Dear Sharon – September 2018

Q. I need help! I have a manufacturing business that is in heavy growth mode. We currently run two shifts, but easily could run three. Challenge is finding qualified people! Currently our second shift should have about 40 workers and we now only have 12! We are advertising on the internet, have a sign out front asking folks to stop in and meet, etc. and nothing is working. What do you suggest we do?

A. This is an all too common challenge! Today’s worker is motivated in a very different way. Our traditional worker was motivated first by pay, including overtime. That mentality is not shared by our new generation of workers. They are more interested in work life balance, the reason why what your firm makes contributes a difference to those you serve etc. Indeed ads or sign in the lot does little to explain either of these.

First let’s get your own house in order. What is the story/purpose of your organization and can you articulate that to get people interested in joining your team? Storytelling is important in recruiting. Stories about taking care of your people, what makes your culture unique, something you did for a customer that was amazing etc. go much farther than what you pay hourly. I find that this step can be surprisingly hard, but ask your current team. An example of this done well is a video by Oshkosh Corporation called “We Are Honored” on YouTube. ( It does a great job telling the “why” their employees engage every day.

Other “must do” pieces is leadership engagement. Who can sell our business better than us? We lead the organization every day and can share a clear vision. No matter the level of employee, they want assurance they are joining an organization with a future and a path to success. All too often leaders are busy, and they assign this important talent choice over to someone less engaging and not clear on articulating “why” your firm. Your time doesn’t need to be long, just effective.

*As featured in the September 2018 edition of Insight on Business that can be found here.