Driving down the road, how many “help wanted” or “We’re hiring” signs do you see at businesses around your shop? Pretty much one in every window, right? It might be at a fast-food restaurant, a store, an office, or one of your competitors. Bottom line – most businesses are hiring right now. There is a labor shortage, and everyone is fighting to snag job candidates.
This is nothing new to the fleet industry. You’ve probably been dealing with technician and driver shortages for years. However, the job pool just got smaller with so many other businesses also trying to fill vacancies.
So, what can you do? Keep the employees you have. Employee retention might be more important than ever. On a recent episode of our podcast, “The Fleet Success Show,” our hosts Josh Turley, Steve Saltzgiver and Jeff Jenkins provided tips for how you can improve your retention rates.
Offer Competitive Pay
One of the first things you can do to retain your employees is to make sure you are offering competitive pay. You’ve likely seen the signs at businesses around you offering higher hourly wages and maybe even sign-on bonuses. Before you risk losing your employees over $1 or $2 an hour, review your compensation packages and make sure they are competitive with others in the area.
As Josh pointed out on the podcast, it can cost you much more than a couple of dollars an hour to replace and train a new employee. He said it can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to recruit, onboard and train a new employee. It can cost much less to just increase a current employee’s wages by $1 to $2 an hour.
Learn Why Employees Are Leaving
If you do have employees putting in their notice, conduct exit interviews to find out why. While we might assume it’s always over making more money, this might not be the case. During these conversations you can find out if their departure is related to the company’s culture, if they didn’t feel appreciated, or maybe they just felt anonymous, like their work didn’t matter.
Jeff said that when he was a dispatcher, most people lasted about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half, in the position. He said in that role, and at that company, the mentality was you get in new hires, train them for a few months, then overwork them to get everything you can out of them until they are burnt out and quit. Then you must start the whole process over again.
While this might work for some companies, with the current labor shortage, you can’t rely on getting in new hires to refill the positions.
Conduct One-on-One Meetings with Each Employee
One of the best – and easiest – ways to improve your employee retention rates is to conduct one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports. These meetings allow managers to get to know their employees, understand how they feel about their job, and what they might be struggling with.
Jeff said when he does these individual meetings with his staff, he also discusses what they want out of life and out of this job, and how the person can get there. This gives him insight as to if they’re happy at their position, and what career goals they want to aspire to.
It also lets Jeff address any performance issues a person is having and provides an opportunity for him to help them develop and improve.
At RTA, each manager meets with his or her direct reports weekly or biweekly.
“Regular one-on-ones are a huge part of employee buy in and getting rid of employee anonymity,” Josh said.
Starting one-on-ones at your operation can help improve your employee retention rates – especially with your technicians. During the podcast, our hosts recommended scheduling regular, 15-30-minute meetings with each tech. To get started, you can use the formula we use at RTA:
- Ask them how things are going at home, and what’s going on in their life.
- Talk about their individual goals for the period and how they are progressing towards those.
- Ask how they are improving their professional development.
- Talk about what their career goals are and what growth they want to achieve.
When you talk to your employees about their career goals, you can then determine what training they need to accomplish these. Offering training opportunities to your employees can improve retention by showing you are invested in their development and their future.
You can also help improve employee retention by ensuring new hires get started on the right foot when they join your operation. Don’t just hire them and then forget about them once they sign their paperwork. Help them adjust to the new role by covering the basics. Make sure they know who their boss is, who their peers are, and give them a tour of the building. And then talk to them about their role and why it matters. Tell them who their stakeholders are, what their goals are, and how they can measure their success. This will make sure they know the purpose of their job, and how they can tell if they’re performing well.