Help wanted?

There are a lot of indicators out there signaling that the economy is on its way back to solid ground. We know corporate profits are a bit healthier, people are again consuming with confidence, and we have opportunities now and then to celebrate a rally in the stock market.

However, we still run smack into that one area that remains scary – the jobs situation.

We hear a lot about what the government is doing – or planning on doing – about unemployment. It seems like a no-brainer to connect our desperate need for attention to decaying infrastructure with the need for jobs. Still, I haven’t seen enough visible signs of local or national agencies making that connection on any grand scale.

So, in my mind, it might be up to that powerful engine for change we know as “business” to quit thinning out and start beefing up their hiring practices.

Common sense tells me that some of the layoffs and hiring freezes came about because of the tendency to over-staff when times are good. Then came the recession and good business responses to that included cutting payroll. Some of those decisions were probably not so logical but were fixes for the over-hiring that went on during boom times. Those jobs won’t be back.

Also, I suspect that some of the job cuts involved under-performing employees. Their terminations were just overdue and easier to execute during the recession.

Those jobs probably need filling with better talent, and now might be an ideal time to do it.

Employers are still wary, of course, about hiring. We all understand. There are, however, some pretty convincing arguments for recruiting talent during this stage of the recovery.

One common situation resulting from all the layoffs is that everyone you keep on staff is doing more work. If you have an open, supportive relationship with your employees, they will probably be willing to pitch in like this for a time. Eventually, though, they approach burnout. As they see the business environment improving, they may be looking for new opportunities where they don’t feel so weighed down by doing two jobs for one salary. And the first to go will be your top talent as they will be the ones sought out by other companies.

Another reason to put energy into recruiting now is that there are scads of really talented people out there. They will be grateful for any opportunity that fits their skills and interests. They are willing to be trained for an entirely new position. In fact many are hungry for a dramatic change from their pre-recession jobs. You don’t want to be late in the game looking for all this talent.

You don’t want to wait so long that the stars are already snapped up and happy with new jobs in the recovering economy and your field of prospects shrinks. You don’t want to be celebrating a healthy rebound in your own business, and caught with a staff too thin to meet your customers’ demands.

You know how tough it is to keep morale strong when you’re reducing staff. Your employees are looking over their shoulders to see if they’re next. Not a healthy environment and not good for productivity. Not good for your own peace of mind.

Once hiring begins again, spirits are lifted. Staff can let go of spending energy on fear and return to creativity and productivity. “We must be doing OK” replaces “Wow, things are tough around here. All I see is empty cubicles.” Your demonstration of courage will have far-reaching benefits.

You, of course, may start with temps and part-time additions to staff. You may focus on attracting a few super-stars now while they’re available. Your budget may preclude hiring more than one new employee.

Still, if you transition from being among the throng of moaners and groaners, and into the field of those taking action to change the unemployment statistics, in any way small or large, you deserve the applause of everyone in this country and beyond.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display