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Pat Monacelli

3 Solutions to Common Hiring Problems

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by Christina R. Metcalf

Some businesses are saying we are in the midst of a secondary pandemic. But it’s not the kind that requires masks and handwashing. No, this one is harder to control.

There is a dearth of people willing (or able) to work for a multitude of reasons. Employers across the country are posting signs asking for patience with their existing employees because the business is understaffed. In fact, there are hiring managers who are scheduling interviews only to have no one show up! You can’t hire people who don’t even come to an interview.

So what’s a business to do?

Some people blame the business. They believe that the average person wants to work but can’t afford to because of minimal wages and expensive childcare. But the numbers don’t entirely speak to that. 30% of US households are “married without children” in 2020. Single-person households are 23% of the population. So for over half, children aren’t a concern.

So, what can you do to combat the 3 common hiring problems these days? Here are some ideas.

Employment Hiring Challenges Post-COVID
If you brush wages aside as the main reason people don’t show up for interviews or first days for that matter, what are you left with?

Working from Home
It’s the elephant in the room. Why would a worker want to work behind a counter when they can sit at home and work (or sit by the pool or in a coffee shop, etc.). An unparalleled number of businesses created work from home scenarios, and many will stick to those protocols long after COVID. Work at home is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and it’s hard to compete with that.

Solution: If your business is entirely in-person, it’s not like you’ll never be able to hire again. But it may take some creativity to appeal to workers. Things you might be able to do include flexible shifts (such as working around a child’s schedule) or floating start times within a window of time. The clue here is to get creative with the allowances you can make.

Ghosting Is the Norm
Ghosting has become the norm in relationships. Don’t want to deal with a difficult situation, ignore it and disappear. We’re starting to see this trickle down into our workforce. It’s acceptable to just not show for an interview, first day, drug screen, etc.

Solution: This is difficult to do when you’ve only had minutes of interaction with a candidate. However, people are more likely to ghost when they don’t feel a connection or don’t think of the employer as a person but rather a large corporate structure as in the “they won’t even notice I’m not there” scenario.

In order to avoid being ghosted, you have to do your best to connect with them in the short time you have. Share details about your life. Maybe you’re interviewing them on a special day and “fitting” them in or “clearing” your schedule. Do it respectfully and don’t force the guilt but try and make an impression. You may still get ghosted, but it will be less likely if they see you as a person with needs and feelings.

Reevaluating the Same Old, Same Old
With our forced downtime this past year, we were exposed to a LOT of marketing messaging and frankly many people are just burned out. They may find it hard to believe the claims of some companies.

Another thing people may have done is reevaluating things in their lives that just aren’t working. Some people may have decided that life is too short to work at an unfulfilling job. Others may have seen this pandemic as a kick in the pants from the universe to start their own job. Maybe they saw how being a loyal employee can still result in a lay-off or furlough. Whatever the cause of their employment ennui, people have changed, and you’ll need to too.

Solution: find out what your existing employees want (and what makes them stay with you). Use that in your job marketing. Ask employees for referrals. Reward them for their loyalty and they’ll talk about how great you are to their friends.

Employers are facing an unparalleled time right now, finding it very difficult to recruit good people. For many businesses, it’s difficult to get interest let alone keep someone after their first day. In order to be competitive in the job market, you need to stand out. These tips should help you do that. But you’ll need to go beyond them to think of some creative experiences for new employees. While you’re at it throw a few in for your customers. You never know. A loyal customer may just want to become part of your team.

How COVID is Changing the State of Work

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Are you ready to return to normal yet?

If “normal” means life without COVID, we’re not that far away from herd immunity. But if your definition of normal is getting back to how things used to be before the pandemic, I’m afraid that likely isn’t happening. The state of work has changed. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for life on the other side of the pandemic.

Things Have Changed. Your Business Will Need to Adapt.
If you’ve ever raised a child or owned a pet, you understand that it is very hard to allow for an exception to a rule. Try telling your dog, for instance, that they can only sit on your furniture at night. Or tell a child under 5 they can skip a nap only on vacation. Rule and exceptions to the rules are difficult to enforce when they apply sometimes.

The same will be true of the changes we’ve made to the workforce. Prior to COVID, many businesses didn’t want to allow employees to work from home. When the pandemic hit our doorsteps, employers were forced to reevaluate that policy. They had to make it work. All of their reasons why it would not work were tossed in order to keep the proverbial doors open.

Post pandemic, it will be difficult to return to things the way they were. It will be the same level of difficulty one might experience trying to shove all the vacation clothes back into a suitcase at the end of vacation. Things never quite fit back in the way they did when you got there.

So how will things change and what should we prepare for?

4 Ways the State of Work Has Changed
The following things have changed, and it is likely they will impact work going forward.

1. Work at home worked. People found a way to work from home amid the many distractions. They did what had to be done even when it was difficult. Employers found ways to measure productivity and hopefully dealt with situations that weren’t working.

