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The workplace as a hire calling

Ann Silver

We live in a litigious society, and as a certified human resources professional, I value the attention paid to the time-consuming interview and selection process that can result in the hiring of an excellent employee. But not all employees make the grade and even with “employment-at-will” at our disposal, they may often revert to caustic and protracted measures to challenge supervisory comments, documented performance issues, written warnings and termination notices.

As a result, employers, and their human resources staff, are often guarded, if not reluctant, to bring on new hires.

JOIN, Inc., a private non-profit serving residents in 13 northern Nevada counties and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Nevadaworks, strives to prepare individuals who are work-ready, career-oriented, and determined to succeed in full-time employment.

Any JOIN client who enrolls in career training is carefully vetted by staff to ensure they are not only eligible for the agency’s free services, but also suitable for enrollment.

In addition to the Department of Labor’s eligibility requirements, suitability extends to a client’s passion for work, an articulated career goal and a determination to succeed for the purpose of achieving financial independence and economic stability.

JOIN’s clients are informed early on in their participation that there is a “quid pro quo” for getting paid, and that means a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Respect for one’s employer, compliance with personnel policies and procedures, teamwork and good communication skills are just part of an employer’s rightful expectations and our clients come to understand that these expectations are realistic and not a form of harassment. They learn that today’s workforce must be technically proficient and educated, whether education is achieved by graduating from high school, completing a vocational course of study at one of our community colleges, post-secondary classes at a university or on-line.

But technical skills and education will only take them so far in fast-paced environments focused on revenue, productivity and sustained growth. One must be emotionally intelligent and flexible while employed, ready to encounter the same stress, disagreements, and feedback that life has to offer us outside of the office, warehouse, or medical facility. Employees need to court feedback and be receptive to commentary, willing to learn and improve without defensiveness or the litigiousness that may sometimes lead to mediation or legal wrangling.

We ask ourselves, “What’s happened to the old work ethic?” Or “How do I find someone who will show up for work?”

These questions are pointless since they stereotype countless individuals who have no recollection of the past nor care to be reminded of it.

And by the way, some of us took years to develop more maturity at work, a calm demeanor and the ability to actively listen to what our supervisors had to say.

What JOIN clients learn during their training — and they range from age 18 to 70 — is that work produces money and freedom; the money to earn a life free of dependency on social programs; and the freedom to have money to spend as one chooses.

How do we best prepare future employees for the rapid increase in open positions and the demands for well-qualified individuals? We share our experiences as wage earners with those we interview and hire; with the people we know who are looking for work; and with students and our community’s children.

We explain that work responsibilities do not get done unless we attend to them, that some around us may not work as hard or care as much and there are realistic and fair consequences for those who will not produce, behave, or show up.

Work is often difficult, challenging, and sometimes annoying, but it prepares us for all of life’s encounters. Mediation and litigation aside, employers owe their employees timely and constructive feedback, an open ear, and acknowledgment when the job is well done.

Ann Silver is the executive director of JOIN, Inc. The organization provides free career training to eligible Nevada residents in 13 northern counties.


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