Stop Hiring Warm Bodies
"I can't get good help anymore!"
"The only good help lives 20 or more miles from here."
"As soon as I get a good employee, something goes wrong. He turns out to be a thief."
"The big stores like WalMart and Lowe's and Target and Home Depot hire all the good employees."
You catch an employee stealing from you.
You fire him.
You put an ad out for a replacement.
You get a dozen applicants, but when you ask each about his last employment, he says, "They kept cutting back my hours and I had to quit to find a new job." You suspect (quite accurately) that his former employer cut back the hours so that this employee, your applicant, would quit.
But after a week of paying overtime and having to come down to work a shift yourself a few times, you reluctantly hire your next bad employee.
If you are in this situation now, then you cannot break the cycle. Hire the warm body this time, but do something about it next time.
- Have enough good applications on file that you can probably hire one of these. Hire someone who is working now and is obligated to give a two-week notice. Do not hire someone who is unemployed now and as desperate to get just any job as you desperate to hire a "warm body."
- Have good employees who can easily fill in the gap at the extra cost of time-and-a-half for the time it takes you to hire a qualified person.
How and when to do this:
- When? Now, right now, while you do not have a problem.
- Rank your employees. Make a list. Do not make this a mental exercise. Your thinking is much clearer if you write it down.
- "Proactive" employeees, ones who actually put effort into sales and improving the business.
- "Zero grade" employees, ones who do their work, do nothing wrong, but do not especially do anything "right" either.
- "Warm bodies."
- On your list put a symbol showing which ones you ever thought about firing, even if you have gotten over whatever it was. To my mother I attribute the observation, "If you ever once think about firing a person, eventually you are going to do it."
- Make a what-if decision: If you had to remove an employee and could not replace him, which one would it be? Mark that name on the list.
- Make a list of all your good employees that you have ever had. This will help you focus on what you are really looking for instead of what you are willing to accept as a compromise. It will also help convince you that this is not an exercise in futility. There really are good employees out there.
- Did you hire one of your employees as a "manager" but what you have is an employee who is a little better than the others? That is not a manager. A manager is an employee whom you can give directions and know that all the other employees will receive the same instructions with the same degree of importance as you placed on them when you gave them to the manager. Write "hired as manager but now just a glorified cashier."
- Decide which employee or employees you want to "upgrade" now.
- Place an ad in the paper. "Prefer someone who is currently employed."
- Call the state unemployment office. Stress that you are not looking for a "warm body."
- Consider calling the JTPA Employment and Training Office.
- Contact the local high school Distributive Education Coordinator.
- When you find a better employee, let the "weak link" employee go and hire this better one.
- From now on, when someone asks for an employment application, do not turn him away. Say "We're not hiring anyone right now, but we would like to have some good applicants on hand in case anything changes."
- Tell one or two employment agencies that you are looking for a true manager, but only send resumes and only ones that meet your specifications.
- Do not hide from your employees the fact that you are looking for new employees. Explain that you need a pool in case any of them leaves. The good employees might know of someone.
- You can place ads in most newspapers by internet. Put the newspaper's name in your search engine.
- Place blind ads. If you want to arrange for ads to be sent to Business Resources & Reports' post office box, we can do that.
- Enter "JTPA" in Yahoo! Yellow Pages or similar search engine.
- Phone local highschools and ask for the Distributive Education coordinator.
New employees, then what?