Is automation here to stay?

A few years ago I took a short flight from Atlanta, GA to KC. I bought the ticket online, and was dropped off at the airport. I had an interesting thought, and decided to try an experiment. I wanted to see if I could go from Atlanta to Kansas City and not speak to anybody, not have any human interaction. Now, I am by nature a friendly person and I hate the idea of being rude, so I set a couple of rules. First of all, I couldn’t be rude. If someone spoke to me, I had to respond. Secondly, I had to act normal. In other words, I had to be in the crowd. I couldn’t isolate myself. Basically I wanted to see if I could be alone in a group of people.

Well, I got to the airport, and scanned my credit card. My boarding pass printed, I went to my gate, got up when my section was called, nodded to the attendant when my ticket was scanned, and got on the plane. The flight took off. The only time I spoke with anyone was when I answered that I wanted a Coke to drink, and (remember my rule about being rude), I said “Thank you”. That’s it. The plane landed, and I left the airport without speaking a word to anyone.

It seems like transactions without human interaction are becoming commonplace. I can go to Wal-mart and go through the self checkout lane. It is faster, more convenient, and I don’t have to wait in line. I can essentially visit the store without talking to a single person.

There is one exception however. I like to shop at Trader Joes. Not just because of their products, but because I am a person there. If I look the least bit confused, an employee is asking if they can help. As I stand looking at the wine selection, an employee will start a conversation with me, tell me what wines they enjoy, find out my tastes and make suggestions. If I ask if a particular food is good, they will tear the package open and let me try a bite. Not only that, they will remember the next time I visit and ask how I or my guests liked the item. I know several of the folks at Trader Joes, and they ask how I am doing each time I go in. I look forward to checking out at Trader Joes. The cashier will genuinely ask me how I am doing, make a comment on my purchases, telling me how much they enjoy a particular item, or asking me about it so they can try it. They ask if am ready for the weekend, and how my day is going. They are seem truly interested in me. They are passionate about their job, but more importantly, they are passionate about people.

And, you know what? Even if Trader Joes had a self check option, I wouldn’t choose it. I would go through the checkout line and talk to a real person, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Plus, I don’t think I am alone. I think that’s true for a lot of folks.

You see, Automation may be able to do a lot of things more quickly, more efficiently, and maybe, in the long run, more inexpensively. However, automation cannot give me a human being who is truly interested in me, and is passionate about what they do.

There are a lot of conversations going on about what automation will do, what jobs will be affected, who will lose their jobs. And, fact is, automation is coming and is growing. However, I don’t think automation will ever replace those employees who make themselves valuable, who care deeply about their job, who work passionately, who are truly interested in those around them, and who want to do a good job and be skilled at what they do.

In my opinion, that kind of employee will ALWAYS be more valuable than any automation!!!!

10 Unique excuses for missing work!!!

It is near the end of the week, and closing in on the end of a cold and snowy January. I don’t know about you, but I could use a good laugh or two.

Most business owners and leaders have heard some pretty good excuses for missing work. Kind of the adult version of “The dog ate my homework.”

Of course, there really are legitimate reasons for missing work, but sometimes, well, let’s say you have to wonder. Back in 2016 Career Builder complied a list of some of the craziest excuses. I thought I would share a few of them with you this week.

  • The employee said the ozone in the air flattened his tire
  • The employees pressure cooker had exploded and scared her sister, so she had to stay home.
  • The employee had to attend the funeral for his wife’s cousin’s pet, because he was both an uncle and a pallbearer
  • The employee was locked in by the police raiding her home
  • The employee had to testify against a drug dealer and the dealer’s friend mugged him
  • Employee said her roots were showing and she had to keep her hair appointment because she looked like a mess.
  • The employee ate cat food instead of tuna and was now deathly ill
  • The employee said she wasn’t sick, but her llama was
  • The employee had used hair remover under her arms and had a chemical burn as a result. She was now unable to put her arms down to her side until it healed
  • The employee was bowling the game of his life and couldn’t make it to work.

I don’t know about you, but the sick llama was my favorite!! What unique excuses have you heard? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

What Patrick Mahomes can teach us about our job

Amazing!! The Kansas City Chiefs are playing for the AFC Division Championship, AT HOME!! WOW!!! Great job. But there is one guy who has shone, who, I think, has a few things to teach us about our job.

Patrick Mahomes

He is a remarkable quarterback, only one of three to throw 50 touchdowns in a regular season!! But what can he teach us about work, and how to work.

