President’s Article: August
The heat of summer is here and the heat of business. Downtown is booming and the shops that make up its heart are pumping along. For a lot of us one of our busiest months, where we put our best foot forward to our loyal customers and newcomers. Working to keep up with the demand while finding time to step away and enjoy life. It is a month of balance and thriving business.
As we see Missoula grow and Downtown grow, we begin to see the challenges of more volume in our stores with an increased difficulty in staffing and a strained demand on our labor market. This is not a problem that is going to go away. A hopeful increase in year to date sales but a harder time finding quality and consistent staff. It is the beauty of a growing economy but a labor piece that we all have to focus on. There is no easy answer to solving this problem and a lot of ways of going about it. I have talked to business owners and employees from restaurants, retail, drivers, techs, and everything in between about flourishing businesses that are busier than every but a hard time finding people to fill the roles. It puts into sharp focus one of the principles of what makes this country “a shining beacon on the hill”, businesses participating in the competition of capitalism. We tend to think of this as competing and collaborating for customers dollars but what we are participating in now is the competition for quality staff. Our staff is what makes our businesses what it is, the messengers of our dream and the lifeblood of our stores, something worth competing for. This is what makes our economy so great, because with it means we all do better, our employee lives better, our stores better, and our customers happier. But we can’t stand on the sidelines and continue doing the same things in hopes of change. We have to participate.
Of course, increased pay is always the easy answer but not the only answer. Happiness isn’t just about take-home pay but also being a part of something you believe in and finding purpose in your life and in your work. We need to take a look at the ethos of our business and its reason for being. We have to engrain that into our culture and into our workspace. We have to find staff that believes in what they are a part of because that is how we get the right people. We aren’t just competing for staff but the right kind of staff. If we don’t have a clear picture of what we are and what makes us special than how can we attract the people we want. We have to live by the values of our brand through and through and bring conscious capitalism into our businesses, creating workspaces that pair with those who are working. No matter your business there are underlying values and traits that make it up. There are enough people, but the labor market now has the benefit of finding work that pairs with them as a person. We have to make sure we create an environment that speaks to us to make it easier for them to find. It is asking us to be better and our goal should always be to try and be better. Better family members, friends, selves, and business owners.
In the end it really isn’t about competing but finding your voice, attracting the right team, and all of us putting on a really good event. Enjoy the summer and give your staff a thank you, they deserve it.