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View from HR: Employers, job seekers shouldn’t delay making the hard choices

Never let daily urgencies crowd out the most important needs of your business, right?

Our most recent survey of member companies says we have our heads largely in the unproductive weeds again. There are lessons here for both employers and employees.

The primary survey message is the war for talent is heating up in a big way. Sometimes that means shortages in specialized skills and trades, or a scarcity of “top talent” in a field. Other times it means unavailability of qualified applicants at entry pay levels.

Our member survey ranked these as the top concerns this year: talent acquisition, talent retention, health care costs and employee compensation. Do you see a pattern?

We believe this means there are employers seeing increased demand for their products and services while they are paying too little attention to employee attraction, retention and compensation. If the recession is over for your customers, then it is also over for your current and potential employees!

Employee funnel

Who a business has to get the work done and satisfy market demands is where a business wins or loses. If this is true, then why are we so reactive in solving our talent needs?

I believe this is just today’s example of letting the urgent crowd out the important in our businesses. For example, we know a role is paid below market, but we do not spend the time to build the compensation case and gain leadership approval.

Additionally, we know that job boards and staffing companies are useful hiring tools, but they are insufficient when demand tightens. We also look at health care as an expense when it could become a key recruiting advantage for certain employers and roles.

Some of us focus well on creating an employee funnel, only to drop the baton when a new hire is passed to an unprepared manager. Talk about insanity! Where is the leadership needed to prevent this waste of resources and harm to the employer’s brand?

Plan of action

My point is your biggest challenges as an employer (or as an individual seeking employment) are often the last things you work hard to solve. If your company vision and values speak of important qualities and behaviors, show me the plan of action to attract and keep people who fit those behaviors. Stop the craziness of having a revolving door of key talent!

A similar change in behavior applies to job candidates. If you want to work for an employer who walks the talk, what are you doing to find them and make it easy for them to find you?

Whether it is a lack of time, experience or approval that is preventing important actions, the most impactful challenges on your plate deserve better. Fill your time and ability gaps by making some hard choices. Nothing worthwhile is easy!

Stop talking about what you need or want, and do something. I know this sounds basic, but it is a pervasive problem among both small and large employers and among employees who want to better themselves.

End your pattern at work of uselessly talking, griping, worrying, blaming, avoiding and meeting. Make the tough decisions, and get some important things done!

Bruce Clarke, J.D., is CEO of CAI, helping more than 1,000 North Carolina employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability. For more information, visit