Retaining Employees

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How many jobs have you had in your lifetime? Do you remember your first day at each of them? What was your experience before you landed the job? Are you still there?

The first impression of your business goes a long way — for your customers but also for prospective employees. You never get a second chance to make a first impression! With Greater Victoria’s jobless rate sitting at under three per cent, employers need to ensure they are rolling out the welcome mat for potential and new employees and retaining the ones they have already hired.

Tammy Dewar, a Victoria-based consultant with Calliope Learning, and executive member of the Canadian Association for Training and Development, Vancouver Island Chapter, states, “The time and dollars you spend towards training today will pay-off in large dividends throughout the career of your employees. It is an investment in productivity and future growth.”

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You may feel that you are already doing too much with too little. Many employers say they don’t have the time or the dollars to provide training for staff, or they cite the concern that if they train employees, they will move on to other employment. A bigger question to ask is not, “What if I train them and they leave?” but, “What if I don’t train them and they do stay?” The cost and impact of having untrained, unhappy employees will affect your bottom line, as well as the job satisfaction of co-workers.

Orientation begins the moment a prospective employee first contacts your organization. Consider your application and interview process and the impressions that are made when prospective employees first visit your work location, phone your business, or come into contact with other employees.

Ensure that the first day on the job is their best day on the job. When they arrive, do everything you can to make them feel welcome. It costs very little in time and energy to introduce a new employee and find something they will have in common with their co-workers. Consider yourself a connector and make new employees feel welcome. One of the best things that happened to me (and it was a temporary short-term position) was that on my first day on the job, my name was on my door and my business cards had been printed up — I would have stayed forever!

The Gallup Organization’s study “Gallup’s Discoveries About Great Managers and Great Workplaces” found that employees need six things to be in place to encourage them to stay with any company.

• They need to know what is expected of them at work.
• They need the materials and equipment to do their job right.
• They need to do what they do best every day.
• They need to know that their manager cares.
• They need to feel that their team members are committed to quality.
• They need opportunities to learn and grow.

These statements reiterate the importance of successful orientation and training for employees in your organization.

What is expected of employees at work?

Take the time to think about all the ins and outs of what it means to work for your organization. Create an employee manual and orientation checklist that covers everything from where the bathrooms are to when their probation period ends. Ensure the orientation is delivered by someone who knows the answers or where to find them! All employees need to know where they fit and how they can contribute to the organization. “Tell me what you’d like me to do and I’ll do what you tell me…”

Opportunities to learn and grow
Once employed, a number of methods for training your staff can be considered.

• Access a number of workshops, conferences, and meetings available in your community through a variety of professional associations, colleges and universities, and public training organizations.
• Create a library with relevant books and DVDs that will encourage your staff to develop their skills and abilities further.
• Provide flexible work scheduling so employees can attend training.
• Provide scholarships or tuition reimbursements.
• Hire professional coaches in a variety of areas to help employees (www.vicoaches.org).
• As a manager, attend workshops offered through the BC Human Resources Management Association (www.bchrma.org) on topics such as compensation, orientation, and mentoring and learn about best practices in people management to implement them in your own organization.
• Use the resources you already have in your organization. Assign a buddy or mentor to a new employee: not only does this help your new hire, but it also gives a current employee some additional responsibility and a chance to shine. Organizations such as the Canadian Association for Training and Development (www.cstd.ca) and Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) can help people learn how to train and present.
• Provide a computer station to use online learning and computer-based training that employees can access during work hours.
• Post articles and trade publications relevant to your organization in a visible spot.
• Your employees are a team and you are the captain. So many experiential team-building experiences can be accessed, but don’t forget the power of a team meeting or activity in or outside of the office.