A Matter of Economics

One of my favorite college classes was economics. I loved seeing and speculating on how things in an environment affected things around it. Shortages made prices go up. Surpluses made prices go down. And of course, there was the debate. Do tax increases help or hurt the economy? Should the government insert money into an economy, or should it be all free market? I loved the class!!! But one of the things that seemed to be a nearly hard and fast rule was that as prices go up, people would find alternatives.

LUMBER AND THE ECONOMY

In fact, we are seeing that right now in the lumber market. Lumber is going up, way up!! I bought some plywood a few weeks ago and paid about $35 for it. I thought that was crazy expensive, but today, that same piece of plywood would cost me twice that much. So, people are making substitutes. They are using pressboard, OSB board, plastic, and all kinds of other things that can save them money. Eventually, there will be a surplus of lumber, and we will begin to see the price come down.

It is similar in the employment market. Right now, companies all over the United States are having problems finding folks, so they are doing all kinds of things to try to make it easier. Many are increasing their pay. It helps, but the amount that it may need to go up to draw people may not have been achieved yet (plus, going up that much means that prices go up and inflation sets in, and no one wants that!!!). They are looking for alternatives: automation (by the way call me 913-333-2343, we can help with this!!!!), reducing the workforce, merging job duties, consolidation, etc.

But there is one alternative that I am not sure people are thinking about. In fact, it has kind of surprised me in what I have seen, and that is reducing the requirements for employees.

REDUCING EMPLOYEE REQUIREMENTS

I get it, companies are backed up, so they want someone already trained in the machinery. They also have had bad experience with people who have felony convictions, and they don’t want to risk violence in the workplace. I understand, and I agree. But, what I am seeing, in the midst of the shortage of employees, is that companies are making the barriers to entry even greater, and from an economic viewpoint, this makes the shortage even worse. Rather than reducing the requirements to enter, they are increasing them. They are requiring more qualifications, more experience, cleaner background checks, etc. All of this means that they are reducing their pool of applicants.

Is there a place for this? ABSOLUTELY!! But, maybe there are some things where we can open up some opportunities in other areas. Is there an easy solution right now? Probably not, but we can help you find one that might work. For instance, is there an area where you can train someone in a job skill. Offer to pay them a little more, and train them to do the job. Maybe there are areas where you can allow a felon to have an opportunity to prove themselves. Maybe you can offer work to someone on parole. This is a big area many employers miss. When someone is on parole, depending on the offense, you have a whole cadre of resources at your disposal. IN some cases the Parole officer can be contacted if the person doesn’t show up for work. In some cases they do random drug tests to make sure they are clean. They are often required to have a job to keep from going back to jail. All kinds of things that can work to your advantage.

In short, give us a call 913-371-3212. We can help you customize a way to lower some of the barriers to employment and help you find good folks.

In other words, let’s get this economic situation back under control and find substitutes and other alternatives so we can get everything staffed and back to normal. Or at least close!!!!

A simple Thank You that goes a long ways!!!

I stopped yesterday for a milkshake. Milkshakes are a weakness for me. Actually, ice cream of any kind is a weakness for me, but yesterday was a milkshake day. I looked and saw 3 employees in the restaurant. I think that was all. They were all taking turns taking orders, running the drive-thru, running the kitchen, taking money, delivering food, etc. THREE people. Well, 3 people plus the sign that said, “Please be patient with us as we are having a hard time keeping a full staff. We apologize for the wait, but please be kind to the people who did come to work today.”

It’s not an isolated incident. Everyone is struggling to find enough people, and when they do, there is a struggle to keep them working. I don’t know all the reasons why, but I do know one major one. That is the additional unemployment payments.

Unemployment was designed to be a stop gap. It is insurance to help you if you get laid off, and it supplies partial payment until you can get another job. In Kansas the unemployment maximum you can get per week is $488, plus the government also puts in another $300 per week. This means that a person can receive $788 a week on unemployment. If a husband and wife are unemployed, it goes up to $1576 a week. If you translate this to a per hour rate, that means that a person makes approximately $19.70 per hour if they were to have worked a 40 hour week.

Now, that brings us to an interesting situation. If you have an employee who is making $18 an hour, they could make almost the same, or maybe even a bit more by not working. And, even if you have someone who is making, say $25 an hour, keep in mind they could make almost $20 an hour not working, so the actual value of working is $5 an hour.

Don’t think you folks haven’t thought of this. They know, and they are dedicated enough to you, or have a high enough ethical standard that they keep coming in to work every day!!! That is HUGE. These folks, more than ever, are what is keeping your company running. And, when things get back to normal, they will be the one to thank for you still being in business.

Plus, to make things even more complicated, businesses are paying top dollar right now. Your employees can probably leave and find a higher paying job tomorrow. But they still come in to work for you every day.

So, my encouragement is say “Thank You” and say it often. A handwritten note from the CEO, lunch for your staff, a gift card to a restaurant, an extra day off to be used later in the year, a donation in their name to a charity they are passionate about, a small gift, a relaxation of the rules for a day, publicly praising the employees who come to work every day, an investment made in their name, a contribution to their kids college fund. There are dozens of ways that you can say thank you. But, if you will notice I didn’t say increase their pay. If you need to do that, great, do it! Keep their pay competitive, but that isn’t what will let the folks who are keeping your company running how much you appreciate them. If you want to really go above and beyond and say thank you, find a sacrificial way to do it. You will let the people who are serving you the best know how much you appreciate them. Trust me,

A little S.W.E.A.T Equity

File:Ready for a Dirty Job.jpg
photo used under license and obtained from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region

Mike Rowe is one of my heroes. I love watching Dirty Jobs. In fact, we have some of the seasons of DVD, and for me, one of the worlds greatest cheapskates to buy a season of a TV program says something.

I think one of the things that Mike Rowe does that is amazing is championing the labor jobs in this country. He champions the jobs no one else will do, the jobs that require skill, talent, and lots and lots of hard work. And, sometimes that the catch, the hard work.

Some days it feels like fewer and fewer people are willing to work hard. They want something for nothing. They want a paycheck without the work (to be honest, I would too, but that’s not how it works). Mike Rowe champions people who get out of bed every morning and do the jobs that makes our lives better, and the rest of us just don’t want to do.

Of course, this has grown. Mike now offers help with job training, encouragement and assistance in helping people learn skills. But he also offers his S.W.E.A.T pledge (Skill and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo). I have read this, and assure you, especially in a 3% unemployment economy, that if you follow this pledge, you will pretty much always be able to find work!!. Here it is for your enjoyment with a link to some videos that go into more detail below.

  1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.
  2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.
  3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
  4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
  5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.
  6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.
  7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.
  8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.
  9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.
  10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
  11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
  12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
    On my honor, I hereby affirm the above statements to be an accurate summation of my personal worldview. I promise to live by them.

Mike Rowe Works website can be accessed here