How Do You Find And Keep Good Help?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about working for brother-in-law:

My brother-in-law owns a landscaping/handyman company in a small community. He’s having problems finding and retaining help. I’m not sure what the average wage is in Michigan, but I know he pays over minimum wage. Any suggestions? Is this just the nature of this business?

Signed,  In-Law

Dear In-Law:

The complaint that good help is hard to find and keep is not new or unique to Michigan. The problem also is related to the kind of work, economic times, supply of labor, and pay. The president of Mexico recently said that the reason our country hires illegals is that they are willing to do the work that some citizens of this country won’t do. This said, finding and keeping help also can be related to the management of a particular business.

The very phrase finding and keeping help dates back to the wealthy employment of servants and connotes the them that have use of them that have not. The issue for every owner-manager is how to recruit and generate commitment. Pay and perks naturally come to mind and are currently a concern in recruitment of bodies for the armed services.

Tangible incentives are important, but not always the most important when there are alternative job choices for comparison. Are their other ways to find and keep good help? I think there are, and they begin by linking with organizations that train or should train individuals who might like, in your brother-in-law’s case, the business of landscaping/handyman or woman. This might mean helping young children to learn and appreciate gardening, plants, and creative landscaping or who are earning scouting badges for handy projects. Junior achievement and young entrepreneurship are other organizations that generate interest in businesses such as landscaping and handy kinds of work. Get the point? This approach is more than simply finding those with willing hands and empty pocketbooks.

Have you spoken with your brother-in-law about capturing the minds and hearts of those he hires? Is he at all concerned about what those he employs really want to do with their lives? Has he ever coached one of his employees to start and make a business? It takes real initiative, persistence and know-how to know what he knows from his business experience. Might he hire with the promise of teaching his help how to own and manage a small business? Might he hire with a promise such as the apprentice–such as holding out a reward of certificate, recommendation, and bonus after a year to those who like the business, are trainable and who do a business plan that makes sense and has potential? All of this is a we think-we are in this together-your future and my future are joined kind of working relationship.

Taking real interest in one’s help begins with interviews and tapping their hopes and dreams, does in not? Might this make sense to your brother-in-law? It is thoughtful of you to ask the kind of questions that no doubt are in the mind of your brother-in-law. That spirit of caring and sharing is what we call WEGO. Will you share with us what of our advice makes sense to you and what your brother-in-law thinks makes sense to him? And if he does in fact give any of these suggestions a try, please tell us what works and what does not.

William Gorden