First off, the labor market is tiresome … and periodically frustrating. Sourcing, interviewing, hiring and training challenges are not absent from our service to clients. If anything, they are the problems we are actively trying to solve for our clients, so we live it and absorb it every day. Here are some of the top challenges and trends we have observed in our recent travels.
Tracking the pandemic
The laundry list of downstream effects of COVID-19 include but are not limited to:
- Lack of available — let alone qualified — applicants.
- Inability for both candidates and employers to follow through a hiring process.
- Lack of communication, including no calls and no shows for interviews.
The systemic issues for seasonal organizations include wages, housing and transportation, retention, immigration hurdles, competition for year-round employment, finding “career” hourly workers, and internal competition from other departments.
Since March, entry-level wages rose 17.1 percent in the hospitality and trades sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, forcing the hand of businesses to increase wages at an alarming rate. Many businesses have reset their entry-level compensation at $15 per hour to get ahead of the looming federal minimum wage increases.
New-hire wage rate will continue to grow over the next 12 to 18 months, and we have consulted with clubs budgeting for $20 per hour for no experience. This isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity to be competitive against your local business environment, not against peer clubs.
Are those wages sustainable for the club industry? Not under the business mindsets that operate where dues increase and assessments are a foreign language, and major compensation changes must be approved under existing governance policies.
The Great Resignation
The Great Resignation is very real. Workers are quitting their jobs at record rates, for a range of reasons, across almost every industry. If you’re a business owner, an HR professional or an employer of any sort, your concerns are valid. Remote and gig-based work aren’t making it any easier for the service industry.
When an employee leaves, it might not be on their manager to spearhead efforts to hire their replacement, but the manager is almost always left to pick up the day-to-day pieces. Rehires don’t happen overnight.
Who takes on the extra work? Who is left to do the training? Who’s left to field questions and try to mitigate the morale hit? The manager’s job is extra difficult if the departing employee was an especially high performer, well-liked by colleagues and managed ongoing projects … the list goes on.
What’s the outlook in 2022?
The fight for talent is going to expand exponentially in 2022 as employees have more choices in a hybrid work world. In a recent study by the Predictive Index, 57 percent of 2,000 respondents from across 15 industries stated they are considering leaving their current position in the near future.
The same systemic issues in our industry are happening elsewhere, forcing people to rethink their career trajectories. People aren’t solely quitting because of COVID’s impact on the workforce. Public health concerns and social distancing are not the main drivers of resignations. Flexible work schedules, access to mental health resources, investment in their professional development and company cultures that reflect their own values are important to employees.
Women are leaving the workforce at a faster pace than men. Some of that is due to women still absorbing a disproportionate share of the childcare responsibilities, and too often being underpaid relative to their male counterparts.
It’s easy to follow the narrative that nobody wants to work anymore. But 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.”
The good news? The industry is listening. They’re figuring out how to accommodate flexible health care and time-off policies. They’re prioritizing people strategy right alongside member recruitment/retention and capital investments. The executive search firm world is starting to see an uptick in human resource or talent acquisition-type roles being created, which is an early indication that club leadership sees the value in supporting their employees.
Keith Pabian, of Pabian Law, recently spoke at the Met Golf Association President’s Council about various the blended and experiential benefits that seasonal organizations are offering. Among the new ideas: the first paycheck the week a worker starts; bonuses to sign on, stay and refer others; food for workers and their families; paying for people to attend interviews; and adapting how they operate (automation, food trucks and limited housekeeping among them). Could you imagine getting a check for showing up to an interview? Sounds like a great side hustle!
Many of our client partners are investing in continued education and on-the-job training for staff members. Shorter course offerings such as the UMass six-week program, the Virginia Tech winter course and other online training courses are seeing an increase in participation.
Apprenticeship continues to grow nationally as a viable solution to recruiting, developing and retaining key skilled employees as an alternative for finding assistant managers and equipment technicians. The formalized on-the-job training program offers employer benefits such as tax credits and reimbursements funds toward education and training.
Call to action
Good managers understand it’s not as simple as just talking to your peers and reports. You need support from the top. Employers — including your board of governors and key stakeholders — that fail to recognize this will fail in their retention and recruitment efforts.
If you are looking to address the Great Resignation, you must be an advocate for yourself, your people and, ultimately, the product you can deliver.
Tyler Bloom is a workforce and leadership consultant and founder of TBloom, LLC, a business he launched in 2020 after 17 years working in daily golf course maintenance. Follow him on Twitter @tbloom_golf or at https://tylerbloom.online/.