Searching for talented employees involves a change in thinking

It’s on a loop. The conversation I have over and over again with nearly every business leader I meet goes something like:

“How’s it going?”

“Business is going well but we’re having a rough time finding good people to hire.”

Our Lady of the Wayside has grown exponentially over the past five years, increasing our staff from 400 to more than 700. We’re advancing our mission and currently serve more than 700 children and adults with developmental disabilities.

There are, however, thousands more on the waiting list. We’re poised to continue the agency’s growth to and meet their needs. But finding employees has been more than a challenge — it’s been a game-changer.

And what’s better than a game-changer? Finding and retaining good people has compelled us to change our thinking, our assumptions and our attitude — all for the better:

■  Thinking: We needed more information so we brought in Convero (formerly Smart Business Interactive) to survey our staff. Then we listened carefully to the answers. The net? We’re learning what we’ve been doing well: valuing staff’s good work, giving folks the tools needed to be at their best on the-job with solid policies and procedures and continuing to offer employees top-notch health insurance as well as other important benefits.

Additionally, we’re putting serious sweat equity into bringing about positive change: improving communication between managers and employees, providing more hands-on help for new hires in their first 45 days and celebrating staff’s accomplishments in more meaningful ways.

■  Assumptions: Today, employees have requirements of their own that need to be fully considered in the job search process. In addition to a solid wage, they’re looking for flexibility and convenience suitable to their individual lifestyles.

To keep in step, we’re out in the community talking to potential new hires instead of waiting for them to knock on our door, and we’ve made ourselves available for drop-in interviews.

More importantly, we’ve also reviewed our three shifts and 70-plus locations and discovered that flexible schedules and varying work locations gives staff members something they really value: a chance for a better work/life balance.

■  Attitude: Viewing this challenge through the lens of opportunity has been exactly the way to go. Presenting Wayside’s good work in new ways to prospective employees, creating agile work scenarios that demonstrate understanding and investing time and training into the talent that comes with promising employees provides us the ability to distinguish our organization and keep us at the top of our game.

Our Lady of the Wayside values good people, and we need more of them — it’s on a loop — because continuing to do everything in our power to support the children and adults this agency is privileged to serve is all in a day’s work.

Terry Davis is president and CEO at Our Lady of the Wayside.