Preventing Skilled Labor Turnover

Turnover is a costly issue that affects all industries, but especially skilled labor sectors. There’s a huge gap in the skilled labor market right now and preventing turnover is important.

Plumbers, electricians, roofers, floorers, truck drivers..etc are leaving the field faster than new individuals are entering it. The list of skilled labor fields that are facing a gap has authors like Jeff Cox of CNBC sounding the alarm on the U.S. labor shortage .

There are definite challenges to this gap.  The good news is there’s also key steps to take now that will help reduce turnover.

Begin by focusing your recruiting efforts on rural communities.

In rural communities, a mine of untapped skilled laborers exist. They graduate from trade schools with a sincere desire to make a career out of being an electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician, but then they find a difficult field of dirty work and low pay.   They can’t afford to leave the area in search of work. The solution? Recruit them and provide market leading wages. This will take some unique tactics. so if you want to know how to recruit a skilled laborer from a rural community that will stay, check out recruiting in rural communities.

Offer truly competitive wages.

You can’t operate your business without skilled labor, so you’ve got to make sure they’re not going to jump ship. Think of it this way: the cost of losing an employee is anywhere from .5-1.25 their annual salary.

When you think you can’t afford to pay someone a reasonable salary, you’re going to be wasting money hiring them for less than they are worth. Don’t lag behind industry pay trends. Want a salary analysis done? Contact us to get started.

Once you’ve got your position filled, keep the employee engaged.

There’s not a lot of engagement in the workforce today and a lot of “experts” like to say this is just because the “millennial” generation is “bad” and “unwilling to work.” This isn’t the case, the world is full of brilliant and hard-working individuals of all ages–it’s a matter of finding them and putting them to work. Sure, you might be thinking, this is simple to say, but impossible to do. If you’re struggling to find the right trade people, consider investing in a recruiter that specializes in trade-labor recruiting or in a temp agency.

Realize and react to the new job market.

For generations, employers have had the upper hand of hiring: they’ve had access to more employees than they needed. Naturally, this led to employees fighting for jobs and put employers in the position of “customer.” However, as of 2018, the tables have turned. There are now more job openings than workers to fill them.

Because of this change, employers need to realize that this puts employees in the position of power. So, providing realistically valuable reasons to work for you, is a basic requirement, not a favor to employees.

This may shift again in favor of employers very soon, but right now the market change means stepping up your value as an employer.  By increasing your value proposition, you will find and skilled labor that will make a difference in your business.

Build loyalty and stop expecting it.

The reason that it’s so hard to keep employees isn’t just because of a paycheck: employees leave for many reasons. Often, skilled labor leaves for reasons that may surprise you. Check out these Reasons that people leave their jobs.

The biggest part of the workforce as of 2018 is the millennial workforce.  They get a bad wrap, but realistically, these individuals grew up seeing their parents laid off and their co-workers fired as soon as the ROI didn’t meet projections and needs.

This is business: you understand that and now the employee does too. So, you can’t expect instant, undying loyalty when you don’t provide this in return. Building loyalty means providing value and culture and it means being different than your competitor. When you know what your employee values, you can target your employee and build loyalty. 

This list may seem overwhelming because it includes making many changes that will take time. However, if you start right now, tackling the problem that exists you will see improvement in turnover rates. In the long-run, this approach will make a difference for you and your business.

Recruiting in Rural Communities

Recruiting in rural communities has many benefits. Rural communities are an excellent resource for skilled labor. They are primary locations for tech schools and career colleges. Additionally, rural communities are full of individuals who lack decent job opportunities.

These communities also come with a very special set of challenges.

Unwillingness to travel.

Within these small communities the lack of career opportunities can stagnate the local economy. As a result, many individuals do not have the ability to travel. Those that do have the ability to travel may remain because they have family obligations.

So, finding people that will travel may be difficult. To solve this challenge, it’s important to ask about a candidate’s willingness and ability to travel. If a good candidate is willing to travel, but unable, then the company has a choice: Dismiss a great candidate or find ways to make travel possible.

Reduced or limited access to technology.

In rural cities, your ideal candidates may not connect to traditional recruiting mediums. This is especially true for skilled laborers. You will need to use a process of trial-and-error to recruit these candidates. In some cases, traditional job boards may yield excellent results.  In other cases, you may find you need to go to local community organizations for results.

Aging populations.

When a city is not economically growing, the population will naturally decline.  This is because working-age residents will consistently be leaving in search of lucrative opportunities. So, most rural communities will have individuals who have decided to retire and are past the years in which they want to work.

Skilled labor often requires heavy manual labor. So, some individuals that still want to work may be interested, but then find that they cannot keep up with the physical demands of the position. REMEMBER THIS: There will always be exceptions.  Be open to having a lot of great older candidates.

Also, be open and honest about the job expectations . Many candidates will hear about the level of physical work required and decide they cannot take on this heavy work. As long as you communicate realistic job expectations, the candidates that take on the labor will likely be able to perform the work, regardless of their age.

Complex social infrastructure that provides barriers to making contact with candidates.

This challenge is actually a huge benefit to the recruiter. In most cases, rural cities are small and close-knit. This means that a candidate will be difficult to reach, unless you go through the appropriate social mediums. Take some time to feel out the social atmosphere where you are recruiting. You may find that the fastest way to recruit is by going to a networking event or holding open interviews, rather than sending emails.

So, beyond facing these key community challenges, there are tips and tricks you can use to get ahead in the recruiting game.

Don’t forget these extra nuggets when you recruit in rural communities:

1. Contact the educational centers and tech colleges.
2. Treat your newly graduated candidates well.
3. Hold open-interviews in community areas.
4. Be willing to advertise with unconventional tactics: bars, gyms, local agencies, churches, and strategic community partners.
5. Always check to see how word-of-mouth travels and use this knowledge to your advantage.
6. Go to festivals, social clubs, and networking events.
7. Be transparent about what the job requires: set realistic expectations for all candidates.
8. Look for entrepreneurs.  These individuals have gone into their field because they intended for it to be a lifestyle.  If your goal is to find people who won’t leave your company because they got a “cushy” office job, then you want to look for people that are committed to the work they do.
9. Be ready to help with travel expenses for those that can’t travel, but are willing to travel.
10. Prepare retention strategies in advance: contracts, incentives, and flexible scheduling.