U.S. businesses will face a labor shortage in the next five to seven years, and many managers haven’t started thinking about how to deal with it, says Katie Roth, owner and president of West Des Moines-based Portico Staffing.

Roth will speak Wednesday at a luncheon for the Business Innovation Zone. You can register at https://tikly.co/-/1408.

Roth refers to statistics that show an increase in the number of workers 45 and older and a decrease in the number of workers between the ages of 25 and 44. Consequently, as people retire, there won’t be enough workers to replace them.

“I don’t think businesses are thinking about it,” Roth said in an interview Tuesday. “I think they think, ‘We’ll worry about it when the time comes.’” 

Many larger companies have succession plans, but smaller enterprises often don’t, she said. Businesses without plans risk a loss of institutional knowledge.

The best strategy is to get the right people in the company and find ways to keep them there. And it’s not necessarily about money, Roth said. Here are three good practices when hiring and retaining employees in your business.

1) Do your due diligence in hiring
Skills are important, and an employee has to have them or be able to learn them. But the intangibles are just as important. “You can’t train somebody on how to be enthusiastic,” Roth said. “It’s very hard to train somebody on how to problem solve. It’s hard to train somebody who is not motivated.” Remember, people are doing their best job at salesmanship during the hiring process, so the best way to find out if somebody is truly a good fit for your organization is to do multiple interviews. Roth recommends doing two to three interviews with serious prospects, taking them out to lunch, and having a group interview. She points out that often by a third interview, candidates think they are going to get the job and will let their guard down a bit. That can help an employer decide whether the candidates are a fit, and if they are, it can be a learning experience about the candidates’ true strengths and weaknesses before they get thrown into the job.

2) Show you care
“People just want to be treated like people, and that doesn’t matter how old you are,” Roth said. Know your employees. Millennials, for example are “very dedicated, they’re very family-oriented,” Roth says. “But they aren’t going to give their life to a company.”  Roth contends that most new employees decide on the first day, or at least in the first few weeks, whether they want to stay in the organization. So doing the little things: Have a good orientation program, make sure they have business cards, have their computer and email set up and generally making them feel welcome. 

3) Tailor the job to the people, not the people to the job
If you have a good employee, find a way to make sure he or she is in the right job. Often, Roth says, organizations will try to “fix the person, rather than fix the job.” Everybody has innate talents and abilities, but sometimes people are put into jobs that aren’t a good fit. Often it just takes finding a job that is better suited for the person, if that person is a good fit for the organization. On the other hand, if someone isn’t the right fit for an organization, “another mistake I sometimes see clients make is they just don’t let somebody go,” Roth said.