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Why Are There So Few Good Employees?

3 Key Points in this Episode:

  1. The three barriers we don’t talk enough about.
  2. The testing that needs to happen pre-hire.
  3. The ugly truth none of us want to admit.

Just before we get started today, I wanted to remind you that we are running a survey right now, you can find it at jamieirvine.ca/survey. Would you please take the survey today? It will take 5-minutes and again you can find it at jamieirvine.ca/survey.

Welcome to episode 88, this is part 1 of the mini-series, Build a Better Business – Employees That Care.

There are three key things you will learn today:

  1. The three barriers we don’t talk enough about.
  2. The testing that needs to happen pre-hire.
  3. The ugly truth none of us want to admit.

Let’s get started.

One of the most common problems business leaders tell me about is related to finding and keeping employees that will help them make their business successful.

Here is one comment a business leader sent me:

“Jamie, my biggest challenge in business is undoubtedly employees. So many are not punctual, they seem to be unmotivated, lazy even, they lack a desire to build and grow with the business, and honestly, the list could go on and on. It’s so frustrating!”

Sadly, I hear these sentiments repeatedly. So, let’s break down the problem and in future episodes, we will attempt to give you the solution.

Three Barriers We Don’t Talk Enough About

Barrier # 1 – Mental Illness

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“One in four people will be affected by mental illness or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental health disorders the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.”

Think about that for a minute. On average, 25% of your employees will be suffering from mental health related illness at any given time. Mental health illness doesn’t present itself as other illness does. It’s not like when they get a cold and miss a day or two or when they get cancer and must take six months off to get treatment.

People suffering from mental illness keep coming to work, they try to muddle through and they often fail. They show up late or they take what seems to be random days off for no apparent reason. This is extremely frustrating for the managers and the leader and naturally, we assume “they are not punctual, unmotivated and lazy.”

Often the people suffering from mental health illness are desperate to get well and want to succeed for you and for themselves. They are ashamed and hide the real problem because they believe they can and will solve the problem on their own.

They can’t, and they need help. You can be part of the solution. If you suspect that depression or some other form of mental health is at the root of the problem with one of your employees, I recommend that you address it by offering support and that you encourage the person to get help.

Is it worth it to try and help? Let me ask you this question. Would you like to have me as an employee of your business?

Well if you hired me you would be hiring one of the people who have mental health illness. I have depression and anxiety and I require treatment to manage it. When I was young, I was wild and out of control and this vexed my employers, but they supported me and in time I figured out the problem and now with treatment, I am a high performing, award-winning, driven person who adds value in any work I take on.

So, don’t write off anyone to quickly because you could have a rocket on your team that just needs some help to achieve liftoff.

Barrier # 2 – Substance Abuse

The World Health Organization estimates that 5.4% of people in the world abuse substances. 20 million Americans and 6.5 million Canadians are abusing alcohol and/or drugs right now. The economic impact in Canada has topped $30 Billion annually for several years.

This means that one in twenty people you are employing has a substance abuse problem.

Sadly, mental health illness and substance abuse go hand in hand and compound the problems for those individuals.

I was one of those people when I was young. Again, with help, I was able to conquer the problems I had, and I became a high performing employee, manager, leader, and eventually entrepreneur.

Again, don’t write off anyone to quickly. But I will say this, “people have to want help, they have to be willing to put in the work if they don’t want to choose mental-health and sobriety your efforts will be for nothing.”

So, if you suspect the underlying causes of the employee’s poor performance is connected to either mental health illness or substance abuse you are going to need to put on your leadership hat and have a frank discussion with the employee to try and uncover what is really going on.

Sometimes having someone to talk to, someone who cares enough to notice, and someone who will listen is all it takes to start the person down the road to recovery.

I also want to mention that managers and leaders are not immune to mental health illness and substance abuse. So, before you try to help someone else make sure you have helped yourself first.

Barrier # 3 – Parental Strategies, Technology, and Societal Influences

Young people these days seem to be wired differently.

They care about different things and at times it can be frustrating because they seem to be so “unmotivated, lazy, and entitled” as one business leader put it.

Well, that may be true for some, but I don’t think its true for most.

You need to get your head around a few statistics and facts:

  1. Since the 1960’s single-parent homes (a home with only one parent) and blended homes (a home with a step-parent) have become the norm and children raised by both their biological parents far less common.
  2. The strategies parents are using to raise their children and the values that parents have instilled in their children have radically changed in the last 30 years.
  3. Technology has deeply impacted the parental strategies utilized by parents and the way children perceive the world.
  4. Societal influences and educational focus have also changed the way children perceive the world.

We are not going back to the way things were unless we experience a global catastrophe that puts us back to a pre-industrial age so be careful what you wish for.

We can only go forward, and we have the young people we have who were raised the way they were raised and influenced by a society that has dramatically changed from the one Baby Boomers and Gen X was raised in.

