Sitting Comfortably in My Slippers Waiting for a Pair of Sneakers

Mark Laplante

June 13, 2017

By Marc Laplante

Two weeks ago, while at the EFC Conference on Coronado Island in California, I was walking down the street with Kerrwil Publishing’s Line Goyette and Susan Adler of EFC looking for a place for lunch. My phone rang and at the other end was a buyer from a large contractor I do business with.

Over the years this gentleman and I have become business friends and developed a mutual sense of respect for what each of us have to do every day to keep that big ball rolling. He was calling to let me know that he had moved on from where he was working, new owners, new philosophy that he didn’t really like, and at this stage of his life and he didn’t want to re-invent himself, so he was now a free agent and just wanted to let me know that he was open for any type of business venture. Nice… maybe one day I’ll know the feeling.

It did get us talking about how things are so different with employees now versus what it was when both he and I got into this industry. People came and went from one place to another but at nowhere near the pace it is today. We both agreed that “company loyalty” was a thing of the past and that the “flavour of the month” seems to be the new way of thinking. If I hear or read the words “VUCA World” one more time I think I’m going to barf. Ya, ya. I get it, we live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world. So tell me something I don’t know. I think someone just got really creative and found a new acronym for what we used to call the rat race.

My friend was telling me that for a while they were contemplating installing a revolving door at the front of their building because their turnover was so high. And this is where he dropped what became the title of my article: “The kids that come through this door are all sitting here with a nice pair of comfortable slippers waiting for the first pair of sneakers to come along so they can run to their next place of employment and slip into another pair of comfortable slippers.” I liked the analogy. It is indeed our new reality as far as an employer. Finding a way to keep your workforce engaged, interested and satisfied is a daily challenge. From what I’ve read, the average tenure of our Millennials is two years. They just don’t want to stick around if they don’t believe they are receiving any personal benefit or growth. So I guess my personal benefit and growth as an owner/employer is now going to be linked directly to theirs. Good grief Charlie Brown! I guess that my dad’s old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” just went out the window.

I don’t see a lot of 25-year-old people breaking their legs running to find jobs in an Independent electrical reps agency. Probably because they don’t see it as the place where they would feel like they are receiving personal benefit and growth, Yet, I don’t know of Any business model that is more flexible and adaptable than the independent rep. We don’t have a choice. My favourite saying: “If you don’t like change, you’re really going to hate extinction.” Our new role as owners and employers is to make sure that our new staff slip right into a pair of sneakers that they will use to run circles around us while bringing our business up to the next level. Hang on tight, it’s going to be a helluva ride.

As a manufacturing agent, Marc Laplante of Laplante and Associates represents a full range of products used in the sectors electricity, mechanics and ventilation, as in residential, commercial and industrial and also at the level of original equipment suppliers; marc.laplante@laplante.co.

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