Heavy Metal is happy in his job — Plastics News editor Don Loepp, take note — but I always enjoy hearing presentations by recruiters at industry conferences. Head hunters, as they are called.
Dennis Gros is a frequent speaker. Earlier this year, he sold his firm Gros Executive Recruiting, to MBS Advisors of Florence, Mass., formerly known as Molding Business Services, and now is president of the recruiting division of MBS.
You might say that Dennis Gros himself got recruited.
Gros coordinates an annual salary survey for the Society of Plastics Engineers, but in Pittsburgh at the SPE Annual Blow Molders Conference in October, Gros focused on job satisfaction, not on pay. Candidates always say more money is the most important thing when they consider switching jobs. Pay is a way to keep score, after all. But really, people want to make an impact, to be heard, respected and appreciated.
"Really, trust is the basis of so many of these conversations. Trust and responsibility," he said.
"What creates a perception of job security? Well first of all, employees want to feel that their job, that their paycheck, is safe. They want to know that their job is secure. They want to know that their employer's financially sound," Gros said. "And good signs that they see, positive indications, are growth. Pay raises. Bad signs that they see would be layoffs, reduced work hours, a hiring freeze, negative publicity."
Too many bad signs, and it's time to update your resume, especially when unemployment is 3.7 percent.
What makes a good boss?
"The boss does not have to be a best friend to an employee. But they do need to have some type of a relationship," Gros said. "You want to be sure that there's an ongoing, free flow of communication. And an employee wants to know that he or she is heard."
Finding and retaining good workers is a huge challenge. Gros said the boss has this responsibility: "To design the job that's too good to leave." People need to feel charged up about going to work, when they do work they really like.
He warned against corporate cultures that are fake.
"So many companies talk about culture, what's the culture of your company? What's the culture of my company?" he said. "That can be taken a little bit too far — that is, trying to impose a culture, especially a culture that doesn't fit the organization, but it's the culture of the week. … Imposing a culture doesn't work. What works is mutual respect."
So just be real. Employees can tell when it's a come-on. Most of them are skeptical.
The SPE salary survey covered a random sample of nearly 2,000 plastics industry professionals. Gros presented some tidbits at the Annual Blow Molding Conference
About 40 percent of employees like the option of working from home. Flexible work hours are also very important — ranking in fourth place in factors for people who desire a job change (behind salary, benefits and the company's financial performance.)
Gros said the survey shows plastics employers are doing some things right. Of respondents who said, "my company is a great place to work," 72 percent they agree strongly or agree somewhat. Half said they would recommend their company to other people as a place to work.
And 71 percent said they are satisfied with their current position.
Half are not likely to seek a new job in the next 12 months. What about the other half? A third are somewhat likely to look for another job, 7 percent will very definitely seek employment elsewhere and 8 percent are actively seeking a job right now, today.
That means, when a head hunter calls, half of your employees will want to talk.
When Gros is recruiting, his job is to identify someone who would consider an offer. He asks questions and listens. Here's the type of things he wants to hear when he is looking for a likely candidate:
• "I just missed a promotion. I thought I was entitled to it."
• "The company's in transition. We've just been acquired, we've just been sold. Our company has acquired another and two divisions are merging into one. I don't know where I stand."
• "I'm frustrated."
• "I feel there are contributions that I can make that my company really doesn't appreciate in terms of my abilities and my performance capability."
That's what Gros the head hunter wants to hear. Which means you don't want to give your employees a reason to say those things — at least, your valued people.
On the other hand, Gros said nearly half of respondents said company image and prestige is an important factor when looking to change jobs. So when you're interviewing somebody, the message should be: "We're solid. We're stable, you can feel safe here. We will respect your autonomy will be respectful of you as an individual."
But it has to be sincere. It has to be the truth.