The topic of labor has been front and center for quite some time now inside and outside of this industry.
But it wasn’t until the recent Thanksgiving holiday break that it really hit home as to just how bad the current situation is.
While waiting for my daughter to finish a recent fitness class, I decided to run a quick errand to mail a package. While driving down this road in an industrial park setting, business after business had roadside signs looking for labor — virtually every business on this busy road.
One of the local grocery stores was offering next-day pay for new employees (I hope current employees are afforded the same benefit there). The ice cream parlor that churns out a rather good product in the Chicago area had reduced Sunday hours — not opening until 2 p.m. due to lack of help.
The office supplies store we were at on a Saturday night to get the family Christmas card produced, one day later was no longer accepting any inbound orders, only pickups, due to lack of staffing. That same ice cream parlor I just wrote about — its affiliate next to the office supplies store had a sign at the front desk apologizing to customers for lack of employees. The adjoined burger joint up the stairs was offering either a $150 or a $500 gift card for coming to work for them.
The gas station in town with the fancy car wash is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus, while the school bus depot by the house is now offering a starting wage as high as $22 (it was $15 probably 18 months ago) with a $2,500 sign-on bonus.
I could go on and on and on.
At our recently completed NETWORK2021 event in Las Vegas (a big thank you to the more than 700 attendees who joined us), labor again was a frequent conversation topic.
ASA’s monthly sales report (a free benefit to our distributor members) has a section where members can leave a brief synopsis on how they see the current business landscape.
From the most recent report (again, available in the MyASA section at ASA.net for ASA member distributor companies free of charge):
“Inflation, supply chain and people/hiring issues continue.”
“Seeing a strengthening in the industry, but having a hard time with finding employees.”
“We are having problems obtaining qualified employees.”
And these comments are in the midst of most companies in our industry reporting they are having robust and even record-performing years.
How can ASA help?
ASA has been hard at work on a variety of initiatives tied into this current labor conundrum. At the forefront is our PROJECT TALENT careers recruitment platform part of ASA’s Building One Future long-term strategy.
When ASA was in the infancy of getting Building One Future off the ground, we asked a small group of volunteer leaders what will be the three biggest challenges facing the industry in the next 10 years. Labor was one of them, more so on making sure we replenish the droves of employees who will exit the industry due to retirements and with it take their decades of industry knowledge/expertise with them.
Thus, PROJECT TALENT was born. Two key pieces to this: ASA member companies have the ability to post open jobs on an industry-specific SupplyIndustryCareers.com website. That site (created by ASA PROJECT TALENT partner Harger Howe, a well-known careers recruitment marketing agency out of Boston) is then turned around and strategically blasted to places where sought-after job seekers tend to congregate (folks who have recently left the military, people looking for second careers, etc.).
The second piece here is access to a free recruiter toolbox that arms ASA member companies with the marketing assets needed to help them in their hiring journey. Say you saw a competitor using social media to hire to folks. Maybe you don’t have it in the budget to hire an outside firm or don’t have someone on staff to execute something like that. The toolbox will give you the assets/templates needed to get that social media hiring campaign off the ground. Again, free to ASA member companies.
Two other areas where ASA can help. In the fall, ASA commissioned a pair of special industry compensation/benefits studies. The results of the first survey already have been released — free if you contributed data to it and $299 if you are an ASA member company that did not contribute data (the study is available to non-ASA member companies at a higher cost).
The first report focuses mainly on warehouse and driver compensation levels, and also hits on inside, outside and showroom sales positions.
Another key ingredient to this first study is data on what companies are doing in terms of incentives for hiring employees (sign-on bonuses, etc.).
Data collection for the second study started earlier this month and the report will be available to folks the first week of January.
If you would like information on how to obtain the first study or how to participate in the current one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other item I would like to mention is ASA’s PROJECT VITALITY company growth assessment tool. This free and confidential survey assesses how ASA member companies are in terms of readiness for future growth. For example, is your company great at long-term strategic planning? The survey will let you know. There are questions to be answered by C-suite/executive management folks and questions to be answered by frontline employees, giving your company a great cross-section of responses/data.
I would highly recommend taking advantage of this survey. To hire an outside firm to conduct a study like this would cost thousands. ASA has invested significant funds into this project so member companies can take the survey free of charge through the end of 2021 (In January there will be a fee involved to take the survey).
For more details on how to access the survey and how to set up your confidential post-survey consultation with ASA partner New Edge about your individual company results, contact me at email@example.com.
This survey could very well help your unearth intel that can help you make your company even more attractive to perspective employees.
My gut tells me this labor thing isn’t going away anytime soon, so the more we can put our heads together as an industry and come up with potential solutions to this, the better off we will all be moving forward.
Happy Holidays from everybody here at ASA!