The U.S. jobless rate remaining at 9.7 percent is an abstract number. It’s a big-picture number that tells auto dealers that the long-awaited sales recovery isn’t starting tomorrow.
It’s a textbook Catch-22. Until hiring starts, the economy stalls. And until the economy stirs, nobody’s hiring.
It’s frustrating. It happens before the start of every recovery. We scan and search for the slightest hints of an upturn, knowing no recession is over until the hiring starts. We pace. We fret. Why, we almost scream, doesn’t anybody hire some workers?
Well, we may wait longer this economic cycle.
Because this time, it’s personal.
I don’t mean the world has a personal grudge and is out to get us (well, maybe sometimes late at night). Rather, I mean the trauma of the past 18 months has been so great, we’re all a bit unnerved.
Maybe we sweated out multiple rounds of layoffs, each morning calculating our odds of having a job that evening. Maybe as managers or owners we had to look employees, colleagues, good workers in the eyes and tell them their jobs were gone.
This was no ordinary recession. No company survived by cutting a few unproductive workers. We didn’t cut fat, but muscle and bone. Managers weighed each cut against survival. Able workers knew their skills and productivity didn’t guarantee a job.
Everybody’s health suffered.
Literally, according to new research. Not merely those fired. Bosses who terminate employees have higher rates of depression, illness and mortality than those who don’t.
Either side of the equation sucked.
Now it’s time to hire. Or very close. Only the recovery isn’t a sure thing.
Nobody wants to hire if there’s the slightest risk the jobs won’t stick.
Employees really, really want the company to be profitable. Geez, boss, don’t add payroll ’til you’re sure.
Owners and managers feel a gnawing in the gut that goes beyond calculating risk. I can’t fire anybody else. Not again.
Either way, this is as personal as it gets.
So back to our original question: Why doesn’t anybody hire some workers?
Cuz all those anybodies are scared, just as we all are.
Oh, those textbook numbers assure us the recovery eventually will come. It just takes a few leaders to make that leap of faith, then others will follow.
So let’s talk.
If you just landed a job, if you just hired somebody, if you’re actively looking to add employees, drop me a line.
Tell me what triggered your decision. Why now? What thought or action broke through your indecision? Did you do something to reduce your risk?
I’ll pass it along. Maybe your experience can help others decide.