This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leading a Double Worklife
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  The Herman Trend Alert

July 21, 2021

The Results of the End of Competence

Back in the late 1990s, when employers experienced serious skilled labor shortages, sometimes facilities had to wait for weeks to get repairs made. From HVAC technicians to mechanics who fixed moving sidewalks at airports, facilities managers awaited the arrival of their repairmen for long times.

What's Happening Now
Now, throughout the world, worker shortages are resulting in all kinds of problems. Much customer service has been moved offshore, resulting in poor customer service. Many (if not most) restaurants have fewer service hours; some are closing sections of their restaurants, while others are closing for whole days. Plus, due to the lack of experienced, qualified people to work those service jobs, the quality of their output has dropped.

Productivity will Suffer
When people have less experience on the job, typically productivity suffers. They need time to discover where things are and how to do the job well. Also, when people are learning a job, they usually take longer to accomplish it. When you are replacing long-tenured employees with new ones, the learning curve is often weeks or months.

Customer Service will Diminish
From restaurant servers to in-bound marketing reps, there are shortages of experienced workers. Those shortages have already resulted in longer waiting times, dropped calls, and the need to deal with customer service people who do not speak the language well.

The Quality of Some Services will Suffer
This one is personal. On June 6th, my husband and I had the coil in our attic air conditioning unit replaced. Because we inherited American Home Shield (AHS) with the house, we called them. They sent a local low-cost contractor who, not surprisingly, did not do an adequate job. (Their service tech even admitted he had never installed a coil like ours before.) When we had our annual inspection, we discovered the coil was installed without access to the drain line which must be cleared regularly to prevent leaks, and that there were other problems as well. However, when we called AHS, the response was that we were "beyond their 30-day window," and we should call the contractor. The contractor denied that there was a problem with their job but offered to fix it---for a price. Needless to say, we are not happy with AHS, and when I went online, I discovered many other folks like us are also unhappy.

Profit will be Affected
When levels of service are down, oftentimes customers are upset and consider moving their business elsewhere. Lower profits generally follow. When customers leave, it can be the beginning of an "unstoppable downward spiral," causing the eventual demise of the company. It goes like this: Fewer customer service people mean longer wait times; some customers hang up, deciding to take their business someplace else. When the number of customers drops, the company cannot afford retain the same number of customer service folks. That means for the remaining customers, the wait times are often even longer which results in more customer attrition. . .and on the spiral goes downward.

Companies will Need their Loyal Stakeholders More than Ever
Wise companies will be proactive in letting their valued customers know what is going on with them. That pre-emptive communication does not just mean changing the message "on hold" to include "we are experiencing higher than usual call volumes;" what it does mean is letting customers know through emails or newsletters or even texts what they may expect if service is diminished.

One Company's Solution
Let me give you an example of how to do what I am recommending: For those of you read this Herman Trend Alert regularly, you may remember that I use a vegan meal kit service called Purple Carrot. Yesterday, the day before delivery day, the company sent an email, apologizing for the inconvenience, that their recipe booklets usually included in the boxes would not be there this week. The work around was to either download the provided pdf or simply print the specific needed pages. As their loyal (read "weekly") customer, I understood and sincerely appreciated the advance notice.

Coping Suggestions for Consumers
This period of our lives dealing with poor service, longer wait times, and poor quality will not be pleasant. However, we do have a choice. We can stress out about the situation, or we can understand that we have little control over these circumstances. Now, I am not saying that we should simply ignore poor service and/or accept lesser quality products; we still have choices. We can choose to look for other suppliers or service people---and do our best to check them out ahead of time. However, be advised, as this Herman Trend Alert has detailed, these are widespread problems. For a while, there will be a fairly widespread level of incompetence. Get upset or learn to live with tolerable levels. The choice is yours . . . and hopefully, you are now a more informed consumer!

We trust that this incompetence will be temporary.

Special thanks to my friend Ann Price, former CEO of Motek, the first organization to be named an Employer of Choice® for her contribution of the changes in the restaurant industry she has seen in Los Angeles. We will be writing more about these shifts in the future.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: The Humanity Factor
As companies embrace technology, it is vital to remember that it is human beings who will be interfacing with that new software and hardware. Keeping in mind what we know about neuroscience will help a lot when it comes to integrating new technologies into our current systems.

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Responding to the tight labor market, more and more employers are understanding the value of being recognized as Employers of Choice®. In fact, we have three employers going through the process right now! Celebrate your employee-centered corporate culture! This coveted award is well worth the effort, yet is not easy to achieve. Download the extensive application at; or for a Word® version, drop a note to or call Joyce at 336.210.3548.

Our author Joyce Gioia and her podcast partner Al Wynant, cofounder of the new learning app Ingomu will get together for a special event in September 30th at 4 pm ET to celebrate National Podcast Day. This bonus event will be a free-flowing exchange of thoughts and feelings about what it takes to create and deliver a podcast worth listening to. You can watch this special event live at And to subscribe to the #bemore with Ingomu podcast, sign up for the Ingomu Newsletter. When you subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive the #bemore with Ingomu Podcast via email. For more information about signing up your employees, visit

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