Employee retention can be a tradie’s biggest nightmare. Tradies are in short supply, the job market is changing, and people are always on the lookout for better opportunities. Most of them won’t hesitate to move on from their present companies for an upgrade.
As a tradie, retaining employees should be a top priority. Your businesses thrives on loyal customers, and that loyalty is best cultivated by your employees. When customers interact with your business, nine times out of ten, they form relationships with your employees.
What then is the cost of failing to retain your employees?
Aside from the high costs of turnover and hiring, constant employee churn puts your business’ long term development at risk. Always taking on new employees means you need to invest heavily in training, and restructure your business constantly. Instead of a team of highly skilled and well-experienced senior tradesmen, you wind up with a business that never quite manages to stabilize.
If you’re having problems with employee retention, keep your chin up. The situation doesn’t make you a poor employer —just an owner who needs to fine-tune their strategy.
To help you keep your team aboard, we’ve written a guide to help you spot what your business’ problem areas. Whether you’re new to the business or a decade in, it’s good practice to keep an eye out for these 5 signs of poor employee retention.
1. Your Team is Overworked
Consider this: your employees are overworked. There aren’t enough hours in the day for them to handle all the projects on their plate. When they do complete their tasks on time, the output is rushed, falling just short of the standard you’re after.
If this sounds familiar, then you’re almost definitely overworking your team. Working lunches, weekend work sessions, and minimal break time are all signs that your work schedule is far from employee-friendly.
While you should definitely aim for high levels of productivity, don’t let this come at the cost of your team’s health and morale. Spend time discussing your company culture with your team, and come together to make any necessary improvements. Likewise, it helps to challenge your employees to work smarter, by adopting efficient, time-saving habits.
At the end of the day, the best method is to find a balance that lets you challenge your employees, while keeping them from burning out.
2. Your Team is Unappreciated
Issues with employee retention always begin with the mistake of taking employees for granted. When an employee feels invisible, they feel like they have minimal stake in your business —and from there, the decision to jump ship becomes much easier. Ignore your workers’ need for recognition at your own risk!
Take a moment to consider the way you have been treating your tradies. How often do you commend them for a job well done? Do they stand to gain anything (be it practical or emotional) from maintaining a high standard of work, or does the gratitude end at a monthly paycheck?
If you find you could be doing more, the good news is that a simple remedy exists: make sure your employees know that you appreciate their work in whatever way suits your management style. A simple thank you goes a long way, and public recognition for skilled and effective team members can go even further. Likewise, consider an incentive system to boost morale and reward valuable service in kind.
You don’t need to do a song and dance to let your workers know they matter. Your tradies just want a sense of being valued —give it to them.
3. Your Team is Demotivated
Sometimes, employees leave for lack of any compelling reason to stay. They might be bored or listless. They might fail to see the point of continuing work they don’t care about. They might be tired of trudging through tasks just to get them done. Any situation that leaves them demotivated can be a reason for low employee retention.
Motivation is a matter of supply and demand. When your business manages to give each member of your team something they’re after (such as a challenge, a family, or even a ladder to climb), then you’ll be more likely to retain them.
Be the first to provide your employees with opportunities to grow and advance. Fewer and fewer people are content to do the same job for the course of a lifetime, so upward and lateral mobility is a must-have for any work setting. Have a clear track for promotions and raises as your business grows.
Likewise, offer programs for professional development: apprenticeships under more senior members, or general training opportunities for whoever may be interested.
Finally, challenge your them with more stimulating tasks and projects. Rewarding jobs take more than simple muscle memory; keep your team on their toes, and give them room to surprise themselves with what they can do.
4. Your Team is Underpaid
Your employees must be able to feel like they’re working under liveable conditions if you’re going to have any hope of keeping them. A competitive salary and a good benefits package reassures your workers that they’re being treated well. Without these, you run the risk of your tradies moving onto greener pastures —i.e. your competitors.
Improving your basic employment package and raising your team’s salaries at fair intervals can make a significant change in the way your workers see their jobs. Studies show that the average employee earns roughly 5% more when changing careers; matching this price when the time comes to dish out raises could be the key to retaining your workforce.
A comprehensive benefits package can also sweeten the option to stick around. Throw in some costless benefits like flexible hours or extra time off, and they’ll be sure to think twice before leaving.
Keeping your packages and wages up to date may seem like a lot of effort, but if you play your cards right, it’ll cost you far less than losing employees on a regular basis.
5. Your Team is Unequipped
When we say your team is unequipped, we aren’t telling you to drop by the hardware store for better tools. We mean your workflow might be stifling their productivity.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and ask yourself how easily you can get things done given the policies that have been set. Does your set of rules and protocols encourage more careful work, or does it pose a headache to anyone who wants to get things done around the shop?
Employees can, and have, quit out of professional frustration. If you’ve done the right thing and hired a passionate and highly motivated team, don’t make their jobs harder than they have to be by setting unnecessary policies. Instead, create house rules with the intention of turning your workplace into a productive and efficient environment.
Equip your employees with the right policies, and you’ll find them working harder, faster, and with a greater chance to stick around for the long haul.
A dip in employee retention means more than just losing tradies and needing to rehire. Your shop’s momentum stalls, development is held back, and your business might never fire on all cylinders.
Securing great employee retention has to begin with awareness: watch your team closely for any signals of discontent, and once you’ve spotted them, trace the problem back to its source.
Managing your team to avoid employee churn can be tough, but definitely worth the effort.