Tips for hiring despite the labor shortage

Much as the economy has been on a rollercoaster the past two years, so have the emotions and anxieties of small and local business owners. With a shortage of skilled labor, a sense of burnout creeping into the workforce and lingering supply chain issues, our resiliency is being tested. But Central Ohio is strong, and so are the businesses that keep it running. Many businesses are finding creative solutions to the problems they are facing. Here are some tips on what worked for us to lower turnover and attract the skilled labor we need.

Hire for character

Businesses can work with community colleges to create courses to train the future workforce they . However, in many cases, hiring for character is more important than hiring for skill.

We can teach someone how to service an HVAC system or fix a plumbing issue, but it’s much harder to teach the importance of quality customer service. Businesses don’t necessarily need people who have the right work experience but instead should consider those who can demonstrate compassion and respect for their peers and your customers. Those people can be of any age and come from any industry.

Embrace the future

Businesses can work with students to show them the potential of their industry. For example, this year we worked with local high schools to launch a program that allows high school students to learn firsthand what it’s like to work in the industry. The program includes a one-day unpaid job shadowing during the school year and a three-week paid internship during the summer. Successful interns are immediately offered full-time jobs with the company.

This first year, 35 students expressed interest, several of whom had already participated in the one-day job shadow option. Six were offered internships and, upon completion of the first six-week cycle, one job shadow participant joined the company as a full-time, year-long intern in partnership with a local career center. Another intern accepted an offer to work full-time.

Offering this opportunity allows students, parents, school representatives and employees to get excited and be invested in the program. Having 360-degree support shows us we are on the right track to not only continue this program but also grow it in years to come.

Find your recruiting edge

Along with implementing these new approaches to recruiting, consider putting a massive focus on creating a work environment in which people can thrive. Employees need to know that they are cared for and valued.

To that end, safety is a huge piece of the puzzle. In a manual labor industry, people question whether they’ll be safe on the job, and the only acceptable answer is a resounding yes. To maintain a culture of safety, know who you are hiring by doing background checks and ensuring new hires have good driving records.

An in-house recruiter can also help businesses find employees who will be a good fit. Having a dedicated person who understands your culture and priorities can be invaluable in putting a renewed focus on building your team.

These three strategies can create countless little moments to show prospects and employees that you are invested in their futures. The goal is to find people who will be just as invested in your customers and your company as you are. ●

Mark Swepston is Owner and CEO of Atlas Butler Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

Mark Swepston

Owner and CEO
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