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Employee care is the best cure for a labor shortage

Bill Lee sales & operations


The number one reason key people leave one company for the next is because they believe management doesn’t appreciate them.

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It’s pretty obvious that finding and hiring top quality people looms as the most critical long term challenge our industry faces. In an industry where personnel-related expenses account for between 60 and 70% of total expenses, finding and keeping quality people is paramount to success. The most service-oriented companies must have the most service-oriented people.

When it comes to people, the cream of the crop receive frequent opportunities to change jobs, so if you expect to retain your best people, you must make sure they believe that management cares for them and is willing to invest in their futures. The bottom line is that employee care programs pay huge dividends.

When employees do leave one company for another, exit interviews reveal that it is less frequently for a better job with higher pay; it is most often because the exiting employees either felt taken for granted or else they believe their progress had become stagnant. How important can an employee feel when there’s no orientation program, no training program, and no formal feedback system in place? Not very!

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Unmotivated, bottom-of-the-barrel workers will always be plentiful. But those are not the seeds that grow profitable companies. The best people gravitate to the companies that prove every day that they genuinely care for their employees.

Every community has a limited pool of labor that would be described as cream of the crop. The men and women who are the top producers in your community don’t have to put up with management indifference. They’ll always be in demand. To attract and keep these highly productive workers, I believe you must establish a proactive employee care program.

A good program includes such elements as family outings a couple of times a year, reward and recognition programs, training programs, contests, incentives, team building, performance reviews, goal-setting sessions, and consistent communication about how the company is performing.

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Winners must believe they are making progress, or they’ll move on to another opportunity. You don’t have to be a giant in the industry to care for your people. All you have to do is be insightful enough to realize that people work for more than a paycheck.

Here are a couple of questions that will give owners and managers a good idea of where training and development stands in your organization. Ask yourself: Do we have a line item for training and development on our company’s annual profit plan or budget? If so, ask yourself: How much did we budget to spend on training and development in 2022?

In my first job in our industry, I worked with the same company for four years. I was told that I was doing a good job, but I was never offered the opportunity to attend a seminar and my boss never suggested I attend an educational program that would increase my value to the organization.

In my second job, we budgeted a significant amount for educational opportunities for our key people and encouraged them to attend two or three of these educational programs each year. I worked for that company for 18 years.

In the first company, I felt as if I was not growing in value to that company. I felt as if I was dying on the vine. In my second company I felt vibrant, alive, and growing. In my view, there was a big difference in the atmosphere in the two companies.

Make your people feel as if they are green and growing. Increase their value by investing in their growth and development.


Bill Lee is a respected sales and business consultant in the LBM industry. For more information, contact Bill at

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