  1. He lets his skills speak for itself. You don’t hear a lot of problems for Mahomes. He simply works. He does his job, and he works. In fact, he doesn’t have to tell you how good he is, he shows you!!!
  2. He doesn’t stress out under pressure. Mahomes stays calm and works things out, even when the pressure is on, hard.
  3. He has a plan B. Even when the play he wants doesn’t go as planned, he has a plan B, and he isn’t afraid to use it.
  4. He chose his focus.  When he was in college, Mahomes was also a pitcher for the baseball team. He chose in his Sophomore year to drop baseball and focus on football. It paid off. Rather than being pulled in two directions, he focused on what he was good at, and what he loved.
  5. He keeps his mouth shut. A lot of athletes get in trouble for running their mouth. Mahomes, just works. That’s a good employee. He doesn’t smart off, he doesn’t brag. He works, and let’s his work speak for itself. Mahomes keeps his mouth shut. Well, OK, except for the ketchup on steak comment, but I think we can forgive that!!

In short, I think there is a lot about doing a good job we can learn from our own Patrick Mahomes. And, as we get ready for this weekend, I just have to say.

GO CHIEFS!!!

What most employers want

If you had to guess, what one thing do you think most employers are looking for?

Go ahead, make a guess, I’ll wait….

Got it…

You sure?

Well, I don’t have a scientific answer. I am sure there are some studies out there that can give a definitive answer, but I do have my experience, and in my experience in the employment industry, there is one answer that is far and away above all others. My experience has shown that employers are looking for dependability.

Will you show up for work, every day, and on time? Will you refuse to let excuses rule your life? Will you get up and come in, even if you had a fight with your significant other? Will you come in, even if you have a headache? Will you come in, even if you had a little too much to drink the night before? Better yet, will you decide not to drink so much the night before so you will be awake and alert for work? Will you allow a little extra time in getting to work so you don’t run late?

Those are the kind of things employers are looking for. They want someone who will plan ahead a little bit. They want someone who has a plan B if things don’t go right. They have someone else they can call at the last minute to be a babysitter if they need it. They have a friend who can give them a ride to work if their car breaks down, or they know the bus schedule so that they can get to work, even if they are a little late.

An employee who is dependable, reliable and has a plan B for when things come up will be one of the most valuable employees there is. In fact, you might not have the skills that other people do, or even have the natural talent that others do, but if you will work on being dependable and being a person of your word, you will find that you can be even more valuable to a company than the most skilled person they have.

Just a thought

Shane Richardson

Skills! What Skills?

Unemployment in the Kansas City Metro area for October (the most recent month I have access to when writing this), was 2.7%. There’s not a lot of ways to say it, so, let me be blunt. THAT’S CRAZY. When I was in college, we didn’t think this level of unemployment was possible. In fact, I remember a professor telling me that sustained unemployment below 5% was not possible and could cause a collapse in the economy.

Well, no collapse yet, but that doesn’t mean that is easy for employers. Plus, there are additional challenges. What about skilled labor.

With unemployment at record level lows, finding an employee for a job is hard, finding an employee for a skilled job can be almost impossible. So, what does an employer do.

Well, I am glad you asked. There are several options available, but I want to mention one idea that might be a help to you, and offer a long term solution too. The idea may sound strange, counter-intuitive, even radical, but it is an old idea that may still work. Are you read?

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Now, please understand, I am not talking about hiring people who won’t work, or who are unreliable. That would make things hard. I am saying, maybe bring somebody in who doesn’t yet have the skills you need, place them with someone who does, and train them. They used to call these apprentices, and they learned a skill that was then valuable to the employer and the employee.

Do you need someone who can do some spot welding? Why don’t you teach them. Do you have an employee who is loyal and proven. Let them learn a new skill. Let them learn how to do something that you need done. This allows them to grow as a person in their skill level, it allows you to expand your knowledge base in your employees, and it helps you relieve a problem you have of needing good, skilled employees.

There are several ways this can work. Let them employee work one day a week in the new department, or half days in the new department, learning a new skill. Maybe hire someone who has a basic knowledge of the skill, but needs some honing. Let them work with one of your experienced employees. Maybe help them see the value of growing with your company, and staying with a company that will teach them new skills and let them grow.

There is an old saying that I learned a while back that I have found true. “You can teach someone a new skill, you can’t teach them a new attitude. Hire an attitude and teach a skill.” Now, in this market, more than ever, look for the attitude and teach the skill.

Just a thought,

Shane Richardson

913-333-2343

Thinking About Employment

At On Demand Employment, we want to do more than just match good people with good jobs. We want help your company succeed, and we want to help our employee succeed. That’s why we are starting this blog. Every week (more or less), we will be posting something that will be helpful to employers, helpful to employees, interesting news related to employment, or maybe something just a little fun so you can relax a bit and have a good laugh.

Watch for our first post after the New Year. Please feel free to comment, and let us know your thoughts and ideas. We love serving our companies and our employees. Thanks for dropping by!!

Shane Richardson

913-333-2343