A Blinding Flash of the Obvious

FROM THE FLOOR UP by Tom Dardis

A result of the past several year’s construction slowdown, there has been a depletion of the workforce. When the economy began to turn, construction was one of the first industries to slow down. As business slowed, workers were laid off and / or simply moved on. A great number of those ready, willing and able to work in jobs of almost every category, simply had to leave the area.

The good news, here, is that “for every recession, there is a recovery”. There are indications that we are approaching the recovery.

Think for a moment about the families that have survived. They have sacrificed on many levels to maintain employment. To be fair, employers have struggled to keep employees. It is two sided. They have done without things such as insurance, vacations, personal days, allowances for necessities such as fuel, company cars, entertainment of clients, and pay raises. Some were forced into furlough programs in order to keep what became a part time job. These employees are the survivors! These employers are also the survivors! Together, they have weathered the storm (almost). Now, let’s flash to the near future.

Business is picking up, people are back in town, profits are beginning to return, and generally, things are looking up. As business begin to flourish, their need for qualified labor will rise. Remember that there is virtually no available workforce. We now have plenty of housing, but no workers. Where are the newly revitalized (progressive) companies going to look for their labor force? There will only be one place to look. The “survivors”, and the “survivors” will be easy picking.

Even though the surviving work force has only been able to do so because of a surviving employer, they feel tired, beaten down, punished, and abused. The newly revitalized companies will be having easy picking from the surviving work force. It will look, to the workforce, like a giant white stallion loaded down with goodies like regular raises, paid vacations, insurance, matching 401k programs (they will be growing by then) and generally very attractive packages. The survivors will not be thinking about an “owed allegiance” to their survivor employers, they will only see the glittering white horse. The very employees that the employers have lost sleep over in the effort to keep them working, will jump ship without a second thought. This is through absolutely no fault of the surviving employer. This WILL HAPPEN! Those that worked so hard to make it through the storm will be left with a depleted workforce. Not right, not fair, not nice, BUT IT WILL HAPPEN!

There is something the surviving employer can do to help keep this to a minimum. Start to appreciate your existing, hard working, sacrificing (as you are) employees. Start today! If the recovery begins and you are not ready, you will be left in the dust of those that have “stolen” your workforce.

Here is the point….Take care of those that have taken care of you. If you do not, they will take care of someone else, and they will do so in a heartbeat. The mindset has been to cut, cut, cut and that has been the strategy of the survivors. It has worked and as tough as it sometimes was, it was the only way to survive. While the tough times are not yet over, those that will excel in the future need to be thinking way outside of the box right now. Remember to take care of those that have taken care of you. Talk about it, express your appreciation, actually do something about employee retention. It will pay dividends in the near future.

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Dardis is Floor Covering Manager for Affordable Flooring & Kitchens, A member of CBIA, a Director of the CBIA Remodelors Council, and is certified by the National Association of Home Builders as a Green Building Professional. He is a graduate of The Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Human Relations, The Dale Carnegie Sales Course, and The Dale Carnegie Management Seminar as well as personally conducting many training seminars for professionals.
Tom Dardis
239-784-2438 cell

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