There is a constant struggle in any services industry to attract and retain the best talent. Mark Jones* examines some of the ways businesses can provide a great culture and development opportunities for staff, while still ensuring the job gets done.
There is a constant struggle in any services industry to attract and retain the best staff in your industry. Human resources consultants talk in terms of being an employer of choice and having high engagement with employees and providing opportunities for advancement. These are admirable goals, but it is important to recognise that in many small to medium sized operations there is often a greater focus on simply surviving the day.
Let’s cover off some of the ways every business can provide a great culture and development opportunities for good employees, while still ensuring we get the work done.
Attracting the best talent
Attracting quality staff is hyper-competitive as we all know that it has always been the people that make the difference for your customers.
When we think about that most of us will immediately think about the frontline staff, but in truth they are simply the reflection of myriad steps that shape and engage our team to perform services in the way we educate them to.
There are many books written on this topic but most will boil down to a few fundamentals.
- Leadership – great teams start at the top. If you don’t feel your team are at the level you expect then it might be time to get out the mirror and reflect on where you need to give better direction. Be clearer on your company purpose.
- Values – people are attracted to people who believe in the same things. Are your staff clear on your service values and empowered to make decisions when in the field?
- Development – can you point to the steps you take to get employees onboard and then develop your staff to help them be successful and progress with your firm? If not you need to be able to.
Keeping the best talent
Every business attracts a mix of employees at the outset. The ability to identify star talent early and investing in these people is key to retaining these stars. These people also need to be challenged if they are to remain engaged. Some ways to do this might include;
- Culture – one of the most cited reasons of staying in a company is a supportive and high performing culture. This typically starts at the top but must be consistently supported at all management levels, again by being policed from upper-most leadership.
- Employee experience – it is one thing to have a high-performance culture, but the experience of working in that culture also needs to be curated. Staff get frustrated if they are not respected and struggle to interact with the business day to day.
- Wellness – is a new measure of the various benefits of working at an organisation. It is both a measure of leave entitlements, length of work periods, leave due to illness, etc.
- Diversity – keeping people interested with changes to their work and ensuring that the business is inclusive of all people at management and other levels of the organisation.
Providing development opportunities
In speaking with some folks to prepare this piece I was struck by how often business owners referred to being “like a family”. This is a wonderful sentiment and ensures the core team can be quite stable in many businesses.
But especially in smaller companies, strong people can get locked into roles. The company becomes dependent on them and neither the organisation nor the employee have any flexibility to allow the person opportunities to grow and develop.
Without this that star employee is bound to depart causing both the company and the employee a large lost opportunity. Preparing for this over time is essential to the sustainability of the firm and to retain the contribution from a star team member.
Capturing performance data ongoing
Ensuring the business can record and report on activities across the business is essential to ensure retention of “account knowledge” and avoiding informal, non-documented support systems that fail when these key people leave.
Companies using tools like freshops.com.au find that the process of implementing the tool enforces a documentation of how the business operates day to day. It also ensures an ongoing capturing of data on each client, what was last done, what work is done at various cycles and what is required to be done next.
Putting this all together
Maybe it starts with human resources being such a sterile term. I don’t think it was coined to mean that our people are simply a ‘resource’ to be leveraged, but in much of the management materials you would be forgiven if you felt this was the case.
The more we can focus on the “human” and not the “resource” side of the equation the better returns we will derive for our customers and our companies. Perhaps the simplest and best place to start is for managers to consciously step back and consider what it is like to be a team member of their organisation, ask the team for feedback and create the kind of business that good staff will want to do good work at.
Mark Jones is a director of www.freshOps.com.au, an Australian-made, mobile workforce application and management portal built purely for cleaners by cleaners. The work they do with their clients has informed this article and they are available to help you too if you share these concerns. Questions or feedback welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This first appeared in the July/August issue of INCLEAN magazine. To subscribe, click here.