30 minutes away from your job, no matter how you actually come to work, it starts to feel like a chore. You begin to hate the commute. Doesn’t matter if you drive, take a train, walk, etc. 30 minutes, one-way, is our max!

It’s called Marchetti’s Constant: 

Marchetti’s constant is the average time spent by a person commuting each day, which is approximately one hour. It is named after Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti, though Marchetti himself attributed the “one-hour” finding to transportation analyst and engineer Yacov Zahavi.[1] Marchetti posits that although forms of urban planning and transport may change, and although some live in villages and others in cities, people gradually adjust their lives to their conditions (including the location of their homes relative to their workplace) such that the average travel time stays approximately constant.

I can’t tell you how many times, as a Recruiter, I was talked into believing this wasn’t true by a candidate who then screwed me by ghosting on an interview after driving to the location and seeing it was too long, declining an offer late, started the job but then quickly left because the commute was too long, or we had to over-compensate to make up for the time the person spent on the commute.

Probably one out of one hundred people can actually take a longer commute and live with it. 99% of people will eventually crack if the commute is over thirty minutes. So, what does this mean for us trying to attract talent to our organizations? There are certain locations in the U.S. that are much easier to have a thirty-minute commute than others:

On average, large metro areas with the shortage commute time:

  1. Grand Rapids, MI
  2. Rochester, NY
  3. Buffalo, NY
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Salt Lake City, UT
  6. Kansas City, MO
  7. Milwaukee, WI
  8. Louisville, KY
  9. Hartford, CT
  10. Memphis, TN

All of these metro areas have the majority of their citizens with a commute time under 30 minutes.

Who has the worst commute times? Think about the largest metro areas, even when you take into account their transit options: New York, San Francisco, D.C., Philly, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, etc.

So, it’s thirty minutes one-way or one hour per day, or five hours per week, that the average person is willing to commute. I wonder if this plays itself out when you begin to factor in work-from-home options.

Let’s say you ask someone to commute one hour each way, two hours per day, but you let them work from home two days per week. Total commute time is still more at six hours per week, but would that make a difference enough to retrain and attract more talent to your organization? I have a feeling it would. It’s worth a test for those who have longer commutes at your work location.

Also, I have seen this done by any company, but I would love to see turnover data by commute time! I have seen data on hourly worker turnover, and it’s amazing to see the differences by miles from a worksite in a radiant pattern. Every mile you get farther from the work site, the turnover increases exponentially until you get to about five miles, where it skyrockets. So, we know if you hire hourly, low-skilled workers, your best bet for retention is less than five miles from your location (this also is about a 15-minute commute – car, public, walking, bike, etc.).

So often, we want to focus on the stuff we control versus stuff the candidate or employee can control, but we think it’s ‘their’ decision. The problem is we allow people to make bad decisions and don’t think it will affect us, but it does in high turnover. All things being equal, or close to equal with candidates, take the one with the shorter total commute!

Do People Really Want to Work? (Rants from GenX!)

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 to 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 in Las Vegas last week for the SHRM Annual Conference. 25,000 HR professionals. It was giant. I spoke to hundreds of HR leaders and pros. Every. Single. One. of the HR professionals I met was having pain trying to hire and retain talent.

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 a choice not to work but still get their bills paid, they will not work! This is what is currently taking place in this great country of ours. 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. Unemployment is still at historically low numbers, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Demographics are working against us, and we are losing people faster than we can replace them at a macro level.

We have a government, both sides, that can’t figure out better immigration policy, while we are surpassed by other rich countries who are now being super aggressive in the talent game. Both Dems and the GOP are lost when it comes to immigration. We need workers!

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. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t have those jobs. We should. It’s just complex to try to sell someone in that level of job they are truly valued.

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 what happened with the Stimulus package during Covid), 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 for a long time. We don’t have enough humans to do no-skill, low-skill work in the U.S., and ChaptGPT isn’t doing those jobs, either!

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. Do anything possible to give them some flexibility! Besides more money, it’s the one thing they want, and most people who make less than $20/hr never get the option of flexibility in their work. So, even small options are helpful.

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. Great talent attraction is about keeping your great talent first.

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 essential 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 another 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, and 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.