Yours is a pretty typical business if you have hourly hires going out almost as fast as they’re coming in. On average, retail businesses struggle with a turnover rate of 55 percent (NRF Retail Horizons Benchmark Report), restaurants with 75 percent (National Restaurant Association), and convenience stores with 129 percent (The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing). According to the People Report, a third of new hires across hourly-intensive industries like these leave in less than three months.
Revolving doors were designed to save businesses money. The revolving door called turnover does quite the opposite. The thing about this brand of revolving door is that the more new hires and fires you have spinning through, the less you’ll see satisfied customers.
All the studies point to the same thing: find ways to engage your employees. The Conference Board found highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged colleagues by 20 to 28 percent and average 27 percent less absenteeism. And employees who are more engaged in their workplace and in their communities on behalf of their workplace are less likely to leave. It’s an easy thing to say you’ll engage them, and it happens that it’s not as hard to do as you might think.
1) Engage employees with their team building
Finding the right person for an open position seems like a no-brainer, but too many hiring managers find a warm body to fill a position for the sake of expediency. You can’t afford this. Resist the temptation and be willing to invest more on the front end to find the right hire. Try having your top performing, most engaged employee call the applicant for a phone interview. See if the applicant reminds your top employee of him or herself; that’s a great sign.
2) Engage employees with their work
Employees are more engaged at the workplace when they are empowered to solve problems and given the autonomy to do so. Daniel Pink discusses motivation in the workplace in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. According to Pink, employers should offer opportunities for their employees to make a positive impact. Try asking for their input and acting on it—better yet, put them in a position to act on it. Your hourly employees are often on the front lines of your customer service and day-to-day business operations, which makes them strategically positioned to understand how to make your customers happy and bring them back. Let them give it a shot.
3) Engage employees with their growth
A Harvard study found that “making progress” is the number one motivating factor for employees. Professional growth and development opportunities would go a long way. Use staff meetings as a continuing training opportunity. Some employers bring in experts to train hourly employees in customer service and other job-related skills. Give employees constructive feedback in the form of concrete examples of their performance and progress. This helps employees connect their efforts to the goals and mission of your business and corporate brand. Stagnant employees get bored and become dissatisfied. Employees engaged in growth are engaged in their work, which makes them less likely to leave.
4) Engage employees with their community
Studies have shown that engagement within the community can reduce employee turnover. Put together teams of volunteers to represent your company at various charity events as a way to build camaraderie among your employees and give them a change of scene. You can also find out what causes or charities your employees support and align your efforts with their interests.
Putting a stop to turnover is not just good for business. Like Pink says, “We can begin building organizations and work lives that make us better off.” Engage employees, reduce turnover, and see that the greater good of your people gives you the greatest return.
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