Todd Palmer is our guest blogger this week. Todd founded Diversified Industrial Staffing, a company that provides staffing solutions for manufacturing, construction and logistics businesses, and Diversified PEOple, a professional employer organization for small businesses. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Detroit Chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization, and is recent graduate of the Birthing of Giants class held at MIT.
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Todd also maintains a blog on his company's website. Read it here.
This past week I've talked about the economic climate of the state and
where it's headed, but now it's time for some advice. Any major
transitions the state makes are going to be difficult on companies and
workers alike, but there are some things people can do on both ends of
the employment spectrum to help things transition more smoothly.
For employers of all sizes, the key is keeping your employees
happy. To attract and retain top candidates, companies need to go the
extra mile for their workers. Staffing companies can help you find the
right people, but it's up to the employers to keep them happy with
All of the research that I have reviewed indicates that employees
don't leave a job for money—they leave because the either do not like
their boss or feel unappreciated by the company they are working for.
I think that recognizing an employee's measurable contribution to an
organization is KEY to creating a culture of recognition, as well as
perpetuates a feeling of employee good will and loyalty. The typical
big business answer of throwing more money at an employee to keep him
or her happy is antiquated and outdated. Both public and private
recognition can go along way with an internal workforce.
As for job seekers, the hard truth is your going to have to make
some concessions, or risk becoming chronically unemployable. Some
people are less likely to take lower-paying jobs because they feel they
are worth more. Those firmly grounded in Michigan will have to lose
their sense of entitlement. More and more companies are expecting
people to do more for less, and smaller businesses cannot afford the
legacy costs and large benefit packages previously offered by large
employers. The good news is, there is an under publicized shortage of
skilled workers. Michiganders have the legitimate option to seek
re-education to improve upon their skill sets, allowing them to become
more marketable in the local job market. For those unwilling to change
their mindsets, relocation is one option to consider, since the high
paying low skill/semi skilled jobs aren't coming back anytime soon.
We're going to have to work together, but we can make it through this economic storm and come out okay on the other side
With how lay offs are being heavily touted in Michigan, it seems
like there's no sign of things improving anytime soon. That's not true.
In fact, all signs point to, believe it or not, a shortage of employee
talent in the upcoming years. Instead of no jobs, we will have a major
labor shortage on our hands. Why?
Generation X and Generation Y do not have a great interest in
working with their hands, like the baby boomers did, and the baby
boomer generation is getting ready to retire. Furthermore, Job
candidates become confused when they hear about the outsourcing of
labor jobs. Companies still need the skilled trade's people here in the
USA. Companies are outsourcing the low skilled/semi skilled jobs, not
the higher skilled, higher paying jobs.
Already I am seeing the effects of this generational gap in my work.
I search daily to fill openings in several areas, including skilled
trade's machinists, machine repair people, and machine builders,
because the older workers are retiring and there are very few young
workers available to replace them.
Conversely, even when the young skilled-labor workers are available,
some companies might be hesitant to bring them on. Hiring managers are
often reluctant to recognize that employees aren't going to only work
for 1 or 2 companies over the course of their career. Many clients we
work with feel that someone should be "loyal to the company". That is
completely outdated thinking. Generation's X & Y think its normal
to move jobs every 3 years, or so.
These companies will have to change their mindset when their
standards make it impossible to find good candidates over the upcoming
years. But by then, it may be too late, as the companies reputation is
sullied by their unreasonable standards. Nothing attracts talent as
well as word of mouth from satisfied employees.
You might hear me say there are jobs in Michigan if you know where
to look and I'm sure a lot of people want to say "Okay, where should I
It's important to keep in mind the type of jobs that are out there,
the kind that are constantly looking to be filled. While the "dream
jobs" might not be available like they used to, jobs are still jobs. I
firmly believe anyone in Michigan with a college education who wants a
job can find one. The data backs that assertion up- less than 2% of
college educated people in Michigan are unemployed. It's the low
skilled, blue-collar workers that may have a difficultly finding the
jobs that can best use their minimal skills.
Even so, certain industries, such as logistics, are still growing.
Two weeks ago, Artisan Associates Inc. and National Logistics
Management, two large logistics companies announced plans to merge by
the end of the year. As a result of this merger, the newly formed
company is expected to double in size in the near future.
I hate to say "I told you so," but despite what major media outlets
are constantly reporting, not every job market in Michigan is
Global Insight, and economic forecasting organization, predicts the
trucking industry will grow nearly 3.4% annually for the next decade,
by the end of which there will be a need for nearly 320,000 new
drivers. That's a lot of new jobs. Sure, they won't all be in Michigan,
but as this merger shows, the state will definitely see the benefits of
this growing industry.
When presidential-hopeful Barack Obama recently visited the
Detroit-area, one of the main issues he addressed was the need for the
large employers within the Michigan economy to bring jobs back to the
area. Political pundits can debate whether or not Obama was simply
pandering to his audience by talking about restoring the Big 3, but
it's obvious to me that's all most people around Detroit want to hear.
What people don't seem to realize is that our state's economy is in
the rough shape it's in right now because of the Big 3 and their
inability to adapt to a changing world economy. While sections of daily
newspapers continue to be dedicated to watching every little
development with these three companies, little attention is given to
what else the state can do to recover without being dependent on them.
We're in a crisis, and when people are in a crisis they tend to
panic and make hasty decisions without thinking about the long-term
consequences. A lot of people are out of work, and it's understandable
that their top concern is getting back to work as soon as possible. The
problem is, if the government simply bails out the Big 3 or the car
business picks up to the point of reopening plants, there's no
guarantee this won't all collapse again in just a few years. The legacy
costs for these jobs are just too enormous to be competitive in a
There's no reason to abandon efforts to repair the Big 3, but
simultaneously we need to be looking at ways to remove our dependency
on them. The old adages about learning from mistakes, and history
repeating itself all apply, but nobody seems to be listening. The
system has broken down and everyone has felt the effects. If we don't
do anything different in the future, why should we expect different
Like finding a needle in a haystack, sometimes you have to look
really hard to see the good things happening in Michigan's job market.
The mainstream media is certainly not going to help you along the way.
If anything, they make the haystack "appear" bigger. Obviously large
company employers in Michigan have seen better days. Right now people
need to know things can get better, and the truth is that they are
getting better, if you know where to look.
Good or bad, big numbers make headlines, especially when it comes to
jobs. When Pfizer downsizes or GM closes another plant, newspapers
plaster the ideas all over the front page. Good news in the job market
rarely receives so much attention, and even when the news is good, only
the big numbers are the ones you're likely to hear about.
What is rarely in the news, but just as important, are the single
positions added by various small companies and entrepreneurships. Each
of these spots puts another qualified individual back to work and
furthers the growth of Michigan's future. Big companies make headlines,
but if business shifts in one direction these jobs can be gone just as
quickly as they are introduced, but small companies are not as affected
by a single business trend. The new Michigan economy will not be held
up by three big corporations, but by thousands of small businesses.