2. Productivity measures changed. Prior to the pandemic, there were many businesses that still held onto the “butts in seats” notion of productivity. People were doing their jobs as long as they were sitting in the office, even if that meant killing an extraordinary amount of time cyber shopping and surfing the internet. With COVID, employers had to look at “real” productivity. Was the job getting done? The hours mattered less because we were all juggling distractions and responsibilities from illness to childcare to home schooling. Employers were now looking at “were the business needs getting met” as an indicator of the job being performed.

3. Have office will travel. Prior to COVID, the business world embraced open-office culture. Some businesses even removed desk assignments from the equation and allowed employees to work anywhere (in the office) that they felt their creative best. With the pandemic, employers are having to face that people can work anywhere and have enjoyed carving out their own creative space in their homes or in the places they’ve been allowed to frequent. Twitter and Hitachi have already announced that they will commit to more flexible working arrangements indefinitely.

4. Real estate is overrated. With employees working from a non-corporate location, many employers have come to question if they need a brick-and-mortar business or if they need one big enough to house every employee. They are starting to question whether smaller buildings (or none at all) can be more cost effective. At one time, a large show of opulent office space was an indicator of success. With COVID and its effects on impressions, this is no longer the case, particularly if most of the building is empty.

We may soon hit herd immunity. And with that, there will likely be more allowances. However, the changes businesses have made during the pandemic will have ripple effects on the state of work far into the future. And just like that toddler skipping naps “only on vacation” it’s likely we will never return to how things once were.

25 Marketing Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Today

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by Christina R. Metcalf

Hope seems to be a big word these days. It’s taken the place of pivot. People are hopeful about recovery. People are hopeful about things returning to normal in the foreseeable future. And people are hopeful they can soon travel and visit loved ones they haven’t seen for a while.

If recovery is right around the corner, now is the ideal time to revisit your marketing strategy and plan. Making critical changes now can bring you into alignment to make the most of recovery. Plus, it’s possible the needs and desires of your target audience have changed.

Asking yourself the following questions about your business and marketing can help ensure that you have the data and information you need to make the most of the looming recovery.

1. Who is your ideal customer? Has it changed with COVID?
2. What is your marketing goal in 2021? What are your objectives/tactics for getting there? How will you measure success or how will you know when you’ve reached that goal?
3. What is your brand tone? Try this exercise: “We are ____ but not ____.” For example, we are informative but not boring.
4. What is your reputation in your industry and your community? What do people think of when they think of your brand/product/service?
5. Where is your target audience on social media (Facebook, Insta, etc.)? Are they still easily reached where you thought they were?
6. Are people still reading your blog?
7. What customer problem do you solve?
8. Do you sell through fear, inspiration, or solving a problem? Does that course of action still work for you?
9. What is the open rate on your newsletter? Has that changed with the pandemic?
10. Are you using a tracker that shows you where people are clicking on your website and/or newsletter? If yes, where are they clicking and where aren’t they clicking? What does that tell you about their needs?
11. Do you have an email list?
12. What data are you currently tracking and what are you doing with it?
13. What kind of content do your customers like best/have the most interaction with?
14. How many active followers do you have on each social media platform you participate on? How has that changed with COVID?
15. Do your customers enjoy a type of content you are not providing such as podcasts or videos?
16. What story are you telling?
17. How much does your average customer cost?
18. What are your customer retention strategies and how are you implementing them?
19. How has your product or service evolved over the past year? How has your marketing message changed? Does it need to?
20. What’s your call to action and does it fit where it is used? For instance, you don’t invite someone to buy when they’re just getting to know you on the About Us page of your website. Speaking of…
21. What are you doing to help people get to know, like, and trust you?
22. What part of your business is off-putting or scary for first-time buyers? What can you do to make it less so? For instance, gyms may be intimidating for the out-of-shape first timers. How can you reach them and be more inviting? A get-fit challenge is a solution to that because participants would know they’d be with other newbies.
23. Do you have a defined success metric for every campaign you implement?
24. In what area(s) is your competition falling short? In what areas are they strongest? How do you compare?
25. How many referrals (and/or reviews) are you getting? What vehicle/strategy are you using to get more?

These questions are easily answered but implementing the answers/solutions takes more planning. It’s a lot of work now but once you put it in, you’ll be glad you did.

4 Reasons To Get Involved with the Chamber Today

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

Businesses join the chamber of commerce for several reasons. Years ago, it may have been expected; just something you did when you opened a business and wanted to be in good standing in the community.

But these days it’s more likely a business joins because there is a direct advantage to them personally. Maybe they wanted a ribbon cutting or need the advocacy or wanted a marketing opportunity that membership allowed them.

Yes, there are many reasons to join the chamber and tons of benefits your business can receive from membership. But aside from simply writing a check and receiving a set of benefits, there are reasons why you should become personally involved with the local chamber of commerce.

Plus, the chamber extends its benefits to all of your employees so you can use chamber membership benefits as employee benefits. Share this with them as well.

