Everywhere you look, employers are complaining about their inability to find qualified applicants for critical positions. But the whole situation is rather ironic: There are 10+ million workers who can’t find jobs, but employers report they can’t find employees.

The key to understanding this shortage is the word “qualified.” When employers say they can’t find “qualified” applicants, they don’t just mean they can’t find applicants who are educated and trained. They also mean they can’t find applicants who have the right character.

As one employer told me, they can’t find workers who can meet all three necessary conditions:

  1. They have the training necessary to do the job.
  2. They show up regularly for work.
  3. They can pass a drug test.

Today, I want to help those of you who are in the same boat. Here are three suggestions that will, over time, help you solve the talent shortage problems you face:

1. Keep the Good Employees You Already Have

We know for certain that staff turnover is one of the highest nonproductive costs to employers. The cost of lost productivity, damaged customer relationships, finding replacements, training new employees, and the impact on others in the organization is huge. We also know that one of the most influential factors in an employee’s decision to leave or stay is how valued and appreciated by their supervisors and colleagues they feel.

Stop the revolving door through which many have exited. You know the positions or areas at your company that see the highest turnover. Analyze the situation. Figure out what is wrong. Why are people leaving? Then, support, encourage, and show appreciation to those who work in, around, and with those positions and areas.

For more info on engaging employees, check out my video, “Why Employee Engagement Isn’t What You Really Want”:

2. Train Employees Who Have Potential But Need to Grow

We often have employees who are “okay” for the most part but have certain deficiencies in either their skill sets or character qualities. These employees need help to grow and develop.

It is important to understand that people are more willing to accept corrective feedback when they feel valued and that you are “on their side.”

Work on encouraging employees and showing appreciation for their strengths while also outlining a vision for how they can grow and gain more responsibility in the organization. After a period of time (a few weeks at least), ask them if they would be willing to hear some ideas you have about what they could do to move up in the company. Just make sure they first know that you value who they are and the good things they currently do in their position.

3. Make Your Organization the Place Where People Want to Work

The word gets around among front-line workers, supervisors, and professionals about where the best places to work are –and where the worst ones are, too.

Believe it or not, it is not all about who pays the most. Becoming the organization or department for which qualified candidates want to work is about creating a culture of appreciation and encouragement in which team members feel valued and value one another.

A positive snowball effect then begins: The negative employees leave over time; you replace them with energetic, can-do staff members; and your organization hums with successful, productive activity.

Trust me – it works!

Paul White, Ph.D., is a speaker, trainer, author, and psychologist who “makes work relationships work.” 

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