The Great Resignation and the current job climate has amplified what was already a pre-existing issue for our profession: finding and attracting good staff to serve the families in our care.
Talking to my daughter’s 5- and 6-year-old friends, most of them want to be firefighters, veterinarians or astronauts. I have occasionally run across a child who wants to be a trash collector or dinosaur hunter, but have yet to find someone whose youthful aspiration is working at a cemetery or serving as a funeral director. At that age this is understandable; there is hopefully little life exposure to our profession and lack of clarity or understanding about what we do. In later stages of life, though, that lack of familiarity evolves to a perception of strangeness or distaste. This is truly unfortunate, because as we all know, our profession offers meaningful and fulfilling opportunities to serve families in our communities during some of their most difficult days. Those who find their calling in what we do find a passion and often a lifelong career surrounded by caring colleagues and friends.
How do we overcome the perception and the stigma? This is something that we as a profession have wrestled with time and again, and today we can reflect on one small piece of the puzzle. To attract and retain top quality talent in today’s environment, it is critical to equip a staff with proper modern tooling for serving the families in their care.
Think for a moment about how the typical funeral home or cemetery walks a family through the purchasing process. In either environment, there is typically a lot of physical paperwork involved where the same information is written multiple times on different documents, and the staff’s time–as well as the customer’s–is spent duplicating information and double checking for errors. In the cemetery environment, staff are often in the position of having to ask a family to wait for 15 or 20 minutes while they verify the availability of property in the area of interest for their customer.
As a profession, we have not provided a modern experience for today’s consumer. This makes it harder for us to attract top quality talent when those people have already intersected with this reality, and with consumers’ rapidly shifting expectations, funeral staff can be in an increasingly disadvantaged position when they are trying to serve modern customers.