But I want you to think about something.

When you were young you probably played outside, built forts in the woods, rode your bikes with hoards of other neighborhood children and kept your self occupied for hours with these types of games and childhood activities.

That gave you a specific set of skills and a worldview that gave you strengths in some areas. But be honest, it also created some weaknesses and let’s face it every aspect of our childhood was not amazing.

Okay, well young people today grew up differently, they played video games, binge-watched YouTube videos and spent their time on social media sites. They have interacted with other children all over the world, not just their local neighborhood and they have acquired skills that make them really good in some areas and weaker in others and let’s face it not every aspect of their childhood sucked, in fact perhaps it could be argued that some aspects of their childhood is superior to the Baby Boomers and Gen X childhoods.

If you are a Baby Boomer or Gen X, when you entered the workforce did the senior people love you and say, “this young generation is amazing, they work so hard, they don’t need any training, and they do things exactly the way we want them done and the way things have always been done.”

Of course not.

We lacked experience and we screwed up, we didn’t know what the heck we were doing, and we were even late sometimes because we were out driving our cars around and drinking with our buddies. But you know what, Baby Boomers and Gen X went on to change the world and do amazing things. In fact, the generations before us wouldn’t even recognize the world we live in today.

Well, guess what?

Millennials and Gen Z are no different. They lack experience and they screw up, they don’t know what the heck they are doing, and they arrive late for work at times because they were up too late connected with their buddies from the far corners of the earth doing something digital.

These people are going to change the world, it has already begun, and we will not recognize the world when they are done. So, accept reality and if what you have been trying isn’t working, change your approach and try something new.

What other factors may be causing us difficulty in finding employees that care?

I will answer that after we hear from our sponsors.

Before the break, we asked the question, what other factors may be causing us difficulty in finding employees that care?

You Aren’t Testing Pre-Hire Properly

Every position has a profile.

What I mean by that is there is a perfect blend of personality characteristics, education, and experience level that matches each position. When you identify what those things are you can create a profile for that position.

Then when you hire someone you can test them, pre-hire to see how closely they match your profile. The person that has the closest match is the person that will do the best job out of the pool of candidates you are considering at that time.

If you have not been using the profile-first approach you are not going to get optimal results. You are going to consistently hire for unknown biases that are clouding your judgment.

Remember that we all make decisions emotionally and try to rationalize our decisions after the fact. Well with hiring it is no different.

I believe that you must use the profile-first approach to create biases on purpose. I don’t mean biases toward race, gender, or religion, I mean biases toward personality profile, education, and experience.

You need to know if you are purposefully hiring someone with a certain level of assertiveness, sociability, pace, detail-orientation, behavioral adaptability, emotiveness, and creativity. If you would like to educate yourself about these characteristics, please go to jamieirvine.ca/profile.

If you do not understand what you are looking for you won’t find it and even if you do stumble upon it, you won’t understand why it worked once and why you can’t repeat it.

What you interpret as “bad employee behavior” could actually be what we call “avoidance behavior” which is a situation where you have an employee who is misaligned from a personality profile perspective and therefore exhibits behavior that is counter-productive. This is not the employees’ fault, it’s yours for not understanding the profile, not hiring for it correctly, and not establishing a management system that is designed to maximize those profiles.

The Ugly Truth We Don’t Want to Admit

Have you ever heard these expressions?

  • “If you think it is everyone else’s fault it’s not them it’s you.”
  • “Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”

There are people out there who don’t care, they are lazy, unmotivated, and entitled. There are people who have been crippled by mental illness and substance abuse issues.

But, if you keep hiring these people, is it really their fault?

Now assuming that you have a few employees who aren’t lazy, unmotivated, entitled, mentally-ill, or abusing substances, if you can’t get them to work for you in a profitable way (which is the minimum viable situation) don’t you think that maybe you need to look at your management systems and your leadership abilities before you categorically write off an entire generation of human beings?

This is an ugly truth that none of us want to admit.

The problem may not be with them, the problem may very well be with us. If that is true then we must do something about it, we must develop our abilities as leaders, we must develop our abilities as managers first, then we can address individual employees who are not fulfilling their obligations.

Part 2 and Part 3 of this mini-series will help you to take the action necessary to fill your business with employees that care.

This concludes the 1-part mini-series, Build a Better Business – Employees That Care.

On Tuesday, in episode 89 I am going to introduce you to Jessica Moorhouse. Jessica is a money expert who specializes in helping millennials but the principles she teaches are universal.

Also, please tell one person about the podcast, your word-of-mouth is like oxygen to me, I need it to thrive.


This episode sponsored by:

Trackstar Web Design

Every business needs a website and I have used Gerrit and Trackstar Web Design since 2012 and so should you.

Process Street

I use Process Street to create systems in my business and I highly recommend that you use Process Street as well.


Thank you for listening and I look forward to working with you soon.

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