By Gordon Hecht

The old “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper has been inconsequential for many years now.  Social media, especially LinkedIn, is the home of many “now hiring” posts.

I get a chuckle whenever I see a big-ticket retailer posting open positions as “Now Hiring.” In our business, recruiting should be an everyday activity. We need to seek new talent as often as we seek new shoppers. Figure it this way: If you don’t have a $1 million writer on your staff, it means that they are working for someone else.

Last year I made a fairly safe prediction: Your top salesperson will quit your company, or your bottom person will stay. At first it looked like I might miss the mark on the first part. For much of the pandemic many people were scared to job trade, and who could blame them? There’s the adage of “last hired, first fired” when it comes to layoffs, and restrictions, supply chain issues and workload really was not changing company to company or industry to industry.

Then, this past spring saw the first uptick in people changing jobs. That means the best talent on your team may be considering cleaning out their desk and heading off. The time since March 2020 when COVID became a thing may seem like the longest decade in history, so the thought of a change of environment may seem quite appealing.

Related: BrandSource Takes on Labor Challenge

How Do I Love Thee? Whether your organization has two members or 2,000, it’s probably a great time to fearlessly meet this challenge head on. Job satisfaction is a difficult conversation to have, but the better time for a temperature check is before your employee resigns, compared to an exit interview. The goal is to keep the conversation on the positive side and calmly accept negative feedback.

You could start with the “If you owned the company” questions, as in “What would you change to improve customer service, work/life balance, or store appearance.” Add in “What’s your favorite part of your job?” and ask which tasks seem meaningless, repetitious or tedious.

Anonymous surveys can give you a no-holds barred “You can’t handle the truth” job satisfaction overview. Google Survey is a free and simple way for your team to state their opinions without revealing their identities.

Move on to the Future. Asking your people to describe their ideal job, ideal supervisor and what they’d like their career to look like in 2022 and beyond can help them paint a picture —one with your company as the backset. As Dorothy Gale said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home,” and if the grass looks greener in another pasture, it’s because they’re pouring more fertilizer on it.

The Clash famously asked, “Should I stay or should I go?” For your employees, that decision is mostly based on their relationship with their immediate supervisor. They’ll stay working for someone who they like and share a mutual respect. When you see multiple exits from one department, it’s probably a good time to consider a change in management.

The Silver Linings Playbook. Here’s the good news: It may not be your team that’s looking for new surroundings, it could be your competitor’s team. This is a great time to build your talent pool, as people are ready for a change!

Understand this: You will never be fully staffed. There is always room on your team (and your payroll) for the next sales superstar, customer service angel, happy attitude delivery person, cashflow expert, and operations front runner. Adding these people are the key to survival and growing your empire.

The Best Place to Work. Many companies claim this title.  The true measure is when they have more shiny shoes walking in than scuffing out. Open the job satisfaction conversation and take actions to stop the out door from swinging, and promote your company to keep the in door open.

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.