Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Republic at Risk

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville

The French diplomat, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote a lot about America and the Republic for which it stands. He had some pretty good observations. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see what those on the inside cannot see. Tocqueville’s America was the early-mid 19th century America. He saw it, warts and all. He saw a land of great promise, but with its problems. All in all a grand experiment, the outcome of which Tocqueville reckoned would depend upon the people having a strong moral foundation and sharing common principles and values. Even still, the shadow of slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, the American obsession with money and the ultimate consequences of equality were just a few of the issues Tocqueville pointed out. He admired the idea of America, but recognized that there was no guarantee of success.

So here we are in 2018 with a government that doesn’t work. An economy that sort of works, at least for now for some of us, in spite of the government. A people divided, with fundamental differences about right and wrong, how lives should be lived and the role of government in those lives. And professional politicians who take our money and use it against us. I fear Tocqueville may have been right about Congress bribing the public with the public’s money.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Something’s Gotta Give

In June 2009 there were 6.6 unemployed people for every job opening. In October 2017 there were only 1.1 unemployed people for every job opening. This number is lower than pre-Great Recession levels which got down to 1.4 in the Spring of 2007.

If you are an employer trying to hire people to work in transportation/logistics related jobs, you have a problem. A huge problem. It’s not just truck drivers, maintenance technicians and warehouse workers. High Road Partners specializes in recruiting management and executive talent for the industry. I can assure that candidate availability has never been worse. If you are looking for experienced management or executive talent with a specific industry segment background, good luck. The days of interviewing a half-dozen candidates and then narrowing it down to two or three finalists before making a decision (and, oh by the way, taking a couple of months to get through “the process”) are over. You may still go through “the process”, but it won’t be with highly-qualified candidates who meet your job specs.

And it’s not likely to get much better. Even if the economy cools off a bit. There aren’t a lot of new people entering the workforce with the goal of working in transportation/logistics. Certainly not if it involves actually managing people, especially if those people are truck drivers, dock workers or maintenance techs. That’s the hardest part of this business, so no thanks.

So what can an employer expect and how should they respond to this candidate shortage? It really comes down to keeping the employees you want to keep and hiring the new people you want to hire. There are some things you can do, including nothing, but I wouldn’t recommend that approach. Realistically you only have three options: pay more, expect less or make your company a better place to work. Most likely it’s a combination of all three. If you choose to hold the line on compensation AND expect to hire and retain top caliber employees AND treat them the same way you’ve been treating them for the past 25 years you are just in denial. It won’t work. Something’s got to give and it won’t be top quality employees whose skills and experience are in demand.