Develop a comprehensive onboarding process that is explained in the interview and executed once hired. Candidates need to envision what it is like to work in the organization and what is provided to them in order to succeed.

Offer a compensation package that is competitive in the geographic area for new hires and reviewed for current employees. Long-tenured employees are often at a disadvantage in compensation as it rarely evolves with the ever-changing economy.

Incentivize employees with an exciting recognition program. Reward them with products or experiences that are desirable and memorable.

Foster a strong social media presence that features employees and activities. Everyone has access to information and actively seeks it out. Shine a spotlight on your employees and showcase to potential employees what the organization is about.

Listen and be nimble. The needs of the employees are always changing, so review your current offerings and identify where there is room for improvement.

The pandemic has allowed people to reevaluate what they want from work. This “Great Reevaluation” has led to the “Great Resignation” which has left the US with a great big labor shortage and a supply chain crisis. What can we do to reverse this trend? What can be done to attract great talent to companies looking to hire? What must companies do to retain their great talent? If not just a paycheck, what else are employees looking for? In this interview series called “The Labor Shortage & The 5 Things We Must Do To Attract & Retain Great Talent” we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and ideas from their experience that can address these questions.

As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Gordon.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Paul Gordon is Senior Vice President of Sales for Rymax, the premium and incentive industry’s leader in loyalty marketing. The company is also the leader in employee recognition programs created to develop employee achievement of company goals, peer-to-peer recognition, and training. Overseeing the growth of the sales divisions’ accounts since 2008, Paul fosters new client relationships, drives organic growth for existing clients, and aligns Rymax’s national brand partners with exclusive incentive programs. During his tenure, he created the highly successful R-SITE program (Rymax Strategic Interactive Themed Events), deploying it in various verticals ranging from telecommunications and automotive to finance and pharmaceutical.

An industry expert, Paul has appeared on Bloomberg Television and FOX Business and has been featured in USA Today. Previously, he was named one of the “25 People to Watch” by Global Gaming Business magazine, which focuses solely on the casino industry, as well as one of the “25 Most Influential People” by Incentive Magazine. A sought-after thought leader, he is a regular speaker at trade shows, conventions, roundtables, and universities across the country.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

The evolution of my current self is continually influenced by many experiences, all of which contribute to my ongoing personal development. Early in my career, I realized that in order to excel in your job, you need to understand all of the elements that impact it. As a result, I’ve always tried to immerse myself in the total process and, most importantly, learn from it. In my first sales position in the photography industry, I sold to retailers. The primary decision-maker was the buyer in corporate, but the success of my product line resided with the retail sales associates on the floor who interacted with the customers. The sales associates had the power to influence the purchase by brand, features, and price point. While many of my competitors walked right past the floor staff and straight to the buyers, I took the time to get to know them and always acknowledged them. This effort fostered a relationship that transcended the brand and the product features, generating greater success. Undoubtedly, employees at every level want to be recognized and appreciated, and that has helped shape my success throughout my career, ultimately leading me to help other organizations create rewards and recognition programs that positively impact their organizations.

Let’s jump right in. Some experts have warned of the “Great Resignation” as early as the 1980s and yet so many companies seem to have been completely unprepared when it finally happened. What do you think caused this disconnect? Why do you think the business world was caught by surprise?

The term “Great Resignation” and its ubiquity really started in 2021, amid the global pandemic. The 1980s — and the next 20 years — actually saw tremendous growth in jobs as technology moved at a breakneck speed and personal wealth skyrocketed. In considering the disconnect, I would pinpoint the financial collapse of 2008 and its impact on most employees and companies, especially the evolution of personal priorities over the next 12 years. Once the pandemic hit, companies saw an unprecedented paradigm shift as it relentlessly influenced every phase of our lives on both a personal and corporate level. The disruption was so all-encompassing that employers had to create a “new normal” that was previously inconceivable. Certain business segments, such as retail and service professionals, saw the highest volume of attrition from the “Great Resignation” because they felt under-appreciated and, therefore, sought other means of income. The business world was caught off-guard since employees desired a new work-life balance they never thought possible. The backbone of any business is its employees, especially in the way they express their appreciation and engagement regarding corporate culture and talent retention. Many companies lost sight of this priority, before, during, and after the pandemic, during which employees felt disenfranchised and incentivized to leave. Now, if we can believe the current labor statistics, it appears that the quit rate is now where it was in 2019, before the pandemic. It has become harder to fill positions and, with the unemployment rate at a 50-year low, employees and employers recognize the importance of their position and the value of the job.

What do you think employers have to do to adapt to this new reality?

