3 Tips For Keeping Good Employees

October 7, 2016 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Our landscaper told me he doesn’t have trouble finding people to hire. The bigger problem is that new employees show up on the first day then never again. Or they work a week and then quit, or don’t show up on the date they agreed to start. He’s not alone—it’s a common problem among the small businesses with whom I interact.

In August 2016, Indiana had a 4.6% unemployment rate. In other words, 156,677 people are unemployed. The question is, how do you keep them employed at your company?

The owner of a large plumbing company asked me the other day, “Where do I find good people?”  When I take a deep look into what keeps a small business from finding and keeping good help, it’s not so much about where they’re looking. It’s not even so much about the qualities of the people they’re hiring. Both of these can have an impact, yes, but here’s what it’s more about…

Finding and keeping good employees has to do with the kind of environment new employees experience at your business.

From the first conversation with someone from your company to the first step onto your premises to the end of the first day, the first week, and the first month, what is that new employee’s sense of the environment?  Is there a sense of success, pride, and happiness or does the new employee see rattled or gloomy workers in a state of chaos, confusion, or distress?

Does your company have a promising environment or a gloomy one?

It’s easy to forget how daunting interviews and the first days on a new job can be. How welcome do new employees feel at your company?  How far do you go to insure they’re reassured about their ability to successfully do the job? Does a new employee know:

  • Exactly what his work hours are?
  • Where to go to the bathroom?
  • How they relate to you and to others on your team?
  • That it’s OK to ask questions and exactly who to ask them to?

Here are 3 ways to be sure that your new hires sense an organized, positive, and promising atmosphere that will cause them to want to stick around. Do these things no matter whether you’re an 80-employee manufacturer or a 3-person lawn mowing service:

  1. Implement a detailed onboarding. Give your new employee a grand welcome. Onboarding ranks #2 (after recruiting) as the 2nd highest business impact of 22 HR practices. Here’s a list of things to cover on Day 1:
    1. Introduce them to co-workers. Give them an organization chart with titles and responsibilities because people like to know who they’re working with and what the differences are in their roles. It’s OK to handwrite one for now if you don’t have a formal one.
    2. Goals – Let them know what their goals are, the department’s goals, and the company’s goals.
    3. Have a plan for regular salary reviews, promotional opportunities, and one-on-one meetings and share these on day one. People want to know what their future holds.
  2. Provide good training and written procedures. If its lawn mowing, provide a document that tells what direction to mow in, how to mow cleanly around mulched beds, how to properly operate the mower, the weed-eater, and the blower. If you don’t have time to get detailed processes written down at least have an outline—a checklist the employee can use to know what they’ve learned and what they still need to learn. Assign someone to whom they can go, unashamedly, with questions. Have a set schedule of coaching or touchbase meetings. The first one should occur on Day 2 and then at least weekly for a month. These meetings can be short and follow a format of:  what’s going well and what else is needed (with you both weighing in on each).
  3. Be willing to spend more time training and coaching new employees. Putting the time in early will pay off in the long run.

It’s worth it to put off hiring someone until you’ve spent some time getting this all figured out and on paper. It’ll keep you from repeated hiring which we all know can be extremely expensive, not to mention frustrating.