Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Is high turnover frustrating you? Then start marketing to the employees. Companies have whole marketing departments to “woo” customers to buy and keep coming back, but we forget to “woo” our employees on a regular basis. Of course we “woo” new hires, but after that many companies seem to give up and hope that the employees stick around. You may expect them to be there until one day they are handing you their resignation letter.
The best way to find out why you are losing employees is to ask the staff. This may seem like a simple solution, but many owners/managers are afraid to ask. It’s the old “I’d rather ignore it than deal with it” mentality.
Below this paragraph is a list of questions you can ask your employees about how to improve your turn-over problem. You should conduct these interviews in a “one on one” format. Too many managers or too many employees muddle the answers. You’ll get emotion involved instead of quality answers. As these interviews are conducted you’ll have to place your ego in a little lockbox, so you don’t take any answers personally. This exercise is meant to be an exploration in improvement, not to rag on the company.
Top five questions to ask your employees:
Why do you think [insert co-worker here] left?
What do you think we could have done to keep them?
What can I do to make your job better?
What do you want to accomplish here over the next two years?
What education do you think will help you do your job better?
Once you have your answers you must review the information and see if there are any common themes. Is there one manager that needs sensitivity training, or maybe a group of employees that don’t feel challenged? You will see changes that should be made.
Many of your answers will not be used. People get carried away when they feel empowered by the company to make changes. That’s where a good interviewer must make wise decisions and filter through the crap. If there is a theme of changing the dress code and you know your clients won’t appreciate a more relaxed look then don’t make the change just because the crowd wants it. You’ll have to stick to what you know will help the company, not just what the employees want.
Make a list of the all the quality ideas that will help you retain employees. When you have everything written down you must whittle this list down to five. This is the point when I like to sleep on ideas. I like everything to settle down and wake up in the morning to a fresh perspective.
Look at your top five ideas and pick the three best ones. Don’t shy away from the ideas that are difficult to implement because this is where you’ll see the most progress.
Dedication to employee happiness
Share direction of company with all employees.
Flexibility of schedule
This is where the “wooing” will begin. Share this top three list of company changes with everyone. If you don’t let everyone know about your renewed interest in retaining employees they won’t believe your commitment.
Earn Employees Trust
Now that they know that you aim to improve the company-employee relationship you will have to earn their trust. Create a monthly raffle to win a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant. Make a schedule to share the company’s direction with the staff on a bi-annual or annual interval. Give the employees one extra day extra off per year to do whatever they want; if you throw in a $20 gas card or public transportation card it will reinforce your commitment.
Whatever the top three changes are, you must commit to the ideas or company turnover will only get worse. You may want to implement a better retirement program or a continual education program. You will have to make the decisions that your company feels best fits the employees.
Everyone needs to be “woo’d” on a regular basis, otherwise the passion dies out. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t want to work for an exciting company. That’s why your favorite restaurant is still packing the house and it’s why solid marriages continue to thrive. They fight for the love every single day.
You must remember you won’t keep every employee; some are just meant to spread their wings. But you should track the changes after implementing your “wooing your employees” plan to see how successful it is after six months, a year, and two years. Hopefully you’ll see that dedicating to your employees’ happiness pays off by reducing costs and encouraging a more productive work environment.
If you are successful your employees will stick around to see what new direction your company is heading in because they know that you are trying to improve the company. When they see positive change they won’t have any trouble adapting to this improved direction, even if they have to work a little harder.