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September 1, 2021 | by M. Robert Weidner, III

Building and Retaining a Talent Pool

“If you can’t talk freely with the most junior members of your organization, then you’ve lost touch …” – Gen. Jim Mattis

While traveling home from summer vacation, a friend pulled off the interstate for a quick meal. The first fast food joint’s dining room was closed due to lack of staff. The second venue was open, but lines were remarkably long.

We know it’s not just the service industry that’s having trouble finding workers. Every CEO I’ve talked to in recent months has multiple jobs open.

With more jobs open than ever, people are leaving their current workplaces “in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness,” NPR said. It’s happening in Canada, too. A Financial Post column estimated “more than half of Canadian workers have one foot out the door.” Turnover obviously imposes significant costs on businesses, but so does a disengaged workforce. Gallup estimated lost productivity from a disengaged worker equals 18 percent of that employee’s annual salary. For a company with 10,000 employees earning $50,000 each, disengagement costs $60.3 million a year.

The industrial metals sector offers quality, well-paying jobs. We would provide a good home for people looking to earn more money and learn new skills.

To attract new people, however, we must be open to investing more in recruitment, training, development, and advancement.

The people who are leaving current jobs are looking for meaningful opportunities.

A good way to show your commitment to your employees is to ensure your HR manager has a seat in the C-Suite. As advisers at Korn Ferry say, COVID-19 has “forced organizations to realize HR people are more strategic professionals than just job interviewers.”

An HR director will help develop tools to retain talent.

And if workers are coming to you with lists of wants and concerns, take it as a positive sign.

As former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Colin Powell said, “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care.”

The people that work in our industry are our greatest strength. We cannot look at them only in terms of labor costs. So …

Open the door to employees who are knocking.

Smart companies are doing what General Mattis advised: they are listening, and staying in touch with their workers.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that business leaders must be more empathetic.

Two years ago, few of us were thinking about how childcare — or the lack of safe, in-person schooling — could impact employee morale and productivity. Then COVID hit. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) Foundation survey, by the sixth month of the pandemic almost one-fifth of workers had left a job or declined advancement because of concerns about childcare.

Childcare now is a core consideration for employers.

The USCC, which MSCI is a proud member of, is exploring how public-private partnerships can offer solutions for parents.

In addition to flexibility, good wages, and opportunities for advancement, we know employees want to work in, and for companies that are inclusive. According to Harvard Business Review, 86 percent of employees say a diverse workforce will become even more important as roles, skills, and company requirements evolve.

MSCI’s mission is “to build a community of industrial metals companies and related organizations that support the membership.” Attracting a diverse workforce is an important part of fulfilling that objective.

MSCI supports member companies in their efforts to create workplaces in which all individuals are respected and valued.

To help member companies just starting their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) journeys, this summer we hosted series of members-only webinars where industry leaders discussed their efforts to build a more welcoming culture.

Workers also are demanding employers be more environmentally conscious. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 84 percent of Americans say they are more likely to work for a company that stands up for the environment. The good news is CEOs are aligned. More than nine in 10 business leaders believe their company has a responsibility to act on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

We’re excited that MSCI members are being recognized for their commitment to building a more sustainable industrial metals sector. The Motley Fool recently examined how CEO Leon Topalian is making ESG a priority at Nucor. Members like Commercial Metals Company are putting sustainability scorecards into practice.

MSCI is committed to convening its members and other experts to provide best practices and thought leadership on these matters.

Whether it is childcare, DEI, or ESG we will help you address the concerns your workers have.

President “Silent” Cal Coolidge said, “No man has ever listened himself out of a job.” The C-suite can either throw up its hands at workers’ restlessness or we can use these rumblings as a challenge to build stronger companies and a stronger economy.

We’re listening.