Summertime: Work or Play?
Updated: Apr 30
The past two weeks at PAVERART I've experienced what many in the outdoor living and hardscaping world have:
Where are all the people that want to work?
Did humans leave planet earth? What is going on?
I love data, here's a few factoids:
Over the last 2 years I've posted for open positions 4 times on various job sites
Each time, 75+ people have applied within 24 hours.
2 weeks ago, I updated the job description (our business is stronger now and gave we gave more details). I posted on same platforms.
I reached out to 6 local high schools and had great conversations with the counselors who facilitate jobs over the summer. They communicated our opportunities. I estimate that between the Juniors & Seniors through all these schools, over 2,200 kids, maybe closer to 3,000 could have seen this post.
2 people applied on on the job boards. 2 vs 75+.
2 High School kids reached out. One came in for an interview. Hired Him.
The other set up an interview, but decided not to show. I emailed him and asked if we got our time/date mixed up. His response?
"I'm going to take my time and I'll keep you in mind as summer unfolds."
After I pulled myself off the ceiling and said a variety of "adult words" I couldn't resist giving the young man some career advice:
"John Doe, here's some career advice that has served me well. Try and understand and live by a simple motto: Do what you say will do. No need to keep us in mind, good luck."
So how do I go from 75 people applying on a post to 2, and only 1 person out of 2k reaching out to inquire about a position (high school)?
Many business owners think extended unemployment benefits are keeping people out of the workforce. Hard to argue with that for the masses.
People laugh when I say the following:
"You give me a chance to earn free money and sit home or the chance to work 40+ hours at the SAME rate, I'm taking the job." People laugh, they don't believe me, and I get that. Jobs are so much more than $'s and cents.
Something tells me that come September, or whenever the enhanced unemployment runs out they will be in for a challenging re-entry into the world of work. But that's a topic for another day.
What I'm more excited about?
I remember VIVIDLY my high school days growing up in NJ, particularly my junior and senior years. My buddies had Jersey Shore Houses, long before the Jersey Shore became a reality show. I managed a liquor store and worked as many hours as I could.
At first I had feelings of regret, maybe even jealousy of my buddies having fun while I was at work. Than one day towards the end of the summer my boss handed me keys to the store, literally. He wanted me to start locking up, and occasionally open. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The feeling of responsibility, trust and pride I felt at that moment I'll never forget.
From that day forward I stopped comparing myself and my choices to others and I tried to live up to the trust others put in me. Incidentally, while I got a couple of raises in that job, I couldn't begin to recall those days, the feeling or impact that action had on me. The key, however, priceless! Go figure.
Last summer my son Dominic made the trip to PAVERART with me 3 days a week. He's not a morning person, and certainly didn't like waking up at 4am. But he did it. He cleaned bathrooms. He cleaned pavers. He worked on our designs, tinkered with landscape design software. He even met with some of our supply partners.
I love the picture below with Dominic and Brian. Young kids are often intimidated by older colleagues, Dominic is no exception. He looks up to Brian, Mike, John and Nick.
Want to take your game to a new level? PLAY UP. For a kid, that's working with older people.
The one kid from a local high school we hired has an opportunity. We'll see how that goes and hope he looks forward to working hard, breaking a sweat and being part of a team.
We hope to hire at least one or two more.
Brian is considering bringing HIS son in.
As a business owner, when any team member considers bringing in a friend or family member to help, say YES. And Fast.
I've been a MASSIVE believer in the value of WORK, any kind of work. Many of my beliefs are probably considered "Old School." In fact, the tagline of my personal blog sums it up,
"Hustle Or Bust. Where Old School Meets New School."
I reviewed some of my pasts posts on the subject of Work from 6+ years ago. Not much has changed in my thinking. I love the game of WORK. Making something better today than it was yesterday. Having the opportunity where someone could trust me, with the keys to their shop, or a personal challenge.
I'm not sure when the labor market will loosen up and people will get off the sidelines. I can't control that.
But I DO know that we'll have at least 2 young kids, maybe up to 4 coming into PAVERART over the summer. They can easily find a way to hit the proverbial Jersey Shore and play all summer. But they will choose otherwise.
It's up to to each of these kids to make the most of the opportunities given to them. At a small business like PAVERART, they will have plenty of opportunities to learn, work hard, make mistakes. But like most things in life, achieving anything begins with a CHOICE: