Enhanced and Effective Employee Retention Techniques

The February edition of American Laundry News’ Panel of Experts has been released, and our own David Bernstein weighs in on the topic of employee retention. Read his and the other Experts’ comments on the American Laundry News web site, or see below for David’s contribution.

Employee retention and engagement are two of the hottest topics in our industry, as evidenced, empirically, by the amount of time these topics are given at industry events and conferences, and anecdotally by the amount of time our clients spend discussing these topics when we meet.

This should come as no surprise when we consider the United States’ record-low unemployment, increasing minimum wage, transgenerational workplace issues, and the time and expense required for industry-specific training, especially for managers and engineering/maintenance personnel.

Employee retention begins with company culture, and culture is driven from the top. As an owner or senior manager, you already know that leadership does not mean ruling by fear and intimidation, but rather fostering a company culture that demonstrates to employees at all levels that they are valued, appreciated and that their opinions matter.

Some of the most successful and profitable companies in the world subscribe to the philosophy of Lean Management, one of whose core concepts is listening to employees and valuing their input. By doing so, you demonstrate to employees that while payroll may be your biggest line item expense on the P&L, they are the biggest and most important asset your firm has.

These values should also be reflected in your company’s mission and vision statements.

Going hand-in-hand with subjective cultural messaging are tangible and objective demonstrations of employee worth through the provision of value benefits and amenities.

Employees and prospective employees have come to expect certain traditional benefits, such as paid time off and health/dental insurance, but in a competitive hiring environment, it behooves you to consider what other amenities and non-traditional benefits can be offered to attract and retain talent.

One example that seems to come up in every discussion of plant design or renovation is ownership/management’s desire to provide their employees with larger, more functional, and, yes, more welcoming breakrooms, locker rooms, and restroom facilities.

In addition to these sorts of amenities, and in a further effort to attract and retain employees, companies around the country are adding non-traditional benefits such as educational assistance (including on-site language and literacy courses), wellness benefits such as discounted or on-site fitness memberships, loyalty/longevity awards, employee referral bonuses, transportation assistance, secure indoor bike parking, discounted food and drinks, and more.

Understanding your employees and the impact of the above ideas on their performance, loyalty/longevity, and issues that could affect these important metrics is what “employee engagement” is all about.

Employee engagement is defined as the extent to which employees are willing to contribute their knowledge, skills, abilities, and effort to help an organization succeed, and is defined by how employees think, feel, and act.

Measuring and affecting employee engagement is made easier through the use of smartphone apps such as redeapp and Nudge Rewards.

Apps such as these provide a unified communication, motivation and optimization platform to allow measurement of employee feedback and insights, communication of work schedules, operational and safety videos, handbooks, and SOPs (standard operating procedures), instant and updated company news, sharing of best practices and ideas, and gamification to ensure continued use of and engagement with the system and, thereby, the company.

One of the eight wastes of Lean is the concept of Underutilized Human Resources. Simply stated this means that we need to ensure that we use our personnel in a way that allows them to fulfill their potential and that allows us to have the most success in our operations.

Attracting, hiring and training new personnel is an expensive and time-consuming process, so we must strive to find ways to ensure that once we have found the right personnel, we are able to retain them for as long as possible. Providing the right balance of culture, benefits and amenities, and engagement will go a long way toward achieving this goal.

The above article originally appeared in American Laundry News.