Providing a fair wage sometimes isn't enough for employees.

“I treat these guys better than I treat my wife. They get 100 hours of work a week and they whine about not being able to spend time with their families. Sure I’m not the highest-paying employer, but the overtime they get more than makes up for the lower wages.”

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you are one of these employers or perhaps you were an employee who once worked for someone like this. Properly training your people will help your business, but if you train them and they quit, you’re back at square one. So employee retention is important.

For today's young people, there are many things to occupy their time and working 100 hours or more per week isn’t attractive to them. I visited Microsoft's second-largest facility recently. My grandson works there and wanted to show us how they work and their culture. I was amazed to see video games set up in their break rooms, full cafeterias and work diversions at their workstations to keep them interested in work. Microsoft found that by enticing its people with those diversions, they tend to work longer and be more productive.

Related: Better Business: A Benefit to Smile About

Closer to our industry, I’ve seen some drain cleaning contractors providing breakfast to their employees followed by an interactive meeting about a new tool or new techniques before they head out to the field. I’ve also noticed intra-office contests to attract new customers that reward the winners with a non-cash prize and recognition by their peers. Who doesn’t like to be recognized for a job well done? An “atta boy” for a job well done or some other act above and beyond what’s expected may go a lot further than giving them some cash.

Retention is something you have to work at. It doesn’t just happen. Some of the lowest-paid folks showered with a lot of emotional support never leave their employers while some of the highest-paid people working in “pressure cooker” conditions see a continuous revolving door of people in and out. Striking a balance between extremes is the challenge. Here’s some of the components you may want to review:

  • Pay
  • Emotional job support
  • Recognition
  • Training
  • Keeping everyone on the same page
  • Developing a positive culture

These are but a few of the things to consider when looking at your staff. The old adage of treating others as you’d like to be treated may be a great guide for you to use.

Related: Better Business: Tough Conversations

About the Author
John Heisler is the owner of Pipe Lining Supply and Quik-Lining Systems Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the CIPP lining industry and over 40 years in the underground construction industry.

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