Monday 09 December 2019

Employers who can’t find staff need to up their pay rates

 

Photo: Imre van Eijl

Employers who can’t attract staff need to stop advertising and start paying, says economist Mathijs Bouman.

I’m sorry employers of the Netherlands but you are still not getting the message. At every congress and event in the land you tell me how important it is to conquer new markets, embrace new technologies and, especially, how essential it is to put the customer first. Customer service, that’s what it’s all about for growing companies.

But customers are not your problem when it comes to growth. In fact, customers who find someone at the other end of a phone line at your company can count themselves lucky. With so many unfilled positions you are hardly going to free up staff to answer the telephone.

According to new figures from the UWV jobs agency 46% of jobs are difficult to fill. Construction and industry in particular are having a hard time finding staff. One in 10 employers is expecting quality of work to fall because of lack of personnel.

Staff shortages are depressing growth. So it’s not really the customer who is king but the worker. Only those companies able to attract and keep staff will grow. How do companies go about making themselves attractive?

The politically correct answer would be: by tempting  (potential) workers with stories of the greater good that you want to serve with your company, and vistas of personal growth and helping to create a better world. You will give them the freedom to use their creativity and positively encourage mistakes because they are the best way of learning.

And if, after this post-modernist drivel, there is a candidate left who still wants the job you do what you should have done straight away: offer a fantastic salary. We all like to think work is more than money but in the end no one gets out of bed for less than a proper wage. Primary employment conditions is the name of the game. If you want to attract staff you have to use honey, the expensive kind and lots of it.

That is why it is so pathetic that no more than 4% of Dutch employers is willing to up wages when a position remains unfilled. Instead, they make more noise about it. Some 38% advertise more while 27% have other staff members take over tasks and almost a quarter of employers use a recruitment agency. But more noise and more advertising are not going to help when workers can pick and choose.

Better pay would. In order to balance supply and demand the price of labour needs to go up. That’s how things work in a market economy. Employers of the Netherlands: get your pocketbooks out and start dishing out more euros!

This column was published earlier in the Financieele Dagblad

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