News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 7, 2013

Where are the worker bees?

Heather Strohm
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — In the midst of such economic times as this country has recently encountered and still currently battles, many local, regional and national businesses are seeing a decline in the quality of workforce. There are several companies spread in Clay, Vermillion, Vigo and Sullivan counties that have fairly high-paying positions available but cannot locate quality workers. The workers that apply have a low skillset, low work ethic and are unmotivated. I firmly believe that quality workers are out there or are just on the horizon, but how can a firm match job opportunities with these workers?

One of the initial things that employers should realize is the difference between education and learning. Education is a model designed with the mindset that one size fits all. Learning is a model that focuses on the student and the output of the student. As an employer, although education is critical for fundamental development and to provide a foundation for a position, the learning aspect truly needs to be embraced.

Locally, the Wabash Valley has a nice Workforce Development office that provides training and employment assistance to both companies, as well as qualified individuals. As an employer, you should be aware of what criteria applicants need to meet for eligibility and to perform their job responsibilities to the expectations required. Have you developed a job description for the position you need to fill? Do you provide on-the-job training? Do you have a mentor in place for new hires?

In addition, it is also important to identify the age bracket of worker being selected for a position. Believe it or not, every age of worker falls into one of four categories: millennial, generation x, baby boomer or traditionalist. You may ask, “Why must I know this information to fill a position?” The answer is simple: everyone is motivated differently. One of the primary motivators for the youngest generation in the workforce is to have a profound impact on who they are helping and the work they are providing. Explain to the worker about the impact.

On the other end of the spectrum, baby boomers are motivated by financial and job security. Can you understand the differences in how motivation for each generation can play into attracting and retaining quality workers?

Whether it is an online class format or a traditional face-to-face format, please ensure workers in your industry have adequate skills. There are many learning and educational outlets locally to assist you in attracting and retaining the correct workers. By spending additional time identifying your company needs, you will reduce turnover, increase productivity, increase revenue and ultimately increase profit.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.