Hard to Hire

How to stop getting ghosted

24-year-old Hunter is confused. He’s looking for a job, but after two supposedly successful interviews he’s still in the hiring process. In fact, he is in the same multi-interview process with three other companies, all of which have told him repeatedly how interested they are in him. But if he is such a perfect fit for the corporate world, why is he still at home gaming online all day with dudes in Finland?

Hunter’s opinion is that these companies are much more interested in questioning his worthiness than understanding why he is right for the job. He feels undervalued by organizations that have not even hired him yet! He’s starting to think about quitting a job he has not officially been offered. He thinks, “Maybe I can just take some time off”—whatever that means when you don’t have a job—“or go back and get a master’s degree.”

Because Hunter lives at home (with parents who are actually kind of glad he still lives with them), he does not have any significant bills to pay. Getting a job is what society tells him he needs to do, but it is not in any way what he actually has to do. If you’re thinking Hunter’s circumstances are rare, you’re not aware of what is now a cultural norm; Pew Research reports that 52% of young adults (ages 18-29) in the U.S. now live with their parents.

Between long, often confusing hiring practices that make sensitive young people feel “pre- rejected” and minimum motivation to get out and start an independent life, companies will need to dramatically and quickly change their approach to hiring. Below are three tips that have proved effective in helping organizations hire the young workers they need right now. 

  1. Hire faster. These days, if you cannot make a decision on a candidate after two interviews, the issue is likely your hiring process and not the candidate. If you don’t speed up your hiring, expect to be ghosted often, even by those who’ve accepted the job. Remember that when you’re young, the future is next week.
  2. Engage at first sight. Make it extremely obvious how valuable these promising young candidates are to your organization and how their specific talents and abilities can help your company to succeed. Also let them know how their job (and they themselves) will make a difference in the world. People in their 20s are very literal; they will not believe you genuinely value them unless you specifically state it.
    2.5. Pause for the cause. Making young candidates watch an 18-minute orientation video that they cannot pause is a guaranteed way to make them not feel valuable during recruiting or onboarding. Considering they can pause Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and every other video on earth, it makes them feel you don’t know who they are. If there’s one cause all young people can get behind, it’s the pause.
  3. Remove repetition. Young candidates complain of being strung along. Giving them Birkman-ish tests and assessments that ask the exact same questions you asked in a phone/onsite interview makes them feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure your hiring process moves forward in an orderly fashion and it’s not just a random “gauntlet” of approval.

With the complexities of young people believing the company they’re applying to should have unwavering fairness and a flexible work environment, the real barrier to finding good people (according to the most qualified candidates themselves) is that getting hired seems unnecessarily demoralizing and annoying. And that’s not paraphrasing—that’s exactly what they’ve said! In a series of casual interviews over six months, we were shocked to hear repeatedly from 20- to 32-year-old job candidates that the interview process was humiliating, something they’d prefer not to do if they could find a way around it. Not only did the bad job-search experience drive many to consider doing something with their future besides working; it also was the leading cause of underemployment for those with educations in specific fields. In short, don’t be surprised to learn that your Uber driver has a master’s degree.

We’re not totally off base if we blame employee shortages on the employees themselves. And there’s certainly some truth to the lack of candidates out there: almost half (48%) of unemployed young adults are not looking for a full-time job, reports the Brookings Institute. But it’s interesting that so many of those candidates point to the hiring process as the real culprit. Admittedly, it’s not easy to match the expectations of those who’ve been groomed to expect a lot. Still, we must make sure that in our desperate attempt to get it right, we have not actually increased our chances of getting it wrong.

The Real Truth About Safety Leadership

How Focusing on Strengths and Reducing Stress Creates a Culture of Awareness

Not so long ago, we mistakenly felt compliance was the key to safety. We believed that if we could just get Bobby to pay attention to what he was doing, we would win the safety award (that we just invented). The plan was to tell stressful stories of fatalities, complete with a 20-minute video that was 17 minutes too long. If we could include a sad story that caused immediate anxiety, we just knew the message had to stick.

To be clear, I do agree that people have to be held to a standard. I also might emphasize that accountability to a specific set of procedures is the framework of any good safety program. But all research points to one undeniable truth about human behavior: if you focus only on people’s weaknesses, they will ultimately feel weak! They will typically feel less confident or — perhaps worse — become complacent, which can lead them to emotionally check out and lose their natural awareness. 

