Many companies are struggling to find good workers as unemployment drops to low levels in many places in the US. I have personally attended several area workforce development workshops and conferences where employers are trying to figure out how to get more qualified people to fill their growth needs. The most common solutions include “soft skills training” and other workforce education to improve the quality of the workforce. While these programs are important, I’ve been making the case that many employers are missing a bigger problem.

They aren’t creating a place where people would want to work.

This concept was recently backed by the Gallup organization in their recently released 2017 State of the American Workplace. This report looks at national data on employee engagement and trends in business. This report points out that 51% of the current workforce in the US is actively searching or is on the lookout for a new job. Furthermore, 42% of the workforce believes that this is currently a good time to find a better job. This means that every other employee in the US market is a potential new hire.

That doesn’t sound like scarcity to me, but it does sound like competition.

So how are all of these people looking for their next opportunity? 77% go to the internet and search specific company websites for information. 71% look for referrals from current employees within the organization. This is profound.

It means that 3 out of 4 people looking for a job start by asking around and looking at companies that interest them. In the Information Age, it is easier than ever to find out what it is really like working within any given company. If this type of search sounds familiar, it is. Its not unlike someone who is shopping for a new electric shaver or their next TV set online. Attracting better talent is like selling something.

Companies who are finding the talent they need (and yes, they are out there) look at the problem like a MARKETING AND SALES problem. When companies want to sell more of their product, they put out a message that aligns with their Unique Value Proposition (UVP). When companies what to “sell more” job to potential employees, they need to put out a message that aligns with what Gallup calls their Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

Companies who want to attract more people need to tell potential employees that working for their company is a great opportunity. More importantly, it truly needs to be a great opportunity. If your workplace is a terrible place to work, then you will need to make it better. If morale is low, you will need to work on it. In 2017, there is no place to hide.

This is a shift in mindset in workforce development. The current mindset of “change the worker” is analogous to a peddler trying to sell cold hot dogs by telling their customer they need to have better taste buds. The real answer is to make a great hot dog and then tell people about it. If you are having trouble finding good employees, it might be about them; it might be about you.