Undeniably, employers must accept that requiring five days a week in the office is obsolete for most industries. Instead, a hybrid work environment is sought by employees and, with the latest technology, can actually create greater efficiencies. Employers need to train their workforce to become more productive, create a collaborative culture remotely, and clearly define the company’s goals and objectives. That said, not everyone has the discipline to work in a hybrid environment, so training and communication are paramount. Employee recognition is critical since everyone likes to be recognized and appreciated for their work and a job well done. The old way of thinking was that the employee should appreciate the fact that they even have a job, which has become an unacceptable viewpoint. The organization needs to appreciate the employees so that they create a healthy culture and deliver the goals determined by the company. Company and peer-to-peer recognition will yield the most favorable results.

Based on your opinion and experience, what do you think were the main pain points that caused the great resignation? Why is so much of the workforce unhappy?

Once people experienced the unique opportunity of working from home, probably for the first time in their career, they also reassessed their life’s goals and priorities. Irrefutably, people began to see their jobs, as well as their lives, differently. The greatest “pain point” is the work-life balance and whether their current job provides that lifestyle. Is the commute too taxing? Are the upward mobility opportunities real? What income do I need to enjoy the things that are important to me? These are just some of the facets that could contribute to a disgruntled workforce. Additionally, companies must understand there are also generational factors, especially as Boomers are exiting and Gen Z, Gen X, and Millennials comprise approximately 85% of the workforce. This new workforce’s needs are different, as are their social activities and forms of communication. In order to increase participation, companies need to use training through gamification, along with communication that is frequent, clear, and engaging. They also need to host company “events” to interact with their counterparts. A healthy organization creates an environment that understands and shares the mission, vision, and values of its employees, so everyone is aligned.

Many employers extoll the advantages of the entrepreneurial spirit and the possibilities of an expanded “gig economy”. But this does come with the cost of a lack of loyalty of gig workers. Is there a way to balance this? Can an employer look for single-use sources of services and expect long-term loyalty? Is there a way to hire a freelancer and expect dependability and loyalty? Can you please explain what you mean?

Companies can absolutely benefit from a gig economy since the cost of onboarding a new employee is approximately $4,500, and yet, the transient nature of the workforce still sees a turnover of nearly 20 percent. As a result, filling roles with outside resources such as agencies or tech companies can be a great benefit to the organization. Dependability and loyalty for a freelancer or part-time hire is no different than what an organization seeks from a full-time employee, which requires inclusiveness, recognition, and communication. This intentional approach will deliver the results you want from the gig worker, while also possibly leading to a permanent position. If that happens, you now have a greater financial return for onboarding the employee based on their successful track record.

It has been said that “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses”. How do you think this has been true during the Great Resignation? Can you explain what you mean?

It is absolutely true. It’s unfortunate there is rarely sufficient training to be an effective boss, likely because the leadership qualifications are often based on the understanding of the job, but not on managerial expertise. Qualities of a great leader include trust, respect, inclusiveness, delegation, and recognition. Some bosses unfairly view remote positions with suspicion, so they have created a hostile work environment. Some bosses micro-managed to the extent that their direct reports no longer felt that they had “ownership” of their work or provided meaningful value. And, some did not share the credit of accomplishments, which led to disenfranchised workers. Leadership training and employee recognition programs that are part of the company’s core employee evaluation can turn ineffective and under-trained bosses into great leaders.

I am fond of saying, “If it’s fun they charge admission. But you get a paycheck for working here.” Obviously, I am being facetious, but not entirely. Every job has its frustrations and there will be times when every job will aggravate employees. How important is it that employees enjoy their jobs?

Studies have previously revealed that happy employees are 20 percent more productive than unhappy ones, 65 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, and 20 percent are passionate about them. When we work with our clients, those numbers are pretty consistent and there will always be 10 to 15 percent of the employee base that is unhappy and unmotivated. Therefore, companies need to focus on the top and middle-tier employees to create a more enjoyable work environment. When employees genuinely enjoy their jobs, they become brand ambassadors that help recruit more good employees and create new revenue opportunities by being engaged in the business. Previously, we discussed the “Great Resignation” and so we also need to address “quiet quitting,” which is also a big problem. When an employee is putting in the minimum effort, it impacts their performance and can also adversely impact those who interact with them. Their lack of enthusiasm and participation can be contagious, quickly spreading to their colleagues, which poses a danger to the company. Providing recognition and inclusive programs can turn the “quiet quitting” employees into productive members of the organization.

How do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability and c) employee health and wellbeing?

