When I first joined the forest products industry in the late 1980s, it took 20-25 years to attain a top job operating complex machinery. Now, we see employees moving into these same jobs in as little as three to five years. This shift in the labor force has a profound effect on hiring.
Focus On the Intermediate & Higher-Level Jobs
An organization is only as strong as the workforce that sustains it, so hiring decisions at all levels are critically important. Hiring managers and HR professionals always want to choose a candidate who is a good fit for the organization and possesses the ability to perform the required tasks. They want to invest in people with the abilities and motivations to make a lasting impact. Therefore, we advise our clients to never hire someone for an entry level operative job! Although hiring managers and HR place people in entry level jobs, they also set the bar, at selection, for intermediate and advanced level jobs. New hires in today’s organizations will be promoted more rapidly than has been customary.
Legal Considerations When Selecting Entry Level Operatives
Is it legal to set the bar for intermediate level jobs when selecting for entry level roles? Yes, higher level job selection is legal. According to the U.S. Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, Section 5: General Standards for Validity Studies-I, Use Of Selection Procedures For Higher Level Jobs states the following:
"If job progression structures are so established that employees will probably, within a reasonable period of time and in a majority of cases, progress to a higher level, it may be considered that the applicants are being evaluated for a job or jobs at the higher level."
A "reasonable period of time" will vary for different jobs and employment situations but will seldom be more than 5 years.
3 Employment Skills Every Manufacturer Needs
According to Manpower Group’s 2019 white paper entitled "The Future Factory," almost half of the roles in manufacturing (49%) will need to change within three to five years as the industry transitions to becoming fully digital. In manufacturing, employers who thrive are those whose workforce is agile, can learn, and are motivated to succeed. To attain this high-quality workforce, manufacturers must master three employment skills:
1. Recruitment - attract a large, diverse pool of candidates. See: “Recruitment Casting a-Wide Net to Fill the Applicant Pool”
2. Selection - match candidates to current and future job requirements. We always tell our clients that performance is a function of ability and motivation/adaptation. Therefore, those doing hiring must rigorously assess:
- Ability via carefully selected cognitive ability tests
- Motivation/adaptation via structured board interviews
See: "Why Settle for Subpar Performers Instead Follow the Lead of Pro Sports Smart Data"
3. Retention - to retain these highly motivated and highly able employees, employers must master the on-boarding process. This includes:
- Planning for the new hire’s arrival by preparing their workspace, securing needed protective equipment, and obtaining important tools such as PC’s or email access etc.
- Preparing and delivering structured orientation training
- Providing clear performance expectations
- Establishing a network of mentors or colleagues as support resources
- Delivering ongoing feedback, coaching, and positive reinforcement
- Providing opportunities for growth and development
Implications of the ‘Silver Tsunami’
Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are retiring or getting ready to retire, a phenomenon referred to as the “Silver Tsunami.” (The illustration to the right highlights factors affecting today's work environment.)
For example, in one forest products facility where we worked, more than half of the workforce was over the age of 55. The breakdown was as follows: 17 percent were 55-59, 16 percent were 60-64, and 18 percent were 65 or older!
In an industry that typically has had very low turnover plus a seniority-based system to move to higher-level jobs, the implications of this Silver Tsunami are enormous.
Rapidly Evolving Jobs
New people coming into facilities will need to possess the ability to learn their jobs more quickly, be able to move up to higher level jobs in a much shorter time, and learn these new, more cognitively complex jobs much faster than ever before.
A Key Mindset for Hiring
Hiring managers and HR professionals are advised to select candidates not simply for entry level positions, but also for future advancement. By doing so, they select team players who have the potential to deliver results, not just in their first role but also over time.
Entry-Level Employee Selection Strengthens An Organization
Everyone remembers the excitement of landing their first “real” job. Newcomers continue to break into the labor market, looking for gainful employment. Hiring managers and HR professionals have a valuable opportunity to welcome them to the workforce and set them up for a lengthy and rewarding career. Essentially, these hiring managers are making an investment in human potential. They invest in people with the abilities and motivations to make a lasting impact on the organization. The people hired for entry level jobs today are the foundation of tomorrow’s workforce. Hire wisely!