Are you a new-hire repellant?

by Brian Sodoma

Let's shake on itWe all know the trades are experiencing an unprecedented labor shortage, and many painting professionals are desperate for good help. New hires know they have other options, and it’s frustrating for a painting business owner to train a new employee only to watch them leave for another company. If you’re running into this problem, consider these few insights to could help you make changes for the better.


No matter how large or small your painting enterprise is, training starts by effectively welcoming a new hire. Say hello daily, and let them know you are available and that you care about their progress, says Bess Cadwell, VP of construction and Arizona markets for Govig & Associates, an AZ-based executive recruiting company that works with contractors.

“You want to make sure you do this the moment they come on board,” she adds.

It’s also important for bosses to reflect on what that new employee sees day in and day out, notes Amy Hirsch Robinson, principal of Interchange Consulting Group, which works with contractors on hiring and retention issues. Those early days are an impressionable time window for employees, she says, and if you appear disorganized, preoccupied and uncaring, that new hire may form what she refers to as a ‘premature cognitive commitment,’ or negative conclusion about your business that may not even be accurate.


Millennials make up the majority of the new painting workforce, so understanding their workplace needs is also important, Hirsch Robinson says.

“Fifty percent of millennials say they are looking for a new job this year. … They are not job hoppers, they are ‘experience’ hoppers. If they are not getting that variety of experiences they are looking for, they’re looking somewhere else,” the employment expert added. “You really want to tailor your onboarding to the needs of employees based on generation.”

Millennials often come to the table seeking a community feel in the work place, in addition to clear guidance and regular feedback on their work and what next steps are coming. And they may not be patient if you’re regularly forgetting their name or if they feel like they are just doing busy work and are not an important part of the team.

“This is the product of the gamification of education they’ve experienced,” Hirsch Robinson said. “In school, they’ve heard ‘here’s your gold star, now here’s what you have to do to get the next gold star.’”

Cadwell says an effective approach with millennials may be to show interest in them early by building recruitment relationships with high school vocational programs. She recommends creating opportunities for students to work during the summer, gaining experience and earning income. It’s a worthwhile effort that allows an employer to ‘build attachment’ with that future employee—who will then already have an understanding of your company culture if he or she comes onboard full time after graduation.

To learn more about effective onboarding strategies, read the full feature article in the October/November issue of inPAINT magazine:


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