When the 2022 Winter Olympics concluded, I began to reflect on an interesting aspect of The Games: Recognizing the top three finishers in each competition. Whether they took gold, silver or bronze, each athlete jumped on the podium, smiling and waving to the crowd, happy to receive their medal and celebrate their tremendous accomplishment.  

Now, most of those “silver” and “bronze” athletes have resumed training to take the ultimate prize in the next competition. Indeed, we all know those athletes are closest to achieving that success. There simply are not many as-qualified athletes out there to replace them! So, a coach’s immediate strategy is grooming their silver medalists to become the gold standard in future Olympics.

The same can be said for finding talent to add to your team.

The restoration industry talent pool is at its lowest level in decades and has thinned out in mind-boggling ways for many reasons that do not need repeating here. This adjustment in circumstance means that finding a ready-made gold medalist to add to your team is not likely in the offing. Certainly not quickly.

According to Monster’s Future of Work report, 93% of businesses plan to add more people with 50% hiring for new roles and 43% hiring to replace positions. Employers anticipate that they will face challenges in terms of finding candidates having the required skills (58%), work/life balance expectations (47%), willing to work in person (44%) and with increased competition with other companies for talent (43%). 

Times have changed. The new normal is a reduced talent pool, with candidates attracted to other industries, reevaluating their work/life balance, pay, benefits and more. Hoping things will go back to pre-pandemic reality is just wishful thinking.

My Suggestion: Nurture Your Silver Medalists!

As a recruiting agency serving the restoration industry across the U.S. and Canada, we at Xactly byGTE find many people who love the industry, but who have not yet become “A” players. Many times these silver medalists (“B” players) are undervalued and passed over while an organization searches for the gold.

As a business owner and consultant, I recommend that you always remember you are in this for the long haul and should not make decisions only for the immediate, especially when it comes to hiring.

An organization may be seeking 10 qualifications in a candidate and the silver medalist may only have seven of the 10. Consider whether that candidate can be hired for job “B” with an eye on coaching and developing them to move into job “A”.

To find the silver medalists already in your organization, hold more frequent performance reviews, especially early in an employee’s tenure. Identify areas needing improvement, and where an employee is shining early, to gain insight on who in your organization is close to achieving gold and the support they need to get there.

Here are a few questions each organization must ask of themselves:

  1. How much revenue am I losing by having an open position (E.g. If an estimator would create $1.2 million in annual revenue and I do not have one for four months, have I surrendered $400,000 in sales to my competition)?
  2. Are there educational resources (through your franchisor or through an entity such as the Restoration Industry Association) available to help my silver medalist gain the knowledge needed to turn into gold?
  3. Is our organization positioned to nurture, teach and develop the “B” player, thereby turning silver into gold?

The curtain has closed on the 2022 Winter Olympics, but the preparation for the next one has already begun. There is no question that some of the people you saw with silver around their necks this year will be the same people draped in gold next time.

The Olympics began in Greece, so in closing, I quote the Greek poet Sophocles who wrote. “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.” 

It may take until the evening, but nurture your silver medalists, and watch them turn into gold.

For a deeper dive into best practices for building a strong staffing strategy, watch our Ask the Expert interview with Gregg Taylor.