By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Maintenance Sales News Editor
Maintaining a solid workforce over the past two-plus years has been described as “difficult at best.” The COVID-19 pandemic added to what was already a stressed low unemployment situation in different parts of North America and the world. It has left many company owners and top management personnel asking the same question while looking for new recruits: “Where did everybody go?”
It’s during such trying times that learning about, understanding and following through on key steps for better employee retention is critical. Providing information on the topic, during a recent presentation, was Liz Trotter, a frequent speaker on employee relationships and retention. She is also the owner of American Maid Cleaning (myamericanmaid.com) and Cleaning Profit Builders (cleaningprofitbuilders.com).
Trotter provided a “Top 10 List” that owners/managers can focus on to help their companies build a stronger, and more engaged, workforce. She noted the list does not contain any information that is groundbreaking. Rather, it re-enforces what is important to employees — building on their hopes and desires — and adding to the likelihood that they will remain at, and grow, within a business.
“As a company leader, it’s important to utilize areas that will have the most impact when it comes to retaining employees,” Trotter said. “It’s important to recognize the following.”
• No. 1 Employees Have The Power — “Employees are the ones driving ‘the ship,’ and that is not a terrible thing. In fact, it’s awesome. Why? If they (employees) want, and are willing to accept that power, you (as company owners and managers) can use their desires for power for your benefit,” Trotter said. “If your employees want to be the face of the company, then they will also be willing to promote your company.”
She added business owners and managers must seek ways to be creative when it comes to taking advantage of employee power.
“If it’s true employees have the power, then it’s important to make sure you have the right people and programs in place, helping your employees wield that power for good,” Trotter said.
• No. 2, Employees Want Respect — “That may seem like ‘a no brainer,’ but it can be tricky. Why? Because ‘respect’ is a mindset. People have different ideas about respect,” she said. “What I think is respectful may not mean the same to another person. Different things come to mind when it comes to being respectful. There is no universal answer. What does respect look like at your company?”
Possible answers include allowing employees to provide input, giving them a voice within a company and providing acknowledgement for work that is well done.
“It’s always important to talk with your people to find out what they feel is respectful,” Trotter said.
• No. 3, Employees Want A Living Wage — “Haven’t employees always wanted a living wage? Of course, but it’s important to recognize changes that are taking place in the workplace as it relates to new living wage demands,” Trotter said.
She explained that people today have greater access to information, such as through social media, when it comes to living wage demands. As a result, more people are part of a dialogue seeking better compensation.
• No. 4, Employees Want To Matter — It’s common sense that people want to feel like they matter. As an employer or manager, the key is making sure steps taken in this area are more than superficial.
“It has to be personal. Just telling an employee ‘great job’ does not really go that far in helping the person feel like he/she really matters,” Trotter said. “How can you really make employees feel like they matter? By truly listening to what they say, including information about their personal lives. The end result is helping employees achieve something outside of their working life which, in turn, can help them stay better connected to your company.”
• No. 5, Employees Want Meaning In Their Work — Low self-esteem among employees is a real issue. By nature, people want to feel like they make a difference and that what they are doing has true meaning — no matter their type of work.
“Employees want to know their self-worth. Helping an employee understand his/her ‘meaning’ can make a big difference in that person’s self-worth and overall life,” Trotter said. “When it comes to employees, show how they are making a difference at your company, because in reality, they do when it comes to business growth and taking care of customers. ‘Meaning’ is powerful.”
• No. 6, Employees Want To Be Inspired — A key element in leadership is to be inspirational. The problem is, doing so all of the time is difficult.
“As company leaders, you get busy, you get tired and sometimes you can forget to be inspirational, despite the fact that people need to be inspired. They want to be inspired. They love to be inspired,” Trotter said. “Inspiration can lead to greater employee commitment toward your company. Inspiration matters. You have to ask, ‘How can I inspire?’”
One example of inspiration in the workplace that Trotter shared was that of leaders who show how to best work with customers, even in difficult situations.
“It can be very inspiring to watch somebody handle a problem very well,” she explained. “The same is true when employees watch company leaders properly interact with clients.”
Discussing future company goals and projections can also be very inspirational.
“The future can hold a lot of power. All doors are open when addressing the future,” Trotter said. “It an be very inspiring to talk about what a company is planning to do to make the future brighter for its employees and the entire business.”
• No. 7, Employees Want Excellent Training — As a rule, good employees seek out better training in order to correctly do their work.
“It’s a lot harder to succeed at work if you are not properly trained. Most employees understand that, and thus look forward to receiving the right type of training,” Trotter said.
Proper training can also help employees take greater pride in their work.
“It all ties together. Training can lead to better employee retention and fewer turnover issues,” she said.
FOR BETTER RETENTION
The final three points of Trotter’s “Top 10 List” specifically focused on leadership interaction with employees, with the goal to building stronger retention rates.
• No. 1, Leaders Need To Listen More — Listening is a skill many people feel they have, but in reality, often lack.
“Listen to the whole person, not just the words that he/she speaks. Communication is more than what is actually spoken. It includes jesters and body language,” Trotter said.
She added the act of listening is also about understanding what truly motivates people to great heights, and then helping those people achieve those heights It helps to listen for people’s emotions, options and behaviors.
Company leaders also succeed in employee retention when they truly understand why people work for them and remain loyal to the company.
• No. 2, Leaders Should Understand The GWC Rating — In reference to the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business, by Gino Wickman, Trotter discussed the importance of the GWC rating, which stands for: “Get It, Want It, and Capacity (To Do It).”
According to the book, one way to help a leader determine whether someone is in the right position at work, is to seek that employee’s GWC rating. During an evaluation, the leader must find out if that person “gets” what needs to be done, “wants” to do what needs to be done, and has the “capacity” to do what needs to be done.
The main objective of the GWC rating is to find employees who score a 25 or better.
“If you have such employees, do everything you can to keep them. If you don’t, they are going to take their high GWC rating elsewhere,” Trotter cautioned.
• No. 3, Leaders Must Understand HOW Is Not As Important. WHY Drives Engagement — As leaders, Trotter concluded, helping employees know “how” to do something isn’t as important as for them to understand “why” something needs to be done in the first place.
“‘How’ will eventually be decided. Focus on ‘how’ after ‘why’ is understood,” she said.