By Lori Karpman
As the economy begins to rebound from the pandemic, the challenge is to find competent and qualified personnel. Highly impacted industries such as travel, hospitality and retail are finding it the most difficult to perform this task.
The unemployment rate in Canada has reached unprecedented highs during the pandemic. However, the number of people willing to leave their current job has decreased with uncertainty about finding a new job. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of uncertainty in today’s market, and as a result, the overall pool of job candidates is shrinking.
The loss of an employee, especially one requiring training, can cost the company double their salary to find and retrain their replacement. This proves that it pays to invest in your current talent.
Those hardest hit by the pandemic are those in minimum-wage or hourly jobs. Before COVID, many people were willing to work by the hour, but this has declined and employers are struggling to fill vacancies as their businesses reopen.
In some cases, government financial support for those affected by COVID-19 is greater than what one would earn through employment. Many candidates stay at home and do not return to the labor market. On the other side of the issue, the number of qualified franchise prospects has increased.
Create a great corporate culture
Creating an environment where employees want to work is key to engaging and retaining top talent. Company culture plays a vital role in attracting and retaining employees. Many job seekers cite company culture as very important to them when choosing an employer. The culture of the entire organization is defined by its leadership team and flows from the top down. Ideally, it also moves to employees. When leaders create a positive environment in which people can work and thrive, they will not only be more loyal, but will go out of their way for customers. It will also attract new talent to the pool through a strong brand reputation.
Support your employees
Emphasizing communication and teamwork is of the highest priority. Employees are urged to go above and beyond the call of duty and monitor guest compliance with masking policies or institute additional cleaning and disinfection. Franchisees must ensure that employees have the appropriate training. It shows a candidate that the company is ready to invest in them. They will feel supported and appreciated and thus give their best.
Many employers offer signing bonuses, financial assistance programs, and insurance plans that are all helpful in attracting and retaining good candidates. Benefits for hourly employees can include anything from flexible hours and overtime opportunities to professional training and development programs. Some brands in the restaurant industry, which rely heavily on part-time minimum-wage employees, offer perks just for filling out a job application. Franchisees who use these types of programs report receiving more and better applicants. Business owners can also ask current staff for referrals and pay a bonus for each new employee they help recruit.
Industries with many entry-level positions provide jobs for young people with no experience. They look beyond this factor and invest in skills and development training to help them in the role and beyond. Investing in employees is one of the best ways to ensure retention. A happy team will dramatically increase a company’s bottom line.
Be diverse and inclusive with hiring policies
Over the past year, the theme of diversity has taken center stage. A workforce should reflect the diversity of the community where the company operates. Employers need to recognize that social issues, diversity and inclusion are important to employees. This helps strengthen the corporate culture and makes the company a place where employees want to work.
Recognize and acknowledge
Employees like to be recognized for a job well done. It is essential to thank them for their contributions, regardless of whether they are compensated for it. This can be achieved in many ways and begins with a formal rewards and recognition program. Recognition and acknowledgment have an impact, because it is human nature to please and to want to be praised. Making team members feel valued, even if it’s just a public thank you, goes a long way to building engagement and loyalty.
Do a “workforce balance” with franchisees
Franchisors must ensure that franchisees support the corporate culture at the local level. Do they have an idea of the level of satisfaction and the issues affecting their employees, and if not, where do they fall short? Is it a recruitment, training or retention problem? It is important to regularly measure employee satisfaction. By documenting and measuring employee engagement, franchisors can see where there is room for improvement and if programs are working.
Investing in frontline workers
When talking about job satisfaction and retention, the hourly workforce is often overlooked. Employers should pay more attention to the issues of this demographic group that makes up the bulk of the workforce.
Employee retention starts with ensuring that all employees feel supported, respected and valued in their role. It is important to address the specific issues of frontline workers to ensure that they are satisfied with their work, not only for their prosperity, but for the success of the company.
Focus on existing talent
Long-term successful companies understand that the employer/employee relationship is a partnership, not a hierarchy. Invest in team education and training; it not only helps reduce costly turnover, but also supports recruitment. It’s an opportunity for team members to learn new skills and advance in their careers. Every employee plays a vital role in the success of a business. It is essential that employers realize that placing importance on employee satisfaction will benefit both parties.
Employees like to be “in the know”. For example, if a new program is starting, share it with employees and solicit their feedback. This lets the team know that employers value their opinion and respect them. Leaving a new procedure to employees at the last minute does not communicate respect. Treat employees like family and share good and bad news with them.
“Human capital” is the most valuable asset
With open communication in the workplace, leaders can better understand what is important to their employees. Each individual is unique and brings different skills to the table. Successful employers realize that their most important asset is not the real estate they own, but their workforce, their “human capital”. Invest in them and they will invest in you; it creates a win-win for all. Building relationships between all levels of employees and emphasizing transparency from the start will help owners and management better understand what motivates their workforce and help them retain talent.
Lori Karpman is the founder of Lori Karpman & Company (LKC), a franchise consulting firm based in Montreal. For more information, visit www.lorikarpman.com.