CHICAGO — Building a positive atmosphere at your drycleaning company has multiple benefits: better service for your customers, happier employees and better retention of your experienced team members. In a tight labor market, employers who don’t provide this essential element will be feeling the pinch of understaffed businesses.
This was the some of the findings discussed by Jeff Jordan, VP of business development at Fabritec International. Jordan spoke on a panel that addressed hiring and retaining employees earlier this year, sponsored by the North East Fabricare Association (NEFA), the South Eastern Fabricare Association (SEFA), the Pennsylvania & Delaware Cleaners Association (PDCA) and the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI).
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed Jordan’s first key — Provide Exciting, Challenging or Meaningful Work. In Part 2, we looked at the next two keys — Supportive Management and Being Recognized, Valued and Respected. Today, we’ll finish up by examining the final key, one that allows your employees to have a vision of their future.
Key No. 4: Provide Opportunities for Career Growth, Learning and Development
Many employees want to progress and improve their skills. Leaders who give them the tools to accomplish their goals are the ones who get the best effort from them.
“(Virgin CEO) Richard Branson is quoted as saying, ‘Train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to,” Jordan says. “This is a fantastic motto to live by. Sending employees to virtual meetings or regional training, bringing trainers in and paying them to attend those trainings… these things matter. Your employees bring the teachings back to the plant with them. It also shows an investment — it demonstrates that you care about them.” Leaders who work with their team’s schedules so they can attend adult learning programs and other classes also are sharing that they care about their employees’ well-being.
Making the workplace a zone where learning is encouraged is another simple way to raise employee morale. “I know plenty of customers that do a book club, and they read business books, or anything in general to get their people engaged and churning to develop themselves,” Jordan says.
One method that directly pays off for both the employees and management is allowing their team to cross train. “This is where you have a huge advantage to your peers,” Jordan says. “You cannot walk into a FedEx facility and say, ‘You know what? Today, I think instead of package sorting, I’m going to learn how to drive.’ No chance. But you have that advantage. You can set that schedule.”
Not only does this give the team member a greater skill set and flexibility, but leaders might find the experience they’ve been looking for was there all along. “If you have younger people who are more interested in the technology side of things, maybe they need to learn your POS system, and they can show you some things that you haven’t figured out,” Jordan says. “Or if you have people who are really into their social media and their phones, maybe they’re going to help you with your business social media accounts. There are tons of ways that you can quickly do that as a small business owner that you could never do in a large corporation.”
Putting It All Together
When examining the Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em list, Jordan made a surprising discovery.
“‘Fair pay’ actually came in sixth on the list,” Jordan says. “You still have to meet the basic need of what the market is paying there in your area, but above that, you have the flexibility and the advantage of being a small business to focus on those smaller things that make a big difference to your employees.”
Because these efforts cost little-to-no money to put into place, Jordan believes that these are great tools for leaders who want to increase employee retention and attract the best people for their positions.
“Take these advantages and make yourself a place that people want to work,” Jordan says, “as opposed to a place where they have to work.”
For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.