January 25, 2009

It’s Time to Trade Up

By Paul Bieber

Eleven million men and women are unemployed in the US. 7.2% of the workforce, one in fourteen are looking for work. And you are keeping your weakest employee because “he may improve”. Why are you keeping the one in your office who has more excuses for coming in late than you could imagine?

Hello—are you there? Now is the time to look at your workforce and trade-up.

Yes, trade-up. There are people who are out of work through no fault of their own. The economy has kicked you in the teeth. Trading-up is the way to take advantage of tough times. You told your employees that they had to take a wage freeze and there would be no new hires for a while. You didn’t say that everybody was guaranteed to keep their job. If you have ten people working with you, with a trade-up, you will still have ten people.

Everybody has a weak employee, the one you kind-of-feel-sorry-for and you keep on the payroll. Stop it. I know it feels good to help, but you are doing so at the risk of hurting your whole company. In good times you could do this. Not now. Let the weak link go, give a severance if you can, and don’t block unemployment insurance.

Help wanted advertising is so thin now, that a simple ad will bring in good resumes and good people. Take your time interviewing, making sure that you get a winner. You will be gaining an employee who understands what it is like to be out of work, and won’t take their job for granted.

This will impact your entire work force positively. They will see that you are serious about the survival of your company. They will work hard to equal the tone set by the new hire. They will appreciate the fact that you are working to save the company and their jobs.

You will find many qualified candidates for your company. You may see that you can go after a slice of the market you didn’t have before. An experienced person can come in and help train your current staff in their specialty.

Just today, Home Depot announced they were closing their EXPO Design Centers. Go there now, tonight, and shop for a shower door or a table top. Watch the various salespeople and see who is good, who understands the product. Give that person your card and tell them to see you when they are out of work. If you are not near an EXPO store, watch the news for businesses in your area that are closing. You will find a gem working and smiling at customers, even when they know the store is closing.

After one successful trade-up your staff will understand that your company needs hard working people. If not, it is trade up time again.