I didn’t grow up in a lumber or building products family. I didn’t get sawdust in my blood at an early age (although, I did once win a grand rosette in 4-H woodworking).
I fell in love with recruiting first; then I fell in love with the people in the building products industry. They really are the salt of the earth. I think few things showcase this better than the fact that the people in power in this industry are the ones who are saying the loudest that we need to actively seek out people who don’t fit the current LBM mold, which I heard described as “pale, stale, and male” at a recent national LBM conference.
Breaking away from the norm within your organization is not only crucial to easing the labor crunch, but can pay dividends in the form of fresh perspectives, new ideas, and diversified skills. Here are a few ideas to help you start to think about hiring outside of the pale, stale, and male box.
Women. If the LBM industry has a blind spot, this is it. Even as the powers of the industry are saying “we need diversity,” many are still relying on the male pronoun and terms like salesmen and “office ladies.”
Here’s the reality: Regardless of gender, some people don’t want to drive a truck, work outside in the cold, or lift heavy objects all day. But some people do. You need to quit making assumptions for nearly half the working population when your hiring decisions should be made on an individual basis.
New Americans. Recent immigrants face a host of challenges when they try to enter the workforce; they may not have the strongest language skills, their cultural norms may be different, and they may have been a high-level professional in their home country but are struggling to adapt to the employment prospects in “the land of opportunity.” They may have lost loved ones to war and barely escaped with their own lives.
Yes, there are challenges to face, but smart companies will work with local nonprofits serving new Americans to develop the basic training they need and to become the employer of choice for new Americans. There are few things more American than welcoming people who are seeking to make a better life for themselves and their families, and giving them the path to the American Dream. As an added bonus, you’re likely to create a long-term applicant funnel, you’ll earn the loyalty of the established immigrant community, and possibly receive quite a bit of positive PR for your brand. If you need a recent reminder, think of 84 Lumber’s Super Bowl commercial.
Native Americans. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Division of Indian and Native American Programs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act work together to create economic self-sufficiency through employment and job training for Native Americans. You can learn more about how your business can benefit from these programs at www.doleta.gov/dinap.
Virtual or Remote Team Members. One of the most exciting changes technology has brought to small businesses is the ability to work with freelancers and to allow staff to work remotely. Not every role can be filled by someone 1,000 miles away, particularly in our industry, but when you think about it, you might be surprised to realize how many of your business needs can be met by virtual team members or independent contractors or vendors. For example, a cabinet company I work with increased its sales by 60% in one year by partnering with an estimating firm to eliminate the bottleneck in their sales process.
If you’re looking to increase your applicant flow or reduce your payroll expenses while still getting your business needs met, consider these opportunities. You may find that breaking the mold can repair gaps, improve operations, and, ultimately, boost your bottom line.