When doing a workshop as an employee retention speaker recently, I heard that comment from a plant manager who is struggling to attract and retain people. I had to do a double take and said, “What did you say?” That is when he made the comment about not being able to “find enough bodies” to fill the plant. I was stunned by the use of the word bodies. Instead of over reacting to the word, this employee retention author started to ask about what were the issues why people were leaving and why he was struggling attracting talent. It became pretty clear that a culture had been built over the years (even prior to his arrival) that people were commodities in the production process. Hence, the word “bodies.”
As we talked further it became clear that they were not giving their employees C.R.A.P. Although I sensed they cared about their people, they really did a poor job of showing it or had some leaders who cared a lot about their people and others that didn’t. Those that didn’t care had been able to be successful produce what they needed to but the employee retention was horrible in their departments. The department heads even used the term “bodies” regularly. Simply hearing that term would send the message to any employee that there was little respect for the people who were getting the job done for the company.
As people quit the organization, I can guarantee you they talked about how the company was short staffed and struggling to find “bodies.” The impression this sends to those in the community about the culture is deadly. Anyone hearing this would immediately think, “Why would I go to work for a place where I am just a piece of meat?” Talk about killing off your ability to recruit people!