This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 21, 2003

Employers Will Be Nice

During the late 1990s, competition for qualified employees was intense. Employers, who had not seemed to care much about people in the early part of the decade, changed their demeanor. In their campaigns to attract enough good workers to fill their positions, they offered all sorts of incentives. Small fortunes were invested-expended-to lure applicants and get them on the payroll. All sorts of wonderful benefits were lavished on workers to entice them to stay. Employers were nice and warm and loving…until the economy slowed.

Suddenly the façade evaporated. Employers became mean, cutting payroll like a knife through warm butter. The caring attitudes disappeared. People lucky enough to still be employed rankled at the way they were treated by managers who took them for granted. Even the human resource professionals, who are expected to be more sensitive, didn't seem to care about people anymore. They were administrators, executioners.

People who were unemployed were actively looking for jobs. The reactions of the employers were radically different during the slow economy. Phone calls were not returned. Resumes were ignored. E-mails went unanswered. Yes, employers were busy, but their behavior toward applicants was often downright rude. A recent survey by revealed that 73 percent of applicants never heard back from employers after submitting their resumes. Anger, irritation, and resentment grew as these wonderful workers were snubbed and insulted.

Now the tables are turning again. With the economy picking up and the labor shortage rearing its ugly head, employers are in for a nasty shock. We're moving into a sellers' market for labor again-sellers who have vivid memories of their recent mistreatment. Employers who didn't have the courtesy to be considerate and polite during the slow economy may find themselves in a very difficult position in the hot economy.

Employers who were warm and receptive, even if they didn't have openings, will find it much easier to recruit talent. They've built communities of prospective employees who appreciate the humane treatment they received from organizations who wanted them, but couldn't justify hiring yet. These people-centered employers will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

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