Mark Twain said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It is a profound, yet simplistic observation. We spend a disproportionate amount of time working during our lifetime, so it’s essential to enjoy our job. Once discontent develops among employees, productivity, profitability, and employee health and well-being suffer. We’ve all seen this among coworkers, and we also know that some people are always unsatisfied, while most people can be on a corrective course with the effort of management. When job descriptions and company goals are clearly outlined, employees are more engaged. When employees are recognized for achieving those goals, the company can thrive. In the past, annual job reviews were part of the culture. Rarely did it create a better work environment when the employee was getting feedback infrequently. Companies that have quarterly goals and recognition programs for each quarter will see maximum success.

What are a few things that employers, managers, and executives can do to ensure that workers enjoy their jobs?

The first step is understanding the rapid change in how they do business and communicating employee expectations. All companies need to reevaluate their expectations for the company, as well as its employees. Today’s most successful organizations create the flexibility that the employees demand and a business process that makes sense of it. Recently, the Harvard Business Review reported that 41 percent of women worked from home versus 28 percent of men. They also reported that 60 percent of the workforce cannot work from home, but also want flexibility in their schedule. So, understanding this employee’s desire is critical. In addition, companies need to recognize their staff with a comprehensive employee recognition program. At Rymax, we offer branded products in recognition programs, which are incredibly effective because they reward the employee with something special and provide trophy value that extends that feeling of achievement and recognition for years to come. Workers enjoy their jobs when employers make their objectives known, share the results and updates, and communicate frequently. We are a tribal society, both politically and socially, so help ensure you are creating a society within the organization that instills pride and inclusivity.

Can you share a few things that employers, managers, and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture?

Executives need to listen to their employees, which I know sounds pretty basic but how many companies really do that? And, when I say employees, I mean all employees, across the board, starting with entry-level positions. Executives should also listen to their clients, too. What are they doing within their organization? What challenges are they faced with and what solutions have they implemented? The hubris of the organization is often the Achilles heel that adversely impacts the business. The one thing we have clearly learned over the past few years is that we all have much to learn and those who take the time to listen to feedback will not only survive but really thrive.

Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things employers should do to attract and retain top talent during the labor shortage?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Develop a comprehensive onboarding process that is explained in the interview and executed once hired. Candidates need to envision what it is like to work in the organization and what is provided to them in order to succeed.
  2. Offer a compensation package that is competitive in the geographic area for new hires and reviewed for current employees. Long-tenured employees are often at a disadvantage in compensation as it rarely evolves with the ever-changing economy.
  3. Incentivize employees with an exciting recognition program. Reward them with products or experiences that are desirable and memorable.
  4. Foster a strong social media presence that features employees and activities. Everyone has access to information and actively seeks it out. Shine a spotlight on your employees and showcase to potential employees what the organization is about.
  5. Listen and be nimble. The needs of the employees are always changing, so review your current offerings and identify where there is room for improvement.

Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?

The best ways to follow me and my company are on LinkedIn and through Rymax’s Blog.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

About The Interviewer: Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 3,700 works in print. He has contributed to Authority, Buzzfeed, Entrepreneur, Monster, Thrive Global, and many more magazines and is published on all inhabited continents. He is the author of four books and a contributor to one more. His latest book Stop. Don’t Shoot! Preparing For and Surviving Mass Shootings and Rampage Attacks. deals with identifying and preventing Mass Shootings. La Duke believes this subject is so important that he sent copies to the POTUS, the VPOTUS, and every US Senator who was seated as of January 7, 2023.

His first book is a visceral, no-holds-barred look at worker safety, I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety. His second book Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention which deals with workplace violence, particularly directed at women, is listed as #16 on Pretty Progressive magazine’s list of 49 books that powerful women study in detail. His third book, Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands is a step-by-step guide to getting worker safety right, and Loving An Addict: Collateral Damage Of the Opioid Epidemic is due to be released in 2023. La Duke also contributed a chapter to 1% Safer, a not-for-profit book, written by the “top game-changers and global thought leaders.”

Expertfile lists Phil La Duke as a top 25 thought leader in multiple areas. In addition to his writing, Phil sits on eight Biomedical Research Oversight Boards and is a highly sought-after speaker. La Duke is currently employed as a COVID Compliance and Production Safety Consultant for the film and television industry.

Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Phil-La-Duke-320996002174991/,

His author’s page on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07G799XC6, or read his weekly blog www.philladuke.wordpress.com where he updates with the regularity of a turtle with too much rice in its diet.

This article originally appeared: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/paul-gordon-of-rymax-on-the-labor-shortage-the-5-things-we-must-do-to-attract-retain-great-dec5583bf1ee?sk=4adf08306b8240570cd37339b774da62

  • News Coverage