Hiring with a Purpose

with Sharon Hulce, President, Employment Resource Group

Patrick and Sharon discuss the challenges of finding talent, how to keep them engaged, and the importance of knowing and communicating your purpose as a company. Employment Resource Group, Inc., was founded in 2002 to help companies not only find technically competent candidates, but to change the primary focus to one about behaviors. Sharon believes you “hire for attitude, train for skill.” Employment Resource Group serves clients in construction, power/utilities, financial services/banking, manufacturing, functional leadership, IT, insurance, and non-profit industries.


Pat: Sharon Hulce. Welcome to Coffee and CEOs.
Sharon: It’s not just what you make; it’s what you do to integrate into the community and make a difference in the lives of peoples. Because people tend to hire with their head but they keep people with their heart.
Pat: So this is a little different from something we normally do.  Normally we’re talking to heads of manufacturing organizations.  You help people in manufacturing organizations and other organizations…
Sharon: Right. Yup.
Pat: Hire people and get the right talent for the culture that they’re trying to build. Tell us a little bit about Employment Resource Group.
Sharon: Well, I’ve been in the business 21 years and I started in the business in construction and just really loved that industry and loved a male dominated industry where they were great thinkers and fast decision makers. So then we started manufacturing and banking and some other, we do a lot of high level function based positions – human resources, finance, sales, that sort of thing as well. So it’s been a really great run and I love what I do. And my job is to find for other people what I found for myself, and that’s their life vocation.
Pat: So in the manufacturing sector specifically, there’s a lot of challenges right now with, with getting the right people, not only from out on the line but all the way up through management, and getting them into some of these, some of the rural manufacturers as well.
Sharon: Right.
Pat: What do see going on out there right now?
Sharon: There’s a couple big issues. There’s always business issues that we deal with. Those dynamics will never change. We’ll always have those all the time. But I, I think the two biggest issues is from the plant floor all the way through the executive ranks, we’re losing about 10,000 baby boomers a day nationally. That’s a challenge because a lot of those baby boomers are the people, especially in Wisconsin, they’re the people who run the equipment, who sell the equipment. It isn’t just the high-level executives, although there’s plenty of those as well. They’re hesitant to transfer knowledge and the reason that is bad is in 2008, ’09 and ’10, a lot of those people lost their jobs.
Pat: With the recession, right.
Sharon: So they’re job security is in holding onto the knowledge and not necessarily transferring it to the millennials. There’s also big frustration with the baby boomers is they don’t want to transfer their knowledge to the millennials because they tend to change jobs about every 18 months to three years.  So they just go, listen; I’m going to train them and then they’re going to be out the door anyway, so why do I want to take the time to train them?
Pat: Right.
Sharon: We were raised that it was about building a strong solid organization. So we were focused on profits.  We were focused on people, but we had people who were loyal to us. So, you know, as long as we had the company picnic and gave a steak dinner and did some of those things, we didn’t have to worry about them leaving. All of that has changed. It’s absolutely been busted up. And now we have to really focus on engaging and retaining. And the hiring piece that we’re trying to get people to focus on is don’t hire to “so tell me about your background.” It’s so “talk to me about what’s fundamentally important to you and does that align with the organization.” Cause if it, all of it has to be an emotional connection. If you are going to attract a millenial and keep a millenial, you better figure out emotional connection.
Pat: We always talk about alignment’s the head. Understand what you’re trying to get them to do, understand what the company’s all about.  But then engagement’s the heart.
Sharon: It is.
Pat: And get them to understand what’s their role in delivering on that brand you’re promising out there?  And if you can understand that, and exactly what you’re talking about, you have to understand what their natural gifts are, what they’re passionate about and line them up with where they’re going to deliver on that brand. And if you’re doing that, you’re operating on all cylinders at that point.
Sharon: Well and, and much to your point; one of the things that we’ve talked about with HR is HR and marketing need to be like this.
Pat: Why do you think that they have traditionally not been as much on the same page and why do they need to be now?
Sharon: Well, I think some of it is probably our generation kept them either at competition or quite frankly they looked at marketing in the traditional sense, and a lot of manufacturers still they look at marketing as pretty brochures, about this is what the salesperson takes out to sell. They don’t look at it as that emotional connection that people make to your company. HR is really about that emotional connection because they’re in the people to people face. I think if they understand that there’s a collaboration at the top, they’re functionality is always going to be different. Managing a brand, managing the communications, all of that is different on the HR side. But that synergy at the top of what do we want the world to think of every time they either want to look at maybe being employed here or they want to know who we are and they want to buy our products; that’s where synergy lies.
Pat: Vision, mission, values and your corporate narrative, your leadership communications, your HR and organizational development plans, your internal communications. All that stuff has to be working together.
Sharon: Right. If the leader, who leads this by the way, if the leader doesn’t believe it, it doesn’t work.
Pat: Exactly.
Sharon: But if the leader believes that they’re going to be true synergy at the top, it absolutely can transform a company. We’ve seen companies that finally figured out that those two should blend together and it’s absolutely transformed the organization from a brand market perspective and how people look at that organization.
Pat: Wow.
Sharon: Once they start living the values, it’s amazing how the market, the stock price goes up, the market gets better, all of it because people are truly engaged in why the company exists.
Pat: Umhum.
Sharon: So your sales people do a better job at telling your story because they understand the fundamental brand, the mission, the purpose, why we exist and it’s exciting for them to talk about it because they get that emotional feeling as opposed to here’s the transaction, do you want to buy from me? This is why. And then you’re a commodity and it’s all about price. And most people don’t like price selling.  I mean they’ll do it.
Pat: Right.
Sharon: But most people don’t like to sale on price, they like to sale on value.
Pat: Sure.
Sharon: So everything that you’re talking about is creating value and then explaining why that value makes sense for the consumer to purchase it from you versus other people.
Pat: Right.
Sharon: So, and that’s all a part of branding. So I was excited when I met with you folks only because not all marketing firms understand that it’s emotional. This isn’t just about wow; can you make a pretty logo for me? But it is an emotional connection to why you exist as an organization.
Pat: And it’s all about the connection.
Sharon: It is.
Pat: Right? If you want somebody to perform better, if you want somebody to buy from you, it’s that connection, it’s that relationship that you’re working on all the time. And that’s all communications.
Sharon: It is. That’s why we hire our gregarious, outgoing salespeople because they can make a connection.  Well you can hire an outgoing, gregarious salesperson, but if he doesn’t fundamentally believe in what it is he’s selling, he’s still not going to be a great salesperson.
Pat: Yeah.
Sharon: But if they love the product, they love the company; and they’re oozing about why this creates value for the consumer and then their great salespeople.
Pat: Right, exactly.
Sharon: Yeah.

See more videos with Sharon Hulce, President, Employment Resource Group

Sharon Hulce on Aligning HR and Marketing
Sharon Hulce on Building Your Employer Brand
Sharon Hulce on Communicating Your Purpose
Sharon Hulce on Employee Engagement
Sharon Hulce on Living Your Values
Sharon Hulce on Staying Positive
Sharon Hulce on Women in Manufacturing Part 1
Sharon Hulce on Women in Manufacturing Part 2
Sharon Hulce on Women in Manufacturing Part 3

See more posts about Employer Recruiting/Retention​ Communications​

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Imaginasium helps manufacturing leaders drive profitable growth and change through inside-out marketing—building communication programs that drive culture, draw customers, and deliver a superior customer experience.