Recently, we shared tips for recruiting employees during a labor shortage, but once you get a new employee on board, what can you do to keep them engaged?
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, leaders who develop their management skills will be better positioned to meet the expectations of today’s employees. Adopt one or more of these five practices to sharpen your skills and better position your company for a higher rate of employee retention.
Measure the Costs
Calculating the cost of a lost employee is one way to sharpen your management skills. Dollar amounts can vary widely, but “if you lose somebody, for example a landscape service technician, you can expect to pay 30-70% of their salary in opportunity costs and hard costs,” said PJ Rovinelli, Ewing’s Director of Talent Development and Customer Training. “It can be a hard concept to understand because money coming out is different than realized money or opportunity costs.”
Between recruiting someone new, the overtime for existing employees, additional employee training and time onboarding, you may be looking at thousands of dollars spent on turnover for one person. Dialing into how it’s affecting your business will help you make management decisions and give you ideas about where to adjust your budget.
If you’ve never attempted to measure how much the loss of an employee is costing your company, there are online calculators that can help.
Adjust Your Job Descriptions
Employee retention actually starts long before you hire someone. By creating a job description that screens the applicants before they apply, you save yourself both time and money.
“It’s a good idea to ask your current employees, ‘What’s so great about working here?’” Rovinelli said. Consider mentioning your company culture and any expectations you have for employees while they’re on the job.
“Business owners know what they fire people for,” Rovinelli explained, “but they don’t consider building that into their job descriptions to filter people out.”
For example, within the industry some companies have approved smoke breaks and others do not. “Smoking is a big one,” Rovinelli said. “Someone might want to smoke on the job, but if it’s not structured the way they want, companies will lose people because of that - they’ll quit.”
Include something in a job description that addresses the issue, smoking in this example. Simple statements like, “We don’t mind if you smoke, just not on the job,” or “Smoking is not permitted on job sites – please save cigarette breaks until you’re off site” will go a long way toward setting expectations before someone applies for a job.
Talk with Existing Employees
Determining why employees leave is an overlooked and simple way to curb turnover and increase retention. There are two ways to approach it, and both involve your existing employees.
“The big thing for retention is to find out why people are leaving,” Rovinelli said. “One thing you can do is ask your tenured employees why they stay.” As a second step, you may also consider asking current employees if they know why someone quit.
“When an employee leaves, there’s probably somebody at the company who’s close to them, or maybe they had a buddy who worked there,” Rovinelli explained. “I tell organizations to talk with the person they were close with.”
When you find out what really causes people to leave, “Reflect on that,” Rovinelli said. “Then determine how much merit there is and basically make a decision to make change.”
Address Job Security for Seasonal Workers
Since the green industry is seasonal, there’s an element of job security that may be affecting your employee retention. “When you look at why people leave jobs, it literally is the base needs of security and attention,” Rovinelli said.
Employees may be wondering if they’ll be fired at the end of the season and wondering if they’ll be rehired. It’s possible to lower employee turnover by directly addressing job security. Rovinelli suggested creating a rehire plan, which could include “some type of bonus structure upon rehire for the second season” if it’s within your budget.
Be up front with your best seasonal workers. Explain that you can’t employ them during the winter, then share your rehire plan and your desire to bring them back. “Retention could be as simple as a plan for seasonal employees,” Rovinelli said.
Focusing on soft leadership skills, like showing appreciation, can be tough when you’re trying to keep production high and expenses low. Here are a few simple ways to celebrate your new employee and show your appreciation for your team:
- Be prepared for their first day – have everything like tools and a uniform ready to go
- Don’t bypass introductions – introduce them to everyone
- Don’t make it a normal day – buy a cake and have everyone sign a welcome card
- Sign new hire paperwork over lunch at a local restaurant
By adopting some of these practices, you’ll position your company for a higher rate of employee retention and long-term success.