A tight labor market spurs innovation at Acloché


The tight labor market in Central Ohio is a challenge for any business, but it’s even tougher when that’s your primary role. Acloché, a staffing company, has gotten creative at finding talent for its clients.

CEO Kimberly Shoemaker says it has become a daily conversation, and while she’s been through these cycles before — where there’s more job positions than people — this one has lasted a bit longer than others over her nearly two decades at Acloché.

“Our mission is connecting people to complementary teams, but recently we’ve been baffled, as are most people, with the very tight labor market. We’re regularly considering new and innovative ways to keep ourselves connected to that workforce in Central Ohio,” she says.

Strong job candidates have become savvier about the interview process. They look at all aspects of a company and have more control. Shoemaker says this means if applicants don’t feel connected to whatever potential employer they’re looking at or if they find the process too consuming or overwhelming, they simply move on to the next opportunity.

She says it’s a continual process, and sometimes managers have to consider how skills can transition to a new industry. Does a job candidate have the right attitude and core competencies, but can be trained on the skills?

Ease and simplification are crucial. Managers shouldn’t become complacent if they feel like they have the headcount they need because that can easily change.

Stay vigilant

Acloché also doesn’t become complacent with a challenge like remaining competitive and attracting the best talent.

Shoemaker says it requires continuously evaluating recruiting methods and applicant processes. The company obtains feedback, which comes from all parties, to make sure it’s not too cumbersome. Then, it’s a matter of making regular adjustments.

“It’s not uncommon for our entire leadership to be very hands-on, day to day, and working in our operations and working with the candidates and working with the clients to figure out how we can eliminate the red tape that we’re seeing when it comes to the disconnect between job candidates and open positions that are out there,” she says.

Shoemaker also believes it’s important to look at your rate of return. You cannot assume something is working, even if that’s what everyone is saying.

“If you’re investing money into some sort of technology platform, in order to look for employees, you really need to look at the rate of return as to what value is that bringing to your organization. We do that frequently,” she says.

Again, communication is important. While the Acloché team has daily discussions about what’s working, what isn’t and the gap analysis between open job positions and people looking for work, it recently went a step further.

Shoemaker says they brought the whole management team in for an afternoon town hall meeting on recruiting strategies. What worked in Marysville might not work in Lancaster or Delaware, but some best practices can be spread across the entire organization.

Help them ‘be their own success story’

Keeping your organization nimble and flexible isn’t easy because it seems like when you get used to something, it changes up, Shoemaker says. Whether it’s technology or regulations, everything is like that. In fact, that’s all the younger generation knows.

“They’re used to this ever-changing model, and I think that sometimes they feel like it’s stagnant if it’s not changing and updating,” she says.

Today’s tight labor market makes the ability to adjust more important.

“Change management is horribly hard for a lot of people, because, again, we have this stigma about ‘this is the way we’ve always done it,’ and people are just accustomed to doing it this way, whether it’s the right away or the wrong way. That’s just what it is,” Shoemaker says.

When you’re looking for new and innovative ways to do something, you have to create trust with your team so they’ll bring you solutions.

So, after you hire people you trust, Shoemaker says it’s a matter of giving them clear direction, expectations and accountability, without stifling their creativity or making them feel like you’re not listening.

“I think you need to give people the freedom to be their own success story,” she says.

In other words, delegation. How to delegate was the hardest skill for Shoemaker to learn. She says her personality tended to be — and still kind of is — “OK, we need to get this done, let me just do it.”

However, Shoemaker says you get to a point where you realize that you aren’t helping your team be more successful. You have to focus on the outcome, and not worry about how they’re doing it. And once you learn to step back, it will make you proud to be a part of that person’s growth.

“We have such tenure within our organization of people that have started out in, let’s just say, entry-level positions and have grown to senior level management because they’ve been able to shine,” she says.