Jerry Gaeta

To keep people – go back to basics

By Jerry Gaeta

2020 and the Covid pandemic brought a change to our lives that most of us thought we would never experience in our lifetime. Our industry was spared from being shutdown, and to the surprise of many, the work just kept coming in for most of us.

Then came the challenge of performing all that work with a labor shortage, a shortage of people wanting to work, heavy competition from others plus trying to recruit your employees, not to mention the government incentives not to work. The labor problem continues to be a concern for many businesses. Will employees want to stay with you for another year, or will they be looking for opportunity elsewhere?

How to keep employees from leaving

Of course, you must provide a good wage. But that is largely happening already as employers compete for the limited number of applicants. They are being offered hiring bonuses along with incentives to stay for the season or year. The federal government and many state governments are implementing a $15 minimum wage which is adding to the problem. This will cause a ripple effect increasing hourly wages for everyone in the field to keep things in balance.

We need to look at ways other than money in order to develop a happy loyal workforce. It may be that employees feel they are stuck without future growth opportunities. It is every employer’s responsibility to better the lives of their employees. If you can do that, the result will be stability, minimal turnover and a desire by others to join your team.

People at every level want to be treated with respect and dignity. Now, more than ever, it is critical that you create a culture where people are happy to work at your company.

A good company structure that is employee focused and provides opportunities for personal growth with a path for advancement in the company will go a long way toward creating a stable workforce.

Develop and implement basic training/education opportunities to both increase the skill sets of your people and build their self-esteem. The better trained and educated they are, the more efficient they will become.

Focus on your people and building team unity. Introduce team building events such as after-work cookouts, company functions that sometimes include families, award-recognition, good honest open communication with all and a positive, fun atmosphere. It all begins at the top. A smile and a “thank you” from the boss goes a long way.

The seasonality of many companies creates another challenge. When I was a contractor we were able to keep more people on over the off-season by reducing their weekly work hours in the winter. They enjoyed the reduced work schedule after 9 long hot months with overtime.

Try a company survey to find out how your people feel about the company and why they stay or leave. You may be surprised what you learn.

Get creative in your approach and remember that a happy employee will be loyal, and is the best way to attract future team members. Create a reason to stay so that when an opportunity presents itself your people will say, “No, I like my present job!”

Jerry Gaeta is a consultant and speaker, a past Vander Kooi Associate and president of J. Gaeta Business Planning, dba Seashore Enterprise, LLC. “Improving business performance and quality of life since 1994.” Email JerryGaeta@comcast.net