Become an employer of choice

Columns - game plan

July 31, 2019

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The order of the day went straight to the point: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” In the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, one of England’s more decisive naval battles, Admiral Lord Nelson called upon the sailors of his island nation to ward off an attack by the combined French and Spanish navies. It was a battle to the finish and one in which Nelson was mortally wounded. When told of eminent victory, among his final words were, “Now I have done my duty.”

Golf course managers today are charged with myriad duties, maybe not with life and death consequences, but critical nonetheless. Foremost among them is the recruitment, training and retention of a qualified and motivated staff. There is no more important role to the financial and operational well-being of courses simply because so many moving parts require near constant attention.

What’s more, the job is getting tougher. The U.S. has more job openings than unemployed people, a situation known as “full employment.” The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in April, notching a record 103 straight months of job gains and signaling that the current economic expansion shows little sign of stalling. The Labor Department reported in July that the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, the lowest since 1969.

What we should glean from those statistics is that the war for talent continues unabated across U.S. businesses, making it even more challenging for leaders to build a staff with the highest quality workers. Becoming an employer of choice in your market is now a business imperative. Here are five ways to distinguish your facility:

1. Prioritize. With labor costs representing slightly more than half of operational costs at most facilities, making your course and club attractive to job seekers is a smart use of resources. Start by deciding the selection criteria for each position. Thinking through on-the-job performance standards helps to establish the search criteria for each position. This careful job description serves to focus the employer’s intentions and expectations. Detailed job description and criteria also clarify the opportunity for prospective employees, so they know going in what is expected of a successful candidate.

The process seems simple, but many employers fail to prioritize the time and thought process to describe what is needed from a specific position.

2. Organize. Employees want to know what will be expected of them in the job. An organized approach to describing the position makes sure employer and employee are on the same page, reducing surprises and establishing an understanding on key aspects of employment. Carefully organizing the position description signals that you know what you want and will keep searching until you find the best candidate.

3. Standardize. Your search process is a miniature branding effort. Using consistent and professional formatting, job and benefits descriptions and comprehensive summaries of expected annual income guide prospective employees to you. Remember, you’re not simply searching for someone to fill a position – you’re searching for the best possible fit. Describe the culture of your team with words that demonstrate commitment and dedication. For most people, work is an emotional relationship before it is an economic consideration. In a December 2018 study of employees’ attitudes, Clutch, a B2B search firm, noted that “workplace values are essential to recruiting, retaining, and motivating quality employees.” In the same study, employees emphasized the importance of fair treatment and compensation alongside ethical treatment. While compensation is obviously important, how people feel about themselves in their jobs is even more valuable.

4. Recognize. To keep top performers, celebrate their successes. To many workers, the respect of their co-workers is highly important. Create a culture that recognizes the efforts and successful performance results of teammates. There are many examples of employee recognition successes, but most important is keeping the recognition fair, transparent and generous. Recognition will prove to be one of your best investments in time and money.

5. Evolution-ize. Create a recruitment and retention process that evolves with the workforce, your club and employees. Most staff members want to work where there is a fresh and invigorating environment. Traditions are extremely important and should be balanced with the need of employees to see change and growth in their jobs and lives.

Henry DeLozier is a principal in the Global Golf Advisors consultancy. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Audubon International.