Turnover among hourly workers is high. According to Forbes, the industry average of turnover for hourly workers is 107 percent. That means, on average, every hourly job turns once a year—and then some. The Center for American Progress, a prominent think tank, found that replacing workers making under $30,000 per year costs 16 percent of their annual salary—that’s up to $4,800 for each worker who leaves.
But just as your business isn’t average in the products you make and the service you provide, it doesn’t have to be average with regard to employee retention. Here are our top strategies to improve employee retention:
1. Start During the Hiring Process
The hiring process is when you should be looking not just for candidates who can do the job well, but who will stick around for a long time. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what a successful employee will do—what are the job duties they will be expected to perform, what are the behaviors that are required to be effective at completing the tasks, and what are the minimum requirements an applicant must have to even be taken into consideration for the role?
A heuristic that some use in the hiring process is to weed out candidates who have short stints on their resumes. It makes sense to avoid people who haven’t lasted long in their previous job if you’re looking for someone to last long in your job, right? However, if a candidate looks like a good fit overall, even though a few of their experiences were rather short, give them a second look. Make sure you have a question or two during the interview to determine why they left those jobs so quickly. It’s entirely possible that they were laid off or had to take care of a sick family member. The interview is a great time to determine someone’s character and whether their background and attitude will mesh well with your team.
2. Get Scheduling Right
If an employee seems to always get scheduled when they’ve said they aren’t free, your scheduling process clearly needs an overhaul. Your employees are the heartbeat of your business, interacting with customers and making sales that keep the doors open. You need their hard work each day, and that means matching up your business needs as closely as possible with the schedule they want.
Introducing technology into the mix takes the scheduling process from scribbled Post-Its on a cluttered calendar to something that everyone can read clearly. Scheduling software brings the scheduling process into the 21st century, allowing you to collect availability, automate shift alerts, and duplicate schedules from templates—all from a computer or mobile device. That way, your employees will know when they’re working and have a schedule that better meets their needs.
3. Honor Time-Off Requests
Everyone, you included, needs a break every now and then. And employees have a lot of reasons to request time off: a vacation, a sick family member, childcare in the summertime. As a good manager, you want to grant your employees the time-off requests they’re asking for. But you also need to make sure you’re adequately staffed. If the pendulum swings too far in one direction and you don’t grant time-off requests to keep the business fully staffed, you might have a disgruntled employee. If the pendulum swings too far in the other direction and you grant time-off too liberally, you might have an understaffed business.
This can all be avoided if you improve your time-off request process. Having a deadline in place, for example, at least two weeks’ notice, will keep your business running smoothly. And have employees submit time off requests digitally so you don’t miss a request. There will always be last-minute calls due to illness or emergencies, but managing the planned days off will set you up for success.
As with any interpersonal relationship in your life, communication comes first. Your employees want to know what’s going on with the business, as it relates to them. When you share more with your employees, they will be much more likely to stick around. Make sure they feel comfortable making suggestions for improving sales and efficiency, just as you give them pointers on how to improve their performance. Communication needs to flow in both directions.
These are just a few ways to improve employee retention, but they are a good start to make sure that you invest your time and resources in model employees.
John Waldman is the co-founder and CEO of Homebase, which provides a new free real-time software solution that helps over 60,000 small businesses eliminate the paperwork of managing their hourly employees, help manage overtime, and curbs absenteeism and turnover.