CHICAGO — Leaders who value and take care of their greatest asset — their team — have an advantage over competition who takes this vital part of business for granted. So, what are some of the steps a leader can take to not only gather the right people, but keep them in place for the long term?
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the importance of celebrating wins and ways to reward workers. Today, we’ll continue by diving into the actions that make permanent, positive changes in your company when it comes to keeping your best team members.
In the day-to-day concerns of the workplace, it can be easy to put aside long-term issues like retirement, but addressing these matters shows that leaders want their employees to stay.
“As a manager, it shows you care about me holistically as an employee when you make sure that I have retirement, like a 401(k),” says Dr. Alex Ellis, a transformational speaker and trainer who specializes in workplace culture. “You want to make sure that I have vacation days and personal time. Things like this show that, as an employer, you really care about the well-being of the people who work for you.”
Providing certain benefits, such as health insurance, for every worker might be out of reach for some dry cleaners, Ellis says, but for higher-level employees, it could be key to keeping valuable staff members.
“Depending on what they do, and how long they’ve done it, if you’re able to extend those benefits, those are the things that breed loyalty from your staff,” he says.
By doing some research, solutions in this area can sometimes be found.
“I know insurance and retirement accounts can be expensive, but there are payroll companies out there that offer these things for small businesses,” says David Grippi, chief operating officer at Clean Brands, a garment-care franchise that represents, among other brands, Lapels Cleaners and Martinizing Cleaners.
“There are companies that work with businesses that have under 100 employees to offer options that don’t cost a lot of money up front. This gives the employee something that they can work toward, even in small amounts. If someone just puts $10 or $20 a week into a retirement account, that can help, and if they’re there for so many years, and they get rewarded with that, that’s a great thing.”
A dry cleaner can also use a tiered structure to encourage employees to stay in their jobs.
“Perhaps at five years, you get a 401(k) match, then at 10 years, you get a bigger match,” Grippi says. “I think it’s something that our industry needs to look into more, because that is something the younger generation is looking for. They’re looking for that flex, they’re looking for insurance, and they’re looking for retirement. So, I think we have to find a way to adapt to the times.”
Investing in Your People
In addition to benefits, Ellis says that investing in team members’ professional development can also show that leadership cares for and believes in their employees.
“I think people want to feel that they’re growing and evolving in their profession,” he says. “No one wants to be in a dead-end job. Even if you’re really good at something, you don’t want to do the same thing for 50 years. Creating opportunities for growth and development helps employees not only stay loyal but to stay excited and motivated on their jobs for long periods of time.”
Ellis uses the example of an employee who is a great spotter.
“Move me up to the manager of the spotter department, where now I get to train other people to do what it is that I do,” he says. “I feel that I’m evolving, because now I’m in a leadership role — not just doing the spotting. Then, let me develop a spot-cleaning manual. Now I’m moving to creating a curriculum, our policy and procedures when it comes to spotting. So, I might be doing the same thing, but I’m doing it on another level, and that’s exciting for me. Find those opportunities where people can feel that there’s growth and evolution. That helps people remain loyal and committed.”
Providing the Tools for Success
One of the quickest ways a leader can alienate their team is to expect a certain level of results and not provide the equipment that will make it possible. When cleaners refuse to cut corners in equipment maintenance or understand that they shouldn’t try to coax more life out of dying gear, workers feel better about their workplace.
“It sends a message that you care about your staff,” Ellis says. “In dry cleaning, there are some manual tasks that are repeated over time, and they can cause injuries like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome. If you invest in the equipment that makes some of that manual labor automated, you show your staff that you’re not just concerned about what they can produce — you’re also concerned about their safety and well-being.”
“If you want high quality and you want your team to achieve their pieces-per-operator-hour goals, they can’t do that on a piece of equipment that isn’t operating correctly,” Grippi agrees. “That piece of equipment could be 20 years old, or it could be brand-new, but proper maintenance of the equipment — giving it weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance to ensure that it’s running at peak performance — is very important to the employees.”
Come back Thursday for the conclusion of this series, where we’ll look at the elements that go into making your company more than just a workplace. For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].