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Are you ignoring a very important audience?

Here’s a guest post Drew McLellan, CEO and Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group, wrote for our WordofMouth.org project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

Employers have been in the driver’s seat for the past several years as the recession made jobs scarce and employees afraid. It’s been tough on organizations as well. No one wants to freeze open positions, have salary reductions, or cut back on benefits.

But when it came to hiring, it was a buffet of plenty for employers. Even the lowest paying jobs were attracting hundreds of applicants. Many were overqualified for the jobs they sought and willing to make concessions on salary and benefit requirements.

To be considered an employer of choice was as simple as not having a lay off or not cutting salaries. But those days are coming to an end.

We’re approaching a reversal that every business leader needs to prepare for. Believe it or not, we’re about to bang our heads on a huge employee shortage by the end of this decade — especially the skilled worker pool.

Why is this a marketing issue?

  • Your happy employees are one of your best sources of word of mouth advertising.
  • Your employees keep your customers coming back (or not).
  • Being short-staffed will impact your ability to serve your customers and keep your promises.
  • If you have to pay a premium to get employees, that cost will get passed on to your customer, making it harder to stay competitive.
  • One of the best ways to increase productivity and profitability is to have a stable workforce. The longer they stay, the better they are.
  • Employees talk. If your current employees are happy, they will attract new employees of a higher caliber.

So what do we need to do now to earn our employees’ respect, appreciation, and loyalty so that by 2020, we really are an employer of choice?

1. Give them the inside scoop.

Employees are often the last to know. They don’t see the new ad campaign until it appears in the paper. They didn’t even know you had a Facebook fan page or that a new product was about to be introduced.

More important than that – they don’t know the company’s vision or how they can contribute. Share this with them and share it often. Recognize employees who are helping move you towards that vision publicly and make it a part of everyone’s review.

2. Trust them/Treat them like grown ups.

If you don’t trust them with your customers or with your company secrets – fire them. Stop blocking websites like they’re 12-year olds you have to monitor. Believe me, if they want to waste time – there are plenty of options besides Facebook and Twitter.

No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who treats them like a child. Give them grown up responsibilities and privileges. If they prove they’re not worthy – then let them go. Stop punishing 95% for the 5% who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

3. Give them a piece of the pie.

Raises just because they’ve worked for you for another year are a thing of the past. If they’re doing the same caliber of work, the same job at the same level – why would you pay them more? Reward employees who add new skills, new ideas, or new customers.

Better yet – share your financial goals with every single employee and make it worth their while to help you get there. Tie financial rewards to your company goals to get everyone pulling in the same direction.

This isn’t new stuff.

But it’s stuff that many employers are afraid to try or haven’t been forced to try because it’s been easy to get and keep staff. Those times are changing, and we’d better change right along with them if we rely on employees to help us serve our customers.

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