Good people are hard to find! Never has this been more true than in the current business climate. Couple our white-hot economy to a shrinking skills pool and you get a super tight labor market.
At near zero un-employment, job candidates become a little more scarce, a little more demanding, a little more flighty and a little more expensive. All in all, it’s a good kind of problem to have but never the less it is a real challenge for business owners.
We will all face turnover somewhere in our business, so we need to be adept at filling those holes effectively if we want to reach our strategic goals and serve our customers well.
What comes to mind when you think about filling a vacant position in your business?
Most people start with moving toward recruiting by posting the job opening to find a replacement. Maybe you think about whether you really need to replace the position especially given the tight labor market.
Common first thoughts when we consider replacing a good employee are logical and appropriate; but, I encourage you to take this moment to be constructively critical of your own business.
Dig a little deeper beyond your first thoughts on when and how to recruit. Assess whether you are being pro-active in your efforts to retain good employees and if you are always preparing for the inevitable need to recruit high quality people.
Does your company’s Brand include a desirable place to work? It should.
Business owners are often proud of their business; “so our employees should be proud to work here.” While there may be a lot of truth in the sentiment, the business leaders need to act on the things that make employees proud of and committed to an employer; moreover, we all benefit by being reminded of those positive things in a healthy way.
Four points to check:
Do You Have Clear Roles and Responsibilities?
This commonly appears as a good job description. The benefits of clear roles and responsibilities are numerous and in a nut shell they support accountability, communication, stability, advancement and quality, to name just a few.
Operating without clear roles and responsibilities leaves the door wide open for the inverse of all the benefits; lack of accountability, poor communication, instability, feelings of stagnation and increased risk of poor quality.
Well constructed roles and responsibilities contribute to the professionalism of your business. They support a positive culture by providing stability in expectations and an index for performance standards. People tend to be frustrated by moving targets or even no targets; conversely, they are motivated by knowing what is expected.
Do You Have an Effective Performance Management Process?
This means a consistent cycle of written expectations and objectives that are shared in advance and reviewed periodically. Constructive feedback through the review period is an important element as is written feedback on progress against objectives that is not shy with praise but also includes key areas where you can help the employees develop and improve. The feedback should go both ways and offers a clear opportunity for employees to offer their ideas on ways you and the business can improve.
An effective Performance Management Process will provide valuable feedback to your employees and is an opportunity for you to let them know they are appreciated. Emphasizing progress against objectives and celebrating “wins” builds trust. Formally discussing areas where you will help the employee develop drives accountability and continuous improvement.
Effective Performance Management contributes to employees feeling of stability as they know clearly how you value them. You may have poor performers who find the process intimidating or negative but a healthy business must have a consistent approach to working toward acceptable job performance for all team members. Remember the original point of this post is being proactive toward keeping your good employees and being prepared to recruit other high quality people when needed. Good people want to work in healthy businesses and know how they are doing.
Are You Developing Your Employees?
Development comes in many forms so I’ll just mention a few good ones available to most smaller businesses.
Provide opportunities for your employees to learn. This can be sending them to formal training or simply letting them tackle new tasks. Good employees generally want to feel like they are growing in knowledge and value as they move through their career.
Use “mentors” to develop your people. A mentor can be anyone who has something to teach fellow team members most often a senior person to a junior person. If the business is very small, you will likely have to carry the mentor responsibility. It’s a valuable activity that builds relationships and strengthens the culture of the environment.
Providing consistent learning opportunities for your employees and nurturing mentor relationships can go a long way to establishing your business as a great place to work.
Is Your Business a Great Place to Work?
This can be a hard question to answer for a business owner. You must be empathetic to the various jobs and people who fill them. Think from their perspective if you can honestly say they have a good job and a great place to work. Job requirements, environmental factors like weather or cleanliness, hours, culture, challenging work, compensation, safety, benefits, etc, can all be factors that affect how your employees feel about their work place. HINT: If your employee turnover is above average for your industry/job, you are not likely to get a “great place to work” rating.
If you answer not really, this is not the best place to work, then identify why and develop plans to address the short comings. Some jobs aren’t pretty, you can compensate with schedule perks, pay, or other benefits that improve the way the employees feel about their role. Be creative.
If you answer yes, this is a great place to work, then prepare your elevator pitch on why that is. Specifically, what makes your company a great place to work? You need to communicate that loud and proud.
Brand Your Business as a Great Place to Work.
The above check points will help you assess whether an employee would view your business as a great place to work. I tell my marketing clients that your Brand is what you do, not what you say you do. Building your brand as a great place to work requires you take a hard look at the key elements that make up a good work environment and culture.
By branding as a great place to work and doing the things that make it true, you retain your good employees and make your business more attractive for talented recruits when you need them.