Hiring in the Midst of a Transforming Labor Force

Hiring in the Midst of a Transforming Labor Force

By Jean L. Seawright, CMC

Spring is right around the corner and garden centers across the country are gearing up for their annual hiring blitz. This year, the hiring blitz is taking place in the midst of a transforming labor force. After a period of introspection stemming from the pandemic, many people see the world differently. They recognize that life is fragile and that it doesn’t pay to work in a job that makes them miserable. They’ve thought deeply about the type of work that makes them happy and now want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. These workers are voluntarily quitting their jobs in record numbers in pursuit of work they find personally fulfilling.

Garden Centers are perfectly positioned to meet this need!  In the midst of tranquil surroundings, garden centers offer employees a job with a sense of purpose, daily interaction with nature and the outdoors, the opportunity to foster human connections, less stress than a corporate environment, and work that encourages mindfulness, creativity, and balance.  Sign me up!

Although your Garden Center may have the perfect message to attract talent for the upcoming season, with a shrinking labor force, it’s no secret that competition for workers is intense. Wages have risen beyond a level employers anticipated, employees are continuously being enticed away by Indeed and ZipRecruiter, and candidates are receiving multiple offers. No question, they hold all the cards in this market and speed is the name of the game. Employers that don’t extend job offers quickly enough will lose good candidates. This reality is forcing employers in all industries to streamline their hiring processes and, in many cases—despite the risks—to cut corners. Unfortunately, some of these employers are paying a price for speed.

Garden Centers know how to process candidates faster than employers in most other industries. After all, when you have to hire hordes of people in a very short span of time every single year, and when time is money, efficiency is all that matters, right?

Wrong!  A hiring process that results in the selection of an employee who is not coachable, refuses to perform, poisons the workplace, or, worse yet, harms a customer or coworker can cost much more than you can imagine. Sacrificing quality for efficiency is not the answer and can result in greater liabilities and substantial losses of time and money. To avoid this, you need a hiring process that is both efficient and sufficient; one that helps you attract and select fit, competent, and qualified workers who are trustworthy and do not pose a risk of harm to others.

Taking proactive steps to reduce risk is becoming more critical as legal claims for negligent hiring rise. A claim for negligent hiring can occur when an employer knew (or should have known) that an applicant was unfit, incompetent, or a risk of harm to others, and the employer failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable consequences of the individual’s unfitness. Claims for negligent hiring often arise when an employer hires an individual without an adequate background check, reference check, application form, and/or interview. Despite the pandemic, a tight labor market is no defense for a negligent hiring claim.

Don’t get caught in this trap! Utilize an efficient AND sufficient hiring process, and dedicate the time necessary to ensure that you are hiring qualified, trustworthy workers who do not pose a risk of harm. To minimize risk, your process should include the following:

  • An employment application with adequate security questions and, where permitted, a properly worded criminal conviction question that is consistent with state, local, and federal regulations. (To enhance efficiency, candidates applying online can complete a streamlined questionnaire or “expression of interest” form. Those who are selected to proceed can then [and definitely should!] complete a standard employment application later in the process.)
  • An adequate interview with targeted questions.
  • Employment reference checks. (These can be conducted by third-party vendors.)
  • Background-check reports suitable for the position. (Depending on the position, these could include but are not limited to a Social Security verification, a nationwide criminal history report, county criminal history reports, a motor vehicle record check, and a credit check.)
  • Verification of all information obtained and provided by the candidate.

Implementing an adequate hiring process requires a careful and thoughtful approach, but the time, effort, and cost are well worth it. Moral of the story: When it comes to hiring decisions, even in an intensely competitive job market, the more information you have, the better.  Remember, hire hard, manage easy . . .  and reduce risk.

New Background Check Vendor with Special Rates
for The Garden Center Group Clients

To help support your quest to “hire smart,” we have arranged for members of The Garden Center Group to receive special reduced rates for background check reports and services from a reputable, professional background check vendor, Sterling Talent Solutions (“Sterling”).*

Sterling is among only 10% of all background screening companies that are nationally accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). They offer a broad range of cloud-based background screening and onboarding solutions, including, among others, a variety of criminal background reports, social media character checks, drug testing, employment verifications, and educational verifications. Sterling has developed a recommended package for garden centers that is offered at a reduced rate.

If you are interested in learning more about Sterling and the special rates they are offering to Garden Center Group members, click HERE to link to a flyer with more details. You can also contact the sales representative for The Garden Center Group:

Blaine Kaniewski | National Sales Executive
Sterling Talent Solutions
Direct: 646-825-5094 | Cell: 414-630-3099 | Email: [email protected]

To be fully prepared for your spring hiring blitz, if you are implementing background checks for the first time or if you are changing vendors, we recommend that you initiate the set-up process as soon as possible.

Jean Seawright is president of Seawright & Associates, a management consulting firm located in Maitland, Florida. Since 1987, she has provided human resource management and compliance advice to employers across the country. Her firm has been consulting with Clients of The Garden Center Group since 1999.

*Seawright & Associates does not receive any royalties, fees, or other financial incentives from Sterling. There are many different background check vendors available and Group Clients are free to use any vendor they choose (or no vendor). We recommend that Group members carefully evaluate the options and services of Sterling Talent Solutions or any vendor and make a selection that is in their best interest. Seawright & Associates bears no responsibility for the products, services, advice, records, or information obtained from Sterling Talent Solutions or any other vendor.

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