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CEO JOURNAL


HR’s New Frontier: Retention T


DAN MARCUS, TDC CONSULTING INC., AMHERST, WISCONSIN


he U.S. labor situation is confusing. According to the President and his allies, the


unemployment rate is heading for historic lows and job creation is (and has been) strong. But if you listen to the opposition, they’ll tell you the real unemployment rate is much higher, the problem is under-report- ed, and 10 million would-be workers are out there looking for jobs. And then there is the situation on


the ground in your town, which may line up with one or the other scenarios or none of the above. Some metalcast- ers are having little trouble recruit- ing new workers, others are having a more difficult time. T’was ever thus, you might say, but no—this time is different. Tings have fundamentally changed, and those changes will be with us for a long time. Let’s begin by setting the


jobs have been added. For metalcasters, these trends mean that most of the actively unemployed and under-employed are looking for jobs higher up the wage scale than the entry level work metalcasting generally has to offer. Thus, economic factors have caused major quantitative and qualitative changes in the supply of prospective production workers for our industry. Moreover, new but now fully


emerged social factors are making the labor situation even more com- plex and our industry’s challenge different and far greater than it has been. These factors have shifted the dominant HR challenge from


logical evidence suggests that these and most other “fully formed and ready-to-work” candidates are gone, never to return. Tis reality is playing itself out in our industry right now, as metalcasters are able to get people in the door but are unable to retain them long enough to grow them into suc- cessful, long-term employees. Now it’s always been the case that


record straight. On the one hand, it is indeed true that the standard unemployment metric (referred to by econo- mists as U-3) is low and has been steadily improving, so the President is correct. On the other hand, the most meaningful measure (known as U-6) tells of a combined unemployment and under-employment problem of more than twice the size of the standard U-3 number. As important (and none of the politicians or propagandists are talking about this), the nature of the typical unemployed person has changed since the Great Recession. As a result of that economic calam- ity, roughly 5.2 million jobs were lost, with 3.8 million of them being “mid-wage” jobs and only 1.4 million being “lower wage” jobs like foundry work. Since then, the recovery has been equally uneven but in the oppo- site direction—more than 2 million lower wage jobs have been created while fewer than 1 million mid-wage


36 | MODERN CASTING June 2015


Economic and social factors have shifted the dominant HR challenge from


recruitment to retention.


recruitment to retention. In other words, and despite all the political propaganda and economic mumbo- jumbo, a pool of candidates still does exist out there for us to hire from but beware—they are not the candidates we have long known and come to expect. They are, in fact, so little like past candidates that they require a different approach to recruit and a hugely greater level of commitment in order to retain. And we must retain them. Troughout the 20th century, our


industry benefited from the exodus of young men off their family’s farm who came to metalcasting with a remarkable work ethic, a unique knowledge base and a natural apti- tude for working. Today, the socio-


many who come to work in met- alcasting wash out in the first hours or days, but given today’s economic and social realities, we no longer have the luxury of complacency about low retention rates. Instead, we need to do our very best to make every new hire a successful long-term employee. Given a diminished and different pool of candidates as well as the extremely high cost to hire, train and endure the scrap new em- ployees inevitably generate, we literally cannot afford to do otherwise. So, instead of waiting


for the return of yesterday’s workers, metalcasters need to gear up to hire and retain today’s unemployed and under-employed. And do-


ing so requires a renewed emphasis on retention, as most of these prospective employees will need a lot of help after they are hired in order to become successful at work. For example, they may need to learn to read or have no means of getting to/from work. Tey may speak a language other than English, or need help overcoming a criminal past, or need help getting along as a woman in a traditionally male world. Going forward, retention must be a new and major focus for CEOs and their HR departments and will be further detailed in the next “CEO Journal.”


Keep the conversation going. Reach the author at tdcconsulting@outlook.com to comment on this or any CEO Journal column or to suggest topics for future columns.


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