Dwayne J. Clark is the founder, CEO and chairman of Aegis Living, a bestselling author and longevity expert.
It was a calm, clear day at the airport, and I had just strapped myself into my seat in preparation for takeoff. We started to take off along the runway and the plane started to jump right and then left and back again. As I clenched my fists and wondered how this would all end, I heard the pilots discussing our next move. Hearing their uncertainty about how to fly the plane made every nerve in my body tense. After listening to the conversation for a few moments, it became clear that these pilots were not the experienced pilots I was used to becoming – they were new, rookies.
Was I really surprised when I thought about it? After a few years of lagging and stagnant sales, airlines are now sell more tickets than they can keep up in a tight labor market. Due to pandemic layoffs coinciding with the return of leisure travel, it is estimated that the airline industry will need 150,000 new airline pilots by 2030† Like my experience accelerating the shaky runway, less experienced pilots may start filling these positions.
Reality check: Every industry currently has, or will soon have, an influx of its own ‘shaky pilots’, potentially leading us into a slowly emerging crisis that no one is talking about – one of safety and quality.
Let’s talk health care. A study predicts that 34% of nurses will leave their current position by the end of 2022. We also have a generation of baby boom nurses who are retiring. These two problems together are causing a huge loss of experienced nurses, especially when many of these jobs are expected to be replaced by recent graduates, creating a skills gap in some cases. Think about it. When you arrive at the hospital, the nurse assigned to conduct your diagnostics and manage your drug distribution may have a heart of gold and the best of intentions, but lack of experience can cause a misstep in your care. Unintentionally sure, but possible.
When you think about other aspects of life, it’s one thing when your latte tastes burnt or your pizza delivery is late due to staff in training. It’s quite a different matter when a novice electrician causes you to experience an electrical fire due to bad wiring, or the glazier misses a step and the window falls off the side of a building. The last example may be extreme, but it’s meant to make you think.
While on-the-job training is common, it was revealing for me to see the co-pilot teaching his colleague in real time and under such conditions. Obviously, the new pilot had formal training and the required licenses and certifications to fly the aircraft, but he lacked the necessary experience to ensure a smooth ride and the highest level of safety.
Organizations of all shapes and sizes are tackling this problem in their own way. Some are rushing to fill positions, replacing permanent employees with recent graduates, and trying to strengthen in-house training to fill the gaps. Others are changing operations, reducing hours and arriving with fewer staff. Some are just waving.
There’s no quick fix, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March “Jobs and Labor Turnover” reportthere is no sign that the Great Resignation will end in 2022. We need to open our eyes to this everywhere – in our personal and professional lives – and realize that none of us are immune.
So, what can we do?
† Slow down and identify quality and safety gaps. When selecting a doctor, contractor, electrician, mechanic, or anyone else in the service industry, do your homework; Don’t just take a friend’s quick recommendation. Research online reviews about the person or company and determine if they have a track record you can count on.
† Take responsibility for safety and quality areas under your control. If applicable, ask for references and samples of their work. Check out the Better Business Bureau report and the Glassdoor or Facebook reviews. Vet contractors and subcontractors in new ways. If you know you won’t find someone with five years of experience, what related experience could give them an edge? Be creative with your thinking. Ask them what they have done for this career and see if their previous position required skills that are similar or transferable to their current position.
† When hiring your own company, consider a new way to check applicants. Ask questions about their full range of skills, not just the skills that fit the position you hold. Talk to them about their learning styles and how they pick up new information best. Don’t rush to fill vacancies by looking at the diplomas and certifications first and experiencing second. You may be in a position where things are just starting to bounce back and you’re trying to fulfill every order or take on every customer and project. Tempting as it may be, it’s more important than ever to take a break and make sure you can keep up with the pace you have without compromising on safety and quality.
The effects of Covid-19 seem to be ongoing, but we, as leaders, need to keep reminding ourselves that the more we learn and question our old ways of thinking and acting, the better off we’ll come out of the others. side.
Don’t let this next potential crisis drag you down. If we all do our part, we’ll come out better on the other side. Lives may even depend on it.