When talking to other glass industry professionals, I understand we are all having a similar challenge. Employers are finding it difficult to hire the help that they need. This is especially true when it comes to qualified individuals.

As we all know, many have been forced to stay home over the past year due to government mandates and fears of spreading disease. State and federal governments have been doling out funds in order to offset some of the losses people have suffered due to the shutdowns. The crisis has continued long enough to result in a change in the work habits of many. The combination of subsidies and psychological paralysis has led to many choosing not to return to work as of yet.

Of course, this is not limited to the glass business. The same is true in many sectors of the economy and in many different areas across the country. Industries are scrambling to find much-needed workers as the gears of the U.S. economy slowly grind back into motion. One McDonald’s location in Florida has been offering a $50 bonus for applicants simply to come in for an interview! Unfortunately, even this extreme measure hasn’t produced the manpower necessary to meet demand. It appears that many have come to expect government to provide for their financial needs, and I suppose that we can each decide for ourselves whether this is a good thing or not.

As an industry we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the rest by more creatively defining what it is that we have to offer. We are, after all, competing for the same people to come and work at our companies. There is good money to be made in the glass business, but we need to remember that people are motivated by things other than wages. A brief study of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” suggests that a person’s self-actualization is at the top of the needs pyramid. Physical needs come in at the bottom, ranking at number five. If we believe Maslow, there are many things that people value more than money. It’s hard to deny that these more existential needs have gone unfulfilled in 2020 and 2021. 

Our current situation may turn out to be a net positive, though, by effectively filtering out people that don’t have a strong desire to go back to work. If we appeal to the higher nature of people we may be able to make inroads where others can’t. It’s important to think back on what brought us to the glass industry in the first place. More importantly, what has kept us here? We can be sure that, if we do not demonstrate passion for what we do, it is going to be difficult to attract others to the trade. Could some collaborative brainstorming efforts be set up to explore ideas along these lines? Are there people in the glass industry that want to become part of the solution? I’m confident that there are, and I’m available to talk about it.