If my operating model was based on charging for every time I heard, “I can’t find anyone, no one wants to work,” I’d be a billionaire — and I’m just 18 months into owning my own business.
Accusation audit No. 1: I’m not a human resource expert, so take my suggestions as solely observational, “learned on the job” and at times impractical. However, when traveling the country over the course of the last 18 months and consulting with facilities in both remote and urban settings, I observe and tell the story as I see it.
There’s unprecedented demand with more than 10.4 million open jobs and only 75 unemployed people for every 100 open positions. Experts expect this will be a three- to five-year crisis. Remote work and gig-based work is challenging the norms for how people interpret the style of work.
People, including myself, have rethought their career trajectories, priorities and the lifestyle they want to live. Changing compensation, benefits, work environments and scheduling to be more attractive and accommodating as an “employer of choice” has brought about much needed improvement in the golf industry. General managers, golf professionals, superintendents and chefs are all trying to make the best of the situation, but many are flat-out tired and frustrated.
The frustration over candidates not responding to texts, emails or phone calls, along with the no-call, no-show for interviews, has plagued nearly every business in America. For your own mental sanity, this is the norm, not the exception.
I heard it best from one superintendent: “Sometimes it is just easier dealing with the shortage than prioritizing the time to handle a hiring process or training.” As we looked for common trends and themes in our consultations and search processes, we came to a conclusion that Father Time is often the root of the recruiting and hiring process, or lack thereof. The demands of organizations from the top down has inhibited clubs to properly market openings, source people and, at times, follow through on a hiring process.
You shouldn’t feel busy, buried and behind, or guilty over how you spend your time. Often, we are so busy dealing with responsibilities beyond the call of duty that a follow-up phone call, email or text message to that candidate is down the priority list. People become disengaged, and you’re back to square one and restarting the entire process. Hiring managers are justifiably beaten down over the situation and tired of spinning on the hamster wheel.
Consideration for designating and delegating to a talent acquisition specialist, recruiting firm, staffing agency or appointing someone on the team to coordinate sourcing, interviewing, hiring and onboarding is difficult when the cost of business in other areas continues to compete with the cost for talent.
With that being said, what’s the story on the other side of the pillow, to paraphrase the late Stuart Scott? It’s easy to follow the narrative that nobody wants to work anymore. There are plenty of people hungry for work. They’re eager and energetic and they want to find a way to get back on their feet after 18 months of uncertainty. As one gentleman said to us during an initial phone screening, “I just want to get back to work so I can feel like a man again.”
We have to recognize what people who are going through the job-seeking process are enduring. Some are on pins and needles waiting for work, any kind of work. Many have multiple irons in the fire looking for any kind of work imaginable, even if that is in a field they have no transferable skills.
In fairness, I am guilty of making similar sentiments on numerous occasions! For argument’s sake, the average time to hire general labor is 42 days, according to the Society of Human Resources. You are fighting against Father Time in an industry heavily reliant on volume of applicants in a short hiring season. The surefire way is to increase your marketing and outreach efforts.
It is not inconceivable to begin your hiring process for 2022 right now and consider bringing in people who are laid off from their existing seasonal position. Recruiting and hiring needs to be a 12-month process, and I foresee more businesses adapting to larger full-time teams during the winter months and sharing responsibilities throughout the club.
Take care of your people
There’s a bigger picture here to consider beyond just losing potential employees — your existing employees. They need to be seen as human beings, individuals looking to put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. We need to consider that they are overworked, tired and stressed, too.
There is a consistent effort towards creating a sustainable work-life balance by many businesses. Instituting a cap of 50 hours a week for managers, shifting work-week schedules to include two days off, increasing PTO during non-peak months, providing wellness benefits for employees and offering accessibility to better health care options are measures worth considering.
Check in with your people. A disengaged workforce will lead to greater turnover, so it is pivotal at this time to keep the environment warm, welcoming and fun. Reengage with your core staff about the successes, tribulations and adversity overcome in 2021.
Your call to action
Becoming aware of your time is your first step, and prioritizing action is the second. Communicate your needs up the chain. You need to multiply time through delegation, automation or elimination.
Developing a talent management team that will include hiring managers, assistant managers, human resources, recruiters or external sources. AutoZone, for example, is currently offering anyone in North America that refers a qualified candidate with a CDL license a $5,000 referral fee if the individual stays on for 90 days. Is it so bogus to think the club industry should be doing the same to passive candidates?
The utilization of automated applicant tracking systems can not only distribute jobs to your big job boards, but also send automated emails, interview schedules, assessments and questionnaires to identify the right person for your team. These also help hiring managers and teams stay focused and accountable.
Managing and coordinating an entire search process from establishing job description and requirements, to posting, scheduling interviews, utilizing personality assessments to screen, phone screen and even schedule the final interview is a full-time job.
Thinking you can go at this alone is unrealistic. Minimizing the gaps and time between each step can be done by eliminating the work for yourself or assistant managers. Michael Campbell, director of grounds at Montclair Golf Club in Montclair, New Jersey, took that advice in late 2021 and secured a talent acquisition manager for the grounds team. Michael’s team can now focus its time in the field and leave the expert to do her job.
There are many virtual assistants on freelance sites such as Fiverr, Upwork and others who have human resource specialists looking for temporary assignments. Contracting recruitment is no different than outsourcing aeration, soil testing and disease testing, and it can be done within a reasonable budget.
Hire the experts, so you can focus your time on what you do best in the field, in the boardroom and, most important, as a family person.