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Can HR take you higher?

  • Mike Rorie
- Posted: August 30, 2018
I’m seeking an employment opportunity with a company that wants to get to know me and will craft a position around my skills and passions. This company would have excellent training opportunities, upward mobility so I could grow into new positions with better pay and added benefits, and paid time off. 

Dozens of positions available. Responsibilities include strenuous work, long hours often at a moment’s notice, and no personal care shared or given. Minimal training provided if required. Average pay with as few benefits as we have to provide.
If you look at the two scenarios above, hopefully the reality at your company is a job description that lies somewhere between the hypothetical job seeker and the prospective employer. However, the disconnect shown seems like a familiar starting place for many small employers and the average person seeking a new opportunity. 

Snow and ice management is hard work compounded by the elements of seasonality and weather dependency. This often trickles down into the business as a whole, causing unpredictability for employers and employees on how things will turn out for the year, and even what they may be required to do each day.

Additionally, most of us would agree that my hypothetical help wanted example rings true in many ways for what potential employees can expect when they come to work at a contracting business. It’s demanding work and benefits are often limited. 

With the U.S. economy cranked up (around 4% unemployment in the United States at press time) what does this mean for small business operators seeking and competing for the available workforce and managerial staff to get a piece of all this prosperity?

Is your business attractive?
From my experience, winning the work is dependent upon your ability to attract and retain a quality workforce and the best management candidates. You can’t attract and retain the workforce without doing the same with your managerial team. Contractors ask me what it takes to achieve this. My answer is a good vision and plan that appeals to you, your team and the bank!

Hopefully you have a vision of what success looks like for your organization, and it has large appeal to prospects interested in the snow and ice management industry. I ask owners and senior level managers why someone would want to work for them and their brand. 

Does your company have a market segment identified that potential customers and employees can identify with? If the buyer and the marketplace of potential staff don’t know who or what your brand represents, the ability to attract either party gets much tougher.

Home in on HR 
For those who are more established with a market segment position intact, the need to have a full-time professional HR manager is often overlooked by small to midsize companies. Most of us know this, and it’s likely all getting done by someone, poorly or otherwise.

Chances are if you go to your management and administrative staff and gather up what everyone does associated with staff management (HR related), a job - if not more than one - will surface. The list is usually very long, and the demand is nothing short of relentless: hiring, recruiting, training, reviews, development, compensation and benefits to name a few.

So, acquiring or promoting a qualified individual to focus on HR alone would be a smart and competitive advantage to attracting and retaining the best talent. This manager can make certain you have your best foot forward at all times when trying to gain new and keep your existing talent.

If you have the best talent, it’s much easier for you to attract and retain the best buyer for your services. 

Optimize your team
Another benefit to having this position is the strain it takes off your team members who are managing pieces of this big pie. When your key people are freed up to focus on their strengths and their core responsibilities, everything will run smoother and your business will become more efficient and optimized. 

This applies to your new HR manager, too. The relentless ongoing effort it takes to recruit, hire, retain and manage a workforce would be assigned to one person who dedicates time and attention to alleviating the issues surrounding these functions. This would hopefully translate into less disruption to your business when one of these areas needs attention, which again makes you more efficient and optimized as a whole.

Think of this person in the same context as your sales manager and it will make sense and receive the priority it needs and deserves. Your people are your greatest asset. You cannot put a price on your ability to attract and retain a highly qualified, motivated workforce. By investing in an HR manager sooner rather than later, you should gain some stability in the moving target of people and gain an edge. 

Mike Rorie has been a participant in the snow and ice industry for nearly four decades. He owns GroundSystems and is CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave. Contact him at

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