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Why would anyone work for you?

By James Cryer

Retaining candidates / employees has become an increasing issue in the printing industry. Therefore it is important for employers to look at a whole range of benefits - not all monetary - when they seek to attract, and retain good candidates - one of the toughest challenges currently facing us, as an industry.

We, as an industry, with our historical pre-occupation with technical issues, have not always been exemplary at being good "employers" - and sometimes our focus on chasing and retaining valued customers has taken our eye away from an inwards glance, and on the value of building strong relationships with our own staff.

The real test, to be faced by all employers seeking staff is - "Why would anyone work for my company?"

There is a certain default assumption that most candidates would automatically join a company if asked. That may have been the historical model, but not any more, given the paucity of good candidates. Some proprietors may find the above question confronting, but it goes to the core of what candidates are seeking when they apply for a job.

In the search for that elusive "new employee", asking the above question is now a necessary starting point in re-defining yourself as an "employer of choice" - not just as a good printer!

Why would they be attracted to your organisation over the dozens (hundreds?) of other printing companies who are all seeking staff. It's a good business discipline to go through a self-audit, and see yourself (and your company) through the eyes of a newcomer.

What career opportunities can you genuinely offer?
Do you always follow up on commitments to staff?
Can you offer employment flexibility if/when needed?
Is an attempt made to meet the newcomer's family?
Do you offer opportunities for attendance at training courses?
Are there any bonus or profit-sharing opportunities?
Do you (the boss) personally meet and mentor all new members, and/or designate someone?
Is the newcomer introduced to everyone on arrival, and made to feel welcome?
Are there guidelines given to new members about the company, its products, services, etc?
Is there a genuine review and opportunity to gain feedback from the new employee?
Are there appropriate OH&S standards in place, and are employees encouraged to offer suggestions, air grievances, etc?

The list is endless and every company creates its own unique formula. The point is, "good" candidates do ask questions about their new "host" company. They ask me, they talk to colleagues (including the ubiquitous paper reps) and they form opinions about prospective employers.

The pendulum has now swung into their corner: it's a sellers' market. It's now the candidates who can selectively "pick'n'pack" an employer of their choice. Hence the need to re-define ourselves, as not only "good quality printers" but also as "best practice employers."

The employment equation is different now. The onus is now on the employer to have suitable strategies in place to attract - and retain - good staff. It's much cheaper in the long run.

W. James Cryer
JDA Print Recruitment