We are Always Short Staffed – What the heck can I do about it?

Remnants of the Covid Pandemic.  The Great Resignation.  Reducing hours of operation – or closing altogether on some days – due to short staffing.  Help Wanted signs.  Lucrative signing bonuses.  It seems to be everywhere you turn, just about every business is in need of more people to return their operations to full capacity. 

The reasons given for this new phenomenon are varied.  Changing demographics reduces available workers due to retirement on one end and the exorbitant cost of child care squeezes the other.  Too much government assistance.  Demands for flexible working arrangements.  Nobody wants to work anymore.  The gig economy.  People have a new sense of value on work/life balance.  Organizations aren’t paying a living wage.  Whatever the reason(s), I think the answer can be found in doing three things right:  

  • Sourcing – finding the best available employees for your organization.
  • On-boarding – starting new employees in a way that builds job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Retaining – keeping the good employees you have today, and the new employees you hire today to stay longer.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore all three of the keys to staffing your organization.  Today, we dive into sourcing.  Sourcing new employees is the first step to addressing your staffing issues.  Even before the business shut-downs of the pandemic, employees were looking for more than just a job.  They were looking for a purpose and to be valued for their contribution.  Now, more than ever, they also want flexibility.  So how do you source the best possible candidates to join your organization?  Here are three ideas to optimize your sourcing efforts:

  1. Competitors – steal their good employees!  The labor shortage for other companies can be your gain!  Do your competitors have good employees who are unhappy for some reason?  Why are they dissatisfied?  Finding the answer to those questions can help you, and the currently dissatisfied employees, both win.  Are they unhappy with their non-flexible hours?  Promote your flexibility.  Do they not have the training to do their job well?  “You know who” (i.e., Orgwide) can help you maximize your training – including improving your on-boarding!  Promote the things you do for employees through social media or local news outlets to set yourself apart from your competitors. 
  1. Customers – ask them to refer their friends and relatives.  They already enjoy doing business with you and know that you run a great operation.  Ask them to be part of your recruiting efforts and help some of their friends or family find a great job. 

    Create a “fact sheet” of the reasons employees love working on your team to share with customers. 
  1. Team Member Referrals – often the best source of new employees is your current group of employees.  They are most likely to refer those who will “fit” your organization.  They know that you have great jobs, training and benefits.  And they probably know people who are unhappy with their current situation. 

    Give them talking points to share your company’s stories with their friends and family.  You can even use the same “fact sheet” you created for customers.  And offer referrals bonuses to incentivize your employees to bring others onboard.  Stretch those bonuses out to pay when you hire their referral, when that person reaches 30 days, and a final bonus when the new hire referral reaches 90 days of employment!

Once you’ve sourced the new candidates for your company, the next step is “making a good first impression” through a thoughtful and purposeful on-boarding experience.  We’ll cover that in next week’s blog.  We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you’d like to share with us – it’s easy to do by reaching us through our Contact Us page. 

How to Be a Good Manager in a Post-Pandemic Work Environment

For a lot of organizations, one of the biggest challenges stemming from the pandemic is adjusting to long-term work from home (WFH) arrangements alongside, or even displacing, working from the office (WFO). There is a cascade of adjustments that stem from this one difference, affecting virtually every aspect of work.

These challenges are especially concerning for managers, who have to navigate leadership roles in a new era. In order to ensure that team members are performing at their best even under extraordinary circumstances after the pandemic, here are a few tips for managers.

Plan for Equality in Scheduling

Probably the biggest shake-up caused by the WFH setup is what happens to personal and work-related schedules— especially for employees who are parents. In a BBC article, Melinda Gates asks whether gender equality at work will increase in this changing world. Jean-Nicolas Reyt of McGill University cites data that shows remote working mothers are balancing duties better, partly because fathers are taking on more.

Linkedin’s Rosanna Durruthy points out that leaders will need to step up and think about childcare working around the rapidly-disappearing 9-to-5 as it relates to both WFH and WFO. Equity also relates to areas like disability and racial health disparities, and poses challenges for a manager’s schedule, too, so if you want to respond to your team members’ needs, you need to build these into your hybrid plan.

Leadership That Values People

To expand on the previous point, it’s important that leadership be people-centric. Managers with organizational leadership qualifications are better able to blend skills in business and psychology for people-centered leadership. True leadership isn’t about eking the most numbers out of a team, but about prioritizing the value a person can bring to the company.

Prominent businesses with this philosophy include Marriott and Costco, both of which have withstood adversity for decades running against purely data- or shareholder-centric models. From making people-centered company policy decisions, to simply spending time among staff, there’s great value in this approach.

Keeping Employees Engaged

One area to pay attention to in a people-centric approach is engagement. Having engaged employees is part and parcel of creating consistent, quality output. We’ve previously written about how motivation also lowers absenteeism and improves in retention of high quality staff through things like showing appreciation and setting expectations. Creating a positive workplace culture, and therefore outcomes, is a major role that managers play, especially after the pandemic.

