How to light up your employees' (working) lives.

Our industry's skilled craft shortage has created darkness, doom and despair for contractors in every trade. We do not have enough craftsmen now and the future is definitely not looking any better.

Two of my clients were discussing this dilemma at our table during a lunch break at a recent convention.

"Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?" one of them asked. The other contractor answered,

"If there is, it's so far away I can't even see it. I am totally frustrated trying to find enough warm bodies to man our jobs."

Do any of you remember the words from that song, "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be?" You really don't have to struggle looking for a far off light to lead you out of this crisis. You can simply light that "one little candle" to create workplace time shares and eliminate that darkness on each of your jobsites, and then reap the benefits of having an ample supply of good help - while your competitors struggle to look for warm bodies.

Share & Share Alike

Since we were at a beach resort where they were remodeling several big hotels to sell as timeshares, it was easy to capitalize on the concept of sharing. Millions of Americans who could never afford to own a luxurious condominium now can own one apartment for one week. They also can share that one apartment with similar owners at vacation resorts all over the world.

But as most of you know, everyone does not like to (or even want to) share. Teaching our children to share is not easy, but they soon learn that it is nice to be able to share what they own with other kids. Fortunately, most mature adults have already learned the benefits of sharing.

"Workplace timeshares" can happen on each jobsite, at your shop, or even as tailgate meetings on your service trucks. Your employees, along with any other willing participants, meet one-half hour before starting time and share experiences, knowledge, wisdom, job-related know-how and personal goals. A contractor need only provide his blessings and encouragement.

And go ahead and light a candle or two. We've always had candlelight processions for religious events, or lit prayer candles out of concern for friends or relatives. There is no doubt that a burning candle creates a very positive sharing atmosphere, but our primary goal is to create attention and curiosity. Without it, two or more of your employees meeting on your jobsite one-half hour before starting time would be of little or no interest to anyone on that site. With a lighted candle as interest, just imagine how many people would ask "What's going on with that burning candle?" Wouldn't you?

That curiosity opens the door for you to explain. They are sharing more than just the one-half hour of time. Your older, experienced craftsmen are sharing a lifetime of experience, know-how and wisdom; and your newer, green employees are giving that "extra inch" to add to their personal success and your profitability.

You can see how workplace timeshares will identify and reward all of those really good employees that you need. You also will have those positive ambassadors bragging to their friends and relatives about that fantastic job they've found.

Jobsite Jump Start

We use a simple little written checklist we call a "jobsite jump start." Below is one we use on our larger commercial projects, but you can revise it to suit your residential sites, fab shop or service trucks:
    1. Light your candle one-half hour before starting time.
    2. Review plans and specs, shop drawings and building codes.
    3. Evaluate quantity completed and score 6-8-10 based upon estimated productivity. Establish reason for above or below an "8" score.
    4. Estimate 8-for-8 goal for today's work schedule.
    5. Discuss value-engineered tricks of the trade and share tips on tools, scaffold, material handling, sequences, etc.
    6. Visit work area to assure quality workmanship (plumb, level, square, neat, clean, etc.)
    7. Check for any possibilities of injury or accident.
    8. Return to trailer and allow the green employees to complete a Safe Plan of Action, job log, time sheets, cost codes and other required documentation.
    9. Discuss home life, career goals and after-work activities.
    10. Offer counseling, cooperation, carpooling, sharing and assistance.
    11. Recommend in-company moonlighting opportunities and regulations for extra money, learning new skills, and helping others.
    12. Blow out your candle and go to work.
You can start this with your own employees and invite anyone from the other trades to participate. The workplace timeshare is especially effective for attracting, building and maintaining that female workforce we discussed in the last four issues.

All of this sounds too good to be true and we have not even come to the best part. Attracting and involving America's retired craftsmen will "put the icing on the cake." We have millions of retired craftsmen and contractors who would proudly participate in a workplace timeshare opportunity. Just imagine how much of their entire life's experiences your employees would love to share.

Their experience, know-how, wisdom, work ethics and morals are desperately needed by our younger generation. They have nowhere else to get it, and our retired craftsmen have nothing else to do with it. This gives them a golden opportunity to give something back to this great industry that supported their existence on Earth.

This entire concept is my Green & Gold mentoring program that I've been using and promoting for half a century. The only thing that's new and exciting is the half-hour set aside each morning to accomplish the sharing, and the burning candle to create enough curiosity to get others involved.

When you start humming that happy tune about one little candle, you can make it even happier by changing a couple words:

"If every job lit just one little candle, what a bright industry this would be."