Are you struggling with finding and retaining great employees?

If you are NOT, then you’re in rare company and I’d like to interview you! (Contact me here: jtboswell@stahes.com)

If you are, then welcome to the club.

According to independent studies done by Fortune, Accountable, The Conference Board, Deloitte, and Strahes Consulting, the #1 challenge facing CEOs today is labor shortage.

The question is this:

In the new economy, how do you attract and retain the right talent and skill to create scalable, sustainable profits.

In the “old world”, it was relatively easy… Just pay more money.

In 1914, Henry Ford knew this and more than doubled daily wages from $2.25 to $5.00.

He said this,

“No one loses anything by raising wages as soon as he is able. It has always paid us. Low wages are the most costly any employer can pay. It is like using low-grade material–the waste makes it very expensive in the end. There is no economy in cheap labor or cheap material.” ~ Henry Ford

Over the past 3 years, many companies have tried to buy quality employees and retain them with financial rewards.

I agree 100% that companies should pay good wages and raise them as soon as they are able… IF they have quality employees that can get the job done.

But, sadly, CEOs around the world are discovering that in our day, it is not enough to simply offer more money.

So, what will work?

A Complex Lifestyle Equation

The answer lies in understanding a major shift in the culture and mentality of Americans.

The reality is that we have access to an ever increasing pool of data from social media and other online conversation sources.

People everywhere have become aware of the possibility of enjoying a better lifestyle, defined, not just by money, but by perceived quality of life.

For much of US history, income level was a primary definition of “quality of life” or “lifestyle”. If you made a decent income and had regular raises, you were set.

Today, the definition of a good “lifestyle” is much more involved.

The US Chamber of Commerce reports…

“In 2021, more than 47 million workers quit their jobs, many of whom were in search of an improved work-life balance and flexibility, increased compensation, and a strong company culture.”

Pew Research found that “low pay” was the number one reason for quitting a job… but when you combine the other reasons, it is by far the smallest reason.  Other reasons included…

  • Low advancement and education opportunities
  • Work conditions
  • Feeling disrespected
  • Lack of childcare
  • Not flexible enough work hours
  • Wanted to relocate (ie wanted to work remotely)

The timing for the Great Resignation was also perfect. As the nation is still recovering from COVID-19, there are many financial safety nets to help people transition from one job to another.

In short, people want a better quality of life… and they believe they can have it by getting a different job.

And, there is a collective sense of “If enough of us quit, companies will be forced to pay more and create better work environments.”

One article by American Progress states the answer is simple, “Create Better Jobs”.

CEOs around the country are grappling with the implications of this shift in attitude and beliefs.

The reality is, you can’t simply increase wages and invest large amounts of money into “quality of life” programs for your employees without increasing revenues in sustained ways. The money for these changes has to come from somewhere.

And, in the middle of a recession, that is not as easy as it sounds. Henry Ford was able to do it because the demand for his product was limitless and the economy was booming at the time.

So what can be done now, in our current environment?

Three powerful strategic shifts can help you attract and retain quality employees, without running your business into the ground:

First, Push for Purpose 

This will cost you little or nothing.

At every level, encourage your management to better understand each worker’s purpose in life.

  • What do they value?
  • What does a great lifestyle look like?
  • How does working for you help them get closer to their purpose in life?
  • How does the company’s purpose harmonize with their purpose?

Remember, the top human emotion is to feel significant. When your employees know that your management team knows about them and cares about them, they will feel a deeper sense of fulfillment and appreciation.

What if your employees… or even managers for that matter… don’t have a purpose?

A ship without a rudder will wander in the storms.

One of the best investments you can make is to help your employees find their purpose and help them see how it harmonizes with the company’s purposes.

You can do this by encouraging them to get books and programs on personal development. Better yet, make a small investment and create a library of personal development and high performance habits resources.

People want to feel significant. They want to feel fulfilled. They want purpose.

Help them get it, do it, and feel it.

Second, Master Marketing 

People do not have a money problem.

That is a myth.

People have a priority problem.

When I was newly married and broke, my car dropped its transmission.

The day before it dropped the transmission, I was struggling to come up with food money.

The next day, the tranny shop slapped me with a $2500 bill.

But I HAD to have that car.

Suddenly, I got very creative. My priorities shifted. I hunted for, and found, a way to pay for the transmission.

We see the same things with energy and production.

People aren’t lazy. They lack motivation.

Think how effective people become when they are on deadline to get things done before leaving on vacation for two weeks!

The news is shouting that we’re in a recession and that people are holding tight to their wallets. That may be true… but in the next year, some companies will have shocking growth. They will find someone to give them money.

Why not you?

In 2008/2009 when the economy crashed, I was working as a freelance copywriter. I quickly realized that some companies responded by retracting marketing budgets.

Others dramatically expanded their marketing spend.

But they didn’t just expand their marketing spend, they dramatically increased their marketing savvy. They went deep into the minds, hearts and desires of their buyers. They became ruthless at making every dollar spent give them a solid ROI.

The impact was incredible.

Many of my clients broke out and became top players in their industries, while many top players tried to play it safe and lost market share.

Now is the time to master marketing. Digital marketing, funnels, buyer behaviors, distribution channels, drivers to purchase, etc…

The COVID pandemic shifted people emotionally and psychologically. Do you know where they shifted? Do you know how to persuade them in this new environment?

Find out. Do more. Persuade better.

When you do this, you’ll have more money to invest in your employees.

Third, Encourage Intrapreneurship 

Renowned economist Paul Zane Pilzer loves the term Intrapreneur.

He defines it as: Using entrepreneurial skills within an existing organization to increase profits.

Brendon Burchard, considered by some to be the top authority on high performance habits, once told me, “People are depressed and function at a low level because they are compartmentalized. They don’t create and move things to completion.”

Many employees of today feel unfulfilled and frustrated because they are missing the joy of seeing a project move from idea to reality. They feel worthless and wonder what their purpose is.

When you create environments that spark intrapreneurship, you give people the ability to bring ideas forward and help empower them to see it to completion. In many cases, this simply means increasing communication and recognition.

A personal email stating, “Today we completed Project-X. I really appreciated the work you did on the label design. Looks like this will be a big seller.”

Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Project, suggests putting small teams together, providing them with a budget and a challenge with a time limit. This can do wonders to create solutions, spark creativity, encourage unity, and boost morale.

Focus on High Return, Low Cost Solutions 

To attract and retain quality employees, you don’t have to spend money you don’t have.

There are other ways to help employees increase their quality of life, fulfillment levels and overall production

Brainstorm with your leadership team. You might even consider running an X Prize style competition to help you come up with ways to meet the demands of employees today… focus on low-cost, high-ROI solutions.