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I had a profound realization the other day. A vast number of young people entering the workforce are the same age as my daughter. This observation has made me feel old and questioning how in touch I am with the younger generation. If you asked my children, they would tell you I am most certainly out of touch. I don’t feel old, but the stories about my first jobs place me squarely in the age when OSHA was more of a suggestion than a powerful regulatory entity. We live in a drastically different world, and I can’t help but wonder if other company’s human resource managers aren’t also struggling to understand the next generation.

Over the past 24 months it seems like we have hiked our wages to stay competitive and poured money into advertising campaigns to attract new hires. All of this has yielded little to no results. The common questions I hear us ask are, Where are all the good workers? Why doesn’t anyone want to work anymore? How much do we have to pay to get someone through the door? Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions. We know where everyone is, and how to reach them. Do people actually not want to work? Maybe this has nothing to do with pay at all.

To stay in touch with world around me, I have been reading The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Mitch Jackson. The book makes the point that we have a generation so saturated in advertising that companies, brands, and content must be genuinely authentic in order to garner any sort attention. There must be a personal connection or company culture that attracts the audience. I can’t help but wonder if this is a problem we face in recruiting. We associate a job with dollars per hour, health insurance, 401K, and maybe some time off. In fact, that seems to be what almost all jobs offer. Are these job postings mind numbingly tedious to our children?

Maybe in addition to wages and benefits, kids want to be happy where they work, have ample amounts of time off, or know that their employer truly cares about them. Richard Branson of Virgin Group famously said, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” Since having hired literally hundreds of young people, I’ve noticed that I need to treat them differently than my first bosses ever treated me. These are no longer kids who have been working since they were 14. Rather, they are young adults entering the workforce with little to no real-life experiences. Looking out for them and taking an active interest in their personal lives goes a long way in gaining loyalty.

Still, all of this does not answer the question of how to attract new recruits. However, I do believe that this is just like the sales process. We must first listen to our prospective customers so that we might learn what their needs and problems are. Then we can find a way to create a compensation package that will answer those needs and address those problems.  I don’t have the answers, but I intend on researching this further.

What are your thoughts? Have you had any success in attracting enough help recently? If you happen to be a younger person who has stumbled across this post, I encourage you to share your viewpoint on today’s job market. What sort of employer would you like to work for? What kind of future do you want to create for yourself and your family? Please keep the discussion polite and professional. Any comments with obscene language, racist, or sexist overtones will not be posted.

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Written by: Chris Sherman

Date: November 3rd 2021

Chris Sherman

recruiting campaigns hiring new candidates young workforce hiring employees

Post Author: Chris Sherman

Chris grew up in the Lakes Area and in 2005 began studying Lean Manufacturing. After 10 years in industrial manufacturing, he had passed his Bronze Level exam through the Shingo Prize Institute, redesigned several production processes, and led numerous technology upgrades. Since then, Chris has focused on introducing Lean principles to clients in the agricultural, and construction trade industries.

At the same time, Chris also pursued his formal education, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rasmussen College of Fargo. Ultimately, he received his MBA from Benedictine University in 2016. Currently, Chris lives in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota with his wife and four children. He sat on the board of directors for the Becker County Economic Development Authority and the county’s Housing Authority for six years. He served as the board president until the end of his term in 2020.

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