Labor Shortage Not as Hopeless As Many Believe

You're competing with other types of businesses for qualified workers, so it's wise to get a different perspective on how to make your company more attractive to prospective employees.

Dick Detmer

The strong US labor market and the scarcity of workers has resulted in formidable challenges for almost every kind of business. Some rental business owners feel strongly that their business growth has been restricted by the low unemployment rate and not being able to find qualified people. Certainly the labor shortage is a pervasive, hot-button issue for equipment rental companies. Here are some suggestions to help deal with this challenge. 

Try to make your company a more desirable place to work.

You're competing with other types of businesses for qualified workers, so it's wise to get a different perspective on how to make your company more attractive to prospective employees. Workers have so many options. For many of them, only part of their employment decision is based on compensation. There are many factors unrelated to compensation that workers consider before accepting a job offer.

For example, some workers crave a position with a company in which they can perform duties which are not as boring or monotonous as the jobs they currently hold, and many applicants want and could handle higher-level job responsibilities. Some rental business managers have not been trained to delegate and empower their employees with substantive, higher-level duties, and when these are not delegated, it's unlikely employees with tremendous potential will see their positions at rental companies as anything more than temporary gigs. Is it any wonder that people with good potential move on?

Of course, be certain that your compensation offerings are where they need to be. There might be some room to enhance them. It's wise to try a fresh approach to entice workers to apply to your company. If you’ve been fishing in the same spot and are using the same lure and are not having any luck, that doesn’t mean the body of water doesn’t have any fish. Perhaps an analogy comparing workers to fish isn't perfect, but rental companies are pretty desperate to land good workers – and good employees in other occupations can be very desperate to find what you are offering - a fast-paced, satisfying career in a progressive equipment rental company. One of the keys is the presentation of the opportunity. 

Also, be sure your current staff is trained to perform tasks with the most effective and efficient procedures. I've worked with my customers and their employees in these subject areas and at times have found that fewer workers are needed to produce the same (or better) results.

The topic of the labor shortage highlights the importance of an effective, employee retention program. Ask yourself what is being done at your rental company to keep your staff from drifting away. The possibilities and what works depends on a wide variety of factors and are company specific, but try not to become convinced that nothing can be done to slow the revolving door of employees coming and quickly exiting.

If employees do not have a comprehensive orientation and a solid initial training, they won’t be very likely to grasp the joy of working in a rental company. Also, having a more organized, systematic way of doing things in day-to-day business activities diminishes some of the out-of-control and extremely dissatisfying aspects of working in a rental business. I have found that when I help my customers in these areas, they tend to experience a noticeably smaller percentage of good employees leaving.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Don’t despair. There are plenty of people who are totally dissatisfied with their current jobs, so even in a tight labor market with an extremely low unemployment rate, there are people who are looking for a job.
  • Consider getting help with your “help wanted” advertising. Also, consider investing in training for the most effective hiring and interviewing techniques. It really can make a difference.
  • When you do find someone with excellent potential, be sure to prepare them for success and growth. People generally want to do a good job, so give them to tools to do so.

Remember, workers tend to go to work for the job but they leave (or stay) because of their manager. Be sure your leaders are well trained to excel in not only the technical portions of their positions but also the “people parts” as well.