Nobody wants to work anymore

I hear on a weekly basis nobody wants to work anymore. Millennials are lazy. People these days are afraid of work. I hired somebody and they left after a week. The list goes on and on.

Maybe it’s not the workers that’s the problem. Maybe it’s your business model. When Millennials have opportunities to do online work at $50 per hour, your minimum wage job doesn’t sound all that great anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen more than one business pay employees more than the owners trying to be fair to employees. But all that does is make the owners resentful of the employees.

There are also great employees out there that are able to do two, three, or four times the work of a new hire because they are motivated, understand the work processes and think about efficiency all the time. I know of a landscaper that went from a 3 person crew to a motivated 2 person crew and did not see any change in productivity. But do these motivated employees make double? Usually not even close.

In just about any job market, there are highly qualified people looking for work. But do you have a business environment that they are willing to come to? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and ask what can you do to make the job better.

So what can you do? Beef up your people management skills. From hiring to training programs to management, work on your skills first. Second, improve the profitability so you can hire and keep better people. It may mean walking away from low margin customers, or changing your product mix to attract a different demographic with more disposable income. Third, share in the successes. Give people a say in their future and reward them for a job well done. It is your job to create win-win situations. Look in the mirror, take responsibility and make changes that work.

It’s all about the numbers

I have been working with a maple syrup producer recently.  It is a very seasonal business with large fluctuations in production driven by the weather.  They have been selling wholesale and looking at increasing their profit margins by moving into the retail markets by developing an online store.  Everything was on track until Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball.  The crazy spring weather reduced production by 35% from last year.  There was barely enough production to cover the wholesale orders.

The retail expansion plans were shelved until next year.  At least until we started looking at the numbers a bit more.  We had been looking at equipment purchases to package for the retail market and had some solid cost numbers on the equipment and the cost of production for each stage of the operation.

The aha moment came when we asked the question “What if we bought high quality syrup on the wholesale market instead of producing it ourselves?”  When we compared our costs to wholesale prices, we found that not only could we make money by buying wholesale and packaging for retail, but we could make as much money as producing it ourselves.

By shifting our focus and looking at different ways of reaching our goals, we came up with a way to continue the growth rate.  The original focus was always produce as much as possible and sell what you make.  Shifting the focus to finding a way to sell maple syrup instead of produce as much as possible seems like a small change, but it will mean the difference between an average year and a very good year.

The question is, what small changes in your thinking can have big impacts to your business?