Why Can’t I find the Right People?

By Ned Bauhof
Targeted workforce location and recruiting
I continue to be amazed by how companies that rely so heavily on human labor for success place so little emphasis on finding the right people to achieve success. Newspaper ads followed by a drug test followed by a “go do what he does” training program is a recipe for disaster. Even as the economy has suffered and unemployment is up vs. the record lows in the 1990s, finding and keeping top-notch warehouse employees is more difficult than ever before.
The continuous struggle facing warehouse leadership to find and keep quality people in warehouse and distribution roles is absolutely exhausting to witness. First of all, the chances of the right number of people with the right qualities and capabilities coming to you are slim to none. Typically, those responding to newspaper ads are unemployed, and often for good reason. You should not be targeting the unemployed. Instead of waiting for the right person to walk in off the street, target and recruit quality resources that possess the skills you want and need.
Targeted Workforce Location and Recruiting (TWLR) is a technique that other industries have used widely with tremendous success. If ever there has been a right time for a more sophisticated approach to upgrading the human element, this is it. Product proliferation, increasing customer demands and limited warehouse space have increased the demands on the industry’s labor force. Simply put, the work is harder and will continue to get harder. Addressing this with unqualified, inexperienced resources who offer low dependability, questionable capability and a high likelihood for turnover is most likely not the best solution.
Labor Risk
As with many industries, labor is the largest component of productivity and cost in beverage warehousing. Organizations seeking to locate a new facility, expand their current location or just continue day-to-day operations in an existing location are subject to labor risk. The more dependent an organization is on conventional warehouse techniques, the greater the risk. In beverage warehousing, the dependency on conventional techniques is great; therefore the risk is equally great.
Labor risk is comprised of three elements:
1. Availability of volume by occupations matched to job requirements to allow for initial start-up, growth and turnover.
2. Availability of worker quality (“aptitude” and “attitude”) providing the ability to achieve performance goals.
3. Wage levels, as they exist today and as affected by changes in supply and demand going forward into the foreseeable future.
TWLR significantly increases your chances for operational success and improvement to the bottom line… period.
Think for a moment of the ongoing cost of recruiting that you experience and the lost productivity associated with constant turnover as well as the lost time on the part of leadership to manage a rotating door of employees. Did you know that excessive turnover can cost you between 100 and 200 percent of a worker’s annual wages, not to mention the “headache factor” associated with it?
If the job requirements, wages and benefits you offer are a good match for a worker’s skills, aspirations and household budget, then a win-win situation exists. For the employee, it means quality of life. For the company, it means an average reduction of 50 to 90 percent on recruiting costs, reduced turnover, and an increased probability for productivity, all of which translate into net economic benefits and a higher return on human capital investment.
How does it work?
In this information age, the amount of data readily available about each one of us is mind boggling. The places we shop, the items we buy, the amount we spend… this information is used to create advanced marketing databases that companies use to target prospective users of their goods or services. These same marketing database tools, which are broken down into 62 geo-demographic segments, can be used to create one-to-one communications with households and individuals that have the highest propensity of interest in what you as an employer have to offer.
Within the entire labor market where you are located or where you may plan to locate, only a remarkably small percentage of households are going to be a good match for the job requirements, wages and benefits you offer. This is why the likelihood of this small percentage of people finding you is slim and why it’s necessary to have a more sophisticated approach. You can now target your workforce as well with professional guidance and expert systems.
Human resource policies
As you provide this article to your local human resource manager, he or she will ponder one or both of the following questions. Does TWLR take the place of my human resource practices and policies? Is TWLR consistent with the company’s goals for equal employment opportunities?
Although the approach is nontraditional, when done correctly, TWLR will enhance your Human Resource Department’s chances for success in all that they do. By targeting economic traits that are consistent with your commonly shared success, you actually maintain a higher likelihood of achieving equal opportunity employment goals.
Case study
A major corporation planned to open two new facilities and was in need of 100-plus non-managerial employees. It performed an analysis of existing company employees and cross-referenced against the job functions required in the two new facilities. Employees would travel no farther than 12 miles to maintain their employment at the current wage rate, according to the results of this analysis. The company created a household target listing by using geo-demographic marketing information along with current employee profile information. It mailed the employment information to each household matching the criteria within a 12-mile radius. The company invested $11,000 in this project, which equated to $91.66 per employee hired. This approach was so successful that the company had to cease other advertising campaigns after three weeks due to the overwhelming response of qualified candidates.