Focus On Wellbeing and Health

The pandemic has forced us all to check in with ourselves. Forbes reports that 66% of employees expect to be in a hybrid work style after the pandemic.

One of the biggest challenges of WFH for employees is stress relief. Software can be a double-edged sword from the management side here too: instead of using monitoring software to put pressure on team members, consider what the data says about their patterns and needs. Talking directly to employees using video calls, rather than through just emails or messages, will help put a much-needed human touch on proceedings. Managers can also implement de-stressing practices within the organization that different employees might prefer, such as yoga, meditation or book club.

All in all, solving existing and anticipated issues by centering your team and their relationships, rather than making them points on a graph, is key to a better, healthier, and more productive work culture out of the pandemic.

Written by Ivana Landen

Talking Dogs: Learning and Communication regardless of species

Every kid grows up wanting super powers or special abilities. When I was a kid, I wanted the ability to speak to and understand animals. I just needed to teach my beloved pets how to do it.  Well, my dream may be coming true!  I realized this very learning is (successfully) occurring right before our eyes when I discovered whataboutbunny on TikTok. My first introduction to this learning phenomenon, was a dog having an existential crisis. 

Standing by her vast array of audio buttons on the floor, Bunny the “sheepadoodle” decided to hit the button that says who, followed by the button saying this. She then padded to the mirror on the ground a few steps away, and gave herself a look. Her owner gasps and reiterates what was just said. “Did you just say ‘who this?’ and then look in the mirror?” The owner presses the who and this buttons, and then states, “That’s Bunny,” while hitting the button that says Bunny. Bunny listens, then goes to stare out the windowed door for a few sped up seconds while she processes. Bunny then returns to the board to hit the button that says help.

(Here’s the video, if you’d like to check it out for yourself! Bunny: Bringing you existential content since dogs could talk)

The Story of Two Dogs:  Bunny and Stella

After seeing this, I had to see more, so I did a deep-dive. The TikTok account currently has 7.1 million followers and over 168 million likes and was started by Bunny’s furr-mom, Alexis Devine. Devine was inspired to study speech pathology and how it’s taught to dogs by the first known person to pioneer it, Christina Hunger and her dog Stella. Hunger had been recording their foray into speech education on her Instagram account hunger4words. Hunger’s job requires her to help toddlers with speech and developmental delays communicate using Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC. Alternative means to speech could be writing, drawing, sign language, or in this case, audible buttons that say a word when pressed.  

In the past, the common practice of speech pathologists was to simplify and minimize the words presented to a nonverbal individual via their AAC device. It was believed that too many words might overwhelm the individual, however the opposite effect has been seen. Some AAC experts are starting to give their patients more and more words with which to work, and are seeing just how well the human brain can communicate and understand, despite the lack of speech. These findings make sense with what we already know when it comes to humans’ learning language; babies can understand words and language long before they are able to speak them. This circumstance is presented again later in life when we begin to tackle a second language in school. The brain is quick to understand language, but slow to create it on its own. Or in a dog’s case, it lacks the organs necessary to speak it. 

Hunger realized through her work that if Stella can recognize common (and exciting) words like walk or treat, then why couldn’t she be taught other words using AAC? Her, now over 800,000, followers can see the miraculous discovery she made, including Devine. Devine started studying Hunger’s research so that when she got Bunny in October of 2019, she could start learning how to communicate. Bunny, as of April 2021, knows 92 words and can string together not only coherent sentences, but existential ponderings. Devine has taught Bunny how to utilize nouns like outside, park, and walk, as well as complex nouns such as I, you, this, that, and many more. Devine continues to push Bunny’s learning as far as it will go, providing her new challenges and buttons week after week. In addition to understanding how to use verbs like is, went, and come, this dog knows emotions such as concerned, ouch, and love you. In other TikTok videos, Bunny has asked: Why?, Where Dad?, and even Why Do? when her new puppy sibling chaotically attacks her blanket on the couch.  

With this new method of communication, Bunny has been able to recognize her reflection as herself, and many other aspects about her existence (including her species) that before now, most animals have not been able to comprehend. This progress in the science of learning has provided many insights into the larger capabilities and capacities for learning, even across species! We have so much more to discover about learning itself.

Kelsey Alter

If people can teach dogs how to communicate, what more can you do to help your employees learn new things?  Training and learning are changing every day and Orgwide can help you maximize the advancements.  And who knows— maybe an old dog could teach YOU a new trick. 

Help the Orgwide Ninja Save Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas and all through the land, Santa is in need of a helping hand.
The Ninja has noticed – with shock and with awe – that the gifts in the sleigh have started to fall!

This year, our team created a “game” from Twas the Night Before Christmas as our annual electronic holiday card –
click to Help the Orgwide Ninja Save Christmas and bring joy to young and old.

From the entire Orgwide Family – Happy Holidays!