So, when you sit Bobby down and say, “Hey, let me tell you the five ways you suck at safety,” pay attention to the look in Bobby’s eyes. Like a seven-year-old caught misbehaving on the playground who believes the other kids should be accused with him, Bobby is not learning a better behavior that will become a habit. In fact, the lesson learned is “My boss does not support me as a person and stresses me out.”

Okay, this is the point at which a decent percentage of industrial jobsite veterans will say, “We can’t baby people these days with COVID and staff shortages going on! They need to suck it up and deal with the reality of their failed actions.” But if the vast majority of people responded to that approach, they would all have learned from every mistake, and we wouldn’t have incidents. Long ago, some distracted caveman would have tripped over a rock, been scolded in the lost language of Cavemanese, changed his ways, and created unlimited safety for all eternity.

If that example seems silly, it’s because it is! It’s absurd to think that telling people what they ought to do creates a sustainable culture of awareness. Many people in that situation would simply leave that meeting feeling bitter and unappreciated. And for the record, if you’re resentful because someone’s telling you to change your behavior, you are not very likely to do it. Additionally, resentment is one of the most common causes of stress and poses a notable threat to workplace safety.

The foundation of employee engagement is believing that your direct supervisor supports you. The way a supervisor proves that support is to first tell employees the things they are doing well, before addressing what they need to work on. It’s an old-fashioned concept called “being supportive.” This is the type of low stress leadership style that creates a sustainable culture. But these direct leaders (and all leaders) have to be on the same page. If everyone has a different agenda, you don’t have a culture!

People don’t work for companies or ideals or concepts; they work for front-line supervisors. That experience is what the job feels like day to day. 

But why would that daily experience have any bearing on safety or performance? People who feel supported have a better cognitive response and a higher level of awareness. They are less complacent and more likely to do the right thing. And the effects don’t stop with just the individual employee. When leaders treat their people with support, those employees tend to treat each other in supportive ways; they watch each other’s backs and become safer overall as a group. Yes, even Bobby (and for the record, no one named Bobby was injured during the writing of this article) becomes part of a culture that believes “safety is not just a goal… it’s a lifestyle!”         

The end result of this kind of culture is, oddly enough, compliance. You have to actually create a space where a compliant culture can exist rather than just telling employees compliance is something they need to do. To get safety to happen every day, we have to do what really works — not just what we believe should work.

EHS Today (research reference)  https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/how-engaged-workers-are-safe-employees

A Hopefully “Not-Too-Brave” New World

3 things we learned (relearned) about safety from COVID    

Over the past couple of years, more people than ever think safety is important — even Jimmy, who never wore his safety glasses when the boss wasn’t looking and once proclaimed “I am way too smart to get hurt”, is now talking about situational awareness and PPE. During the height of the pandemic, without warning, he was spraying hand sanitizer on other people’s hands!

Although this heightened awareness of safety seems beneficial for getting people to buy into a safety culture, we have to wonder if this will improve things long term. Here are three things that should take us beyond COVID and into a world with a new belief in the importance of safety.

  1. Safety can be rolled out quickly and effectively. The time of COVID has proven that it does not take a year to build a sustainable safety culture (and that sometimes impatience is a virtue).
  2. Direct/frontline supervisor buy-in is the absolute key to a daily, boots-on-the-ground safety culture. If frontline leaders have employee engagement skills, then your safety program will stick! If you want your culture to be sticky, you have to spread it through the right people (okay, I could have worded that differently).
  3. Safety is part of who we are — survivors. The human race (and even Jimmy) has the ability to adapt, and we have seen how being set in our ways leads to failure. In short, complacency breeds arrogance: when you stop getting better, you start screwing up!

As we cautiously (and I’m using the word “cautiously” cautiously) move into the post-COVID world, we come out much safer than we went in! The goal now is to implement what we know will work. Equally as important, we emerge with a new mission to finally see safety as something we all believe is a core value that individuals (and organizations) can make happen every day.

Safety Programs: https://www.motivational-speaker-success.com/topics/safety/


Action and Adaptability Create Safety

The actions we take today and our ability to be flexible enough to succeed will help to ensure that COVID-19 eventually becomes a historical footnote that those of us in the safety realm have helped our organization, employees and loved ones to overcome.

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