Go back to basics to hire, retain employees

score Question: Finding employees and keeping good employees is getting to be a universal problem, not only for other firms but for my company as well. What's the answe?

Answer: Finding and keeping quality employees doesn't require a trick-shot expertise, you just need to keep your eye on the ball and follow through.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the worst problem we faced was having to sink the eight ball on a long shot down the rail? But no, the trouble is a shortage of quality labor. The balls have been racked, but there's no one there to take the first shot.

That doesn't mean we have to hang up our cues, though. The best solution to your labor problems is to go back to the basics for finding and keeping quality employees.

Here are some basics:

  • Money, money, maybe. Most lists that rank the importance of factors to job satisfaction have money way down near the bottom.

    You need to compensate appropriately, ensure that good workers are paid near the top of their craft.

    When you've reached that peak, provide the golden chain. This is long-term benefit, which benefits you by keeping the employee.

    An example of this is an insurance policy that workers collect after a set amount of time. You pay the premium, and the employees gets the cash value when it matures.

  • Bennies. Every article on labor recently covers the need to provide some part of the accepted benefits package. Look at what you are doing and determine what you need to add to stay competitive.

  • Room for advancement. Quality workers also nee dthe opportunity to spread their wings, either through the present employer or at a new company.

    If your company is small with minimum chance of advancement, consider delegating some of your responsibility and develop a job description and title for the job. This may be a temporary solution, but it buys some time. Next, maybe offer shares in the company.

  • Never overpromise and undeliver Employees are just like clients. If you promise the moon and deliver a cow, they are unlikely to believe future promises. There is just so much rah-rah that you can do.

  • Referrals. A well-written help-wanted ad can be the source of quality employees or a crap shoot. Too often, people responding to the ad are looking for too much money or are moving from job to job.

    A better way is getting referrals from your employees, customers, subs and vendors.

  • Communicate regularly. The more people know what's going on, the more likely they are to stay. A monthly get-together focusing on how things are going, who's done a great job and finishing with a question-and-answer period does the job nicely.

  • Entrepreneur employees Give certain employees the freedom to do their jobs without a lot of interference, which includes the responsibility and authority to make certain decisions. Most respond well to this entrepreneur-employer concept.

Remember : The retention of good employees is as important as keeping good customers. You need to work at retaining both; it won't happen by accident.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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