MLR

One Team’s Approach to Retaining Employees

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Portrait of happy business woman showing thumbs upKeeping top-notch employees in a high turnover field can be a real challenge.

What to do? Consider strategies employed by one business. The two owners started their home and commercial repair business because, as landlords of rental properties, they were frustrated when they had to call three different people in order to get a job done. The drywaller was always waiting on the electrician, and the electrician was always waiting on the plumber — and nobody was satisfied.

So they created a company that coordinated skilled services for other commercial and residential businesses. They have found that keeping quality, dependable employees is essential to their success.

Before they started their repair business, the two owners had several decades of experience being on the other end as employees. They had some bad bosses and some great bosses. As employers, they wanted their own employees to feel they were trusted to handle problems without micromanaging.

Here are several tips from the owners for retaining employees:

  • Give them as much independence as you can. When it comes to experienced employees, you need to give them leeway in how to do their jobs. The repair business owners know their workers are more experienced than they are in carpentry, plumbing, electricity and other skilled trades. So they believe it’s insulting and unwise to tell skilled employees how to do certain parts of their jobs.
  • Treat employees with respect. Set expectations and make them clear. Most employees will meet or exceed them. In the rare cases where employees don’t meet expectations, deal with it in private. Don’t put anybody down in front of others.
  • Be flexible when you can, and let employees know they’re valued. One employee of the repair business asked to leave early on Fridays so he could volunteer on a rescue team. The owners not only let the employee leave early, they made it clear they were proud of him.
  • Focus on being team players. Don’t create an environment where employees compete with each other. Be a team. If staff members have a problem or don’t know how to do something, they should feel free to get on the phone and call another team member to ask for help. Emphasize that each person has areas of special skill and they should lean on each other for advice or assistance.

And the payoff for the repair business? One of the owners explained it this way: “We believe the employees are more productive, happier and more willing to give the extra effort when we need it. If I tell them that we have a job that we can only do on Saturday or Sunday, they readily pitch in to get it done.”