4 Reasons to Get Involved with the Chamber
Let’s place the advocacy, marketing, advertising, and public relations benefits of chamber membership on the back burner. This article is about what the chamber can do for you and your employees specifically, not the business. Yes, the chamber can bring more attention to your business, which can create more sales opportunities, but these benefits and this personal involvement are things that can help you outside of the business.

  • Education Opportunities
    The chamber has a number of education opportunities where you and your employees can learn about important matters for free (or at a very low cost). Chamber webinar topics may include things like diversity, how to excel in social media, and economic interests in your area. They can help you become a more well-rounded professional, change careers, or get up-to-date on important topics in the community.
  • Leadership Experience
    The chamber offers a lot of opportunities to volunteer for different committees or events. You may find a volunteer position in a subject that interests you like women leaders, diversity, workforce development, or marketing. Not only can these volunteer positions be added to your resume, but volunteering could also help you meet people with similar interests and help you grow your professional network. Speaking of…
  • Networking
    Getting involved with the chamber can help you meet more people and grow your professional network and make friendships. Even in communities where social gatherings are still mostly virtual, chambers have networking sessions to help you stay connected.
  • Business Expansion and Hidden Opportunities
    As you grow your network, you may learn of additional business possibilities that you could add to your business or you could use to launch a new one. You may learn of seed money, grants, SBA funding, or private opportunities. Often business deals get made before anything is formally published or requested. Being personally involved in the chamber may help you be a part of those types of discussions and make you aware of opportunities before they become public. The same may be true of the hidden job market. A contact may tell you they’re looking for someone before posting it on a job site, giving you the advantage.

Chamber benefits for your business are amazing. They can really help you increase your number of customers and get your name out there. But those aren’t the only benefits. If you get involved individually, there are many benefits to your professional growth and career. Plus, those benefits can be given to all of your employees too. That can be a real selling point for someone looking for a great company culture.

Three Things in Business That Aren’t Worth It

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

We only have so many hours in the day so the last thing you want to do is spend time doing things that aren’t worth the time. Being labeled as “not worth the time” doesn’t mean they are annoying to do. In fact, some of the things you’re doing in your business may be very enjoyable but aren’t worth the effort in that you don’t get the return out of the time you’re investing.

Every hour of your business day is valuable.

You want what you do to move you closer to your goals. But some things we do in the name of our business don’t have the same benefits of other things we could be doing with our time. As a businessperson you should always be performing a cost/benefit analysis.

3 Things in Business That Aren’t Worth It

The things in this list are items that are generally not worth your time, but you’ll need to do the analysis yourself before deciding whether you will continue to do these activities as part of your workday or sunset them for a more productive use of your time.

Spending Copious Amounts of Time on the Coolest “New” Social Media

Whether a social media site is worth spending time and interacting on depends largely on your audience. If your ideal customer is there and you can engage them, it’s worth it. If they’re not, it’s not.

There’s no reason to get on a social network so you can be an early adopter and wait for your ideal customer to get on the site. The only way this makes sense is when your audience looks to you to tell them what the next “cool” or techy thing is.

Spending Money on Free Things

Thanks to our giveaway economy, there are a lot of free options out there for things you use in your business every day. If you’re just starting out, there are items you absolutely should pay for. And then there are items (especially software) where a freemium item could work for you…at least until your needs grow. Using Google docs instead of Word is an example. This may seem like a small expense but every dollar you save on something you can get for free can go toward the items where your monetary investment is very important.

Staying up Late

Have you ever stayed up hours past your bedtime to finish a project? Sometimes it’s just what you have to do. However, sleep deprivation comes with a high price. You’ll likely sacrifice tomorrow’s productivity to meet your deadline today. It’s much better to chip away at the project bit by bit than it is to put it off until right before it is due and then work most of the night on it.

True, most adults don’t plan on this type of course of action. And it might feel like you have no choice but to do it at the last minute. However, unless this project was completely unexpected, each time you agree to do one thing over the other, you’re making a choice based on importance to you.

If you analyze both requirements on your time and you make a decision that one is more important than the other, and then defer the project until it becomes an urgent need, and a sleepless night, so be it. But don’t let someone else dictate that for you.

Set clear expectations. A customer who wants a timely answer doesn’t know what else you’re working on. Do your best to balance their needs and the needs of your business by letting them know when you will have an update for them. Then check back in even if you don’t have a resolution.

If you have a boss, or are otherwise not in charge of scheduling your own workload, and they give you an ASAP project clarify that it bumps everything else. Be clear about what projects are in jeopardy by doing that.

Being upfront about the demands on your time will help set expectations and minimize sleepless nights. If you fail to do this, you will be exhausted and turning in subpar work. No one wants to sacrifice sleep to make a deadline, only to turn something in that will need to be redone later. This doesn’t benefit anyone.

When it comes to your business, you need to make the most of your day. Avoiding these activities—and others that don’t provide good return on your time investment—is a solid business approach. Look for things that impact your productivity and weed them out of your schedule.