The job market nationwide is saturated. In the Clark County area alone, there is a 4.8% unemployment rate, one of the lowest in recent history. We have a severe lack of qualified applicants for job listings in and around our city.
With this the case, why is it that the biggest complaint I hear from job applicants is the lack of viable job options within our communities? Our job seekers often complain about lack of jobs while our recruiters often complain about lack of quality applicants. Common sense would say, the many job seekers should be filling the jobs recruiters claim to have. That simply isn’t the case.
The focus on company culture
The not-so-new trend of focusing on company culture has us forgetting about the true needs of our employees and how to build community rather than company. Company culture so often is thought of as fun company perks – gym memberships, food and drinks, office beer taps, ping pong tables, company outings or events — but what is really missing is something even more rudimentary. To truly build a sense of community and strong company culture with your employees, you must first connect with them as humans. Supporting their very basic needs (as portrayed on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is the first step to fixing this need. Without support in feeling secure, an employee has very little motivation to move forward in becoming part of a team.
This building of company culture starts before a new employee ever hits apply. When a viable potential candidate begins their employment search, they are looking to fulfill one or several of their own basic needs. These needs range from the bottom (putting food on the table or maintaining housing) to the more advanced (seeking self-fulfillment) and oftentimes are a random selection of a variety of categories based on their own current personal goals.
What does this have to do with job vacancies and seemly disinterested applicants? The simple answer is, if you’re not filling their most basic needs, they don’t see the value in applying.
With a cost of living index sitting at 131 (national average being 100) and with available low-income critically low, our community simply isn’t supporting those who are seeking employment within it. A recent study found that in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the state of Washington, the average minimum wage employee must work 73 hours a week.
You get what you pay for
By offering positions that have a far lower than livable wage (regardless of minimum wage) you are leaving your company open to a multitude of issues in securing quality candidates.
The reason for lack of qualified applicants typically boils down to one thing – quality.
Many job seekers are currently employed and seeking the support to move in to stronger financial security. Quality applicants are looking for better opportunities, they seek to leave behind the status quo. Employees only become invested in your company when their first and most basic needs are met.
Potential employees can surmise that you are not invested in your current employees and cannot support their most basic of needs simply by looking at your posted pay rates. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can maneuver around this assumption by simply stating DOE in the pay scale of job listings. In a time where everything you want to know is at our fingertips, a simple search will reveal reported wages within your company. If you support your current employees, pay them fairly and offer a reasonable quality of life you will attract quality job applicants.
The bottom line is if you’re not paying a living wage – in an area where no one can afford an apartment and unemployment is at an all-time low – than perhaps it’s time to reconsider your pay structure.