Loyal Employees are Your Most Valuable Asset

Last month I talked about how important it is to do your due diligence in recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. When you have hired the best, you want to keep them because good employees are challenging to find in this competitive labour market. Are you properly armed to win the employee retention battle?

The most obvious consideration is the rate of compensation you are offering. Often that is the carrot dangled to attract the best staff but for many employees, a competitive rate of pay isn’t the reason they stay.

Employees report that they want to feel they have a stake in the success of the business and are part of a team. Do you take time to celebrate organizational and employee milestones and accomplishments and create opportunities for team-building and socializing?

There are other perks to think about. Do you provide extended benefits or contribute to an employee’s RRSP? Some businesses pay for Costco memberships for each of their staff. Some offer a day off for the employee’s birthday and others organize birthday celebrations in the office complete with cake and a glass of bubbly. Have you considered offering your staff educational opportunities which might lead to a promotion? There are organizations that start employees with four weeks of holidays a year. Flexible schedules might be the key to retaining certain employees so they can more easily meet their family and work obligations. You will need to get curious and creative to learn what matters most to your individual employees.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, be a strong leader. Demonstrate your willingness to hear feedback, positive and negative. Don’t take your good workers for granted. Ensure your employees are well-suited to and trained for their positions, check in on them often to alleviate any points of contention and treat your employees like they are the most important asset of your business. Because they truly are.

 

Do it Right or Do it Over

Gather together a group of business owners or managers today and the topic of conversation naturally turns to the difficulty of recruiting and retaining employees. The first of two articles on these challenges, this one will deal with recruitment issues.

The cost to recruit and train an employee for an entry-level position is estimated to be about 16% of a year’s wages. Recruiting costs for senior managers can range as high as 200% of the position’s yearly salary. The recruitment process is time-consuming and expensive. The traditional method of hiring was to place an ad, expect to receive an overwhelming number of calls and applications, screen out most of the applicants, interview the top three candidates and hire the one who seemed to be the best fit for the position. This strategy does not work in this current labour market. Some companies have gotten so desperate they have resorted to paying candidates to come in for an interview. It’s a given that your compensation package must be competitive in order to attract the best candidates but potential new employees are looking beyond compensation. Also important to them is a work-life balance, flexibility, work that feels meaningful, shared values, and opportunities for growth.  

Reported HR woes include “job ghosting” by new hires who just don’t show up for work. Increasingly common are situations where new employees are asked to do a task they don’t understand or are requested to do something they don’t wish to do and simply walk out. These are examples of employees who were not well-matched for the job, were not properly trained, or found themselves in a work environment that did not provide the necessary support. If you don’t have time to recruit, onboard and train new hires properly, you will find the time to do it again

When it’s so difficult to find employees you are tempted to place any warm body. Hiring the right person can bring you new customers. Sometimes hiring the wrong person will result in you having to do a lot of clean up to restore your clients’ faith in your business. Recruiting is a full-time job. Business owners must be looking for the next best employee at networking events, in the grocery line-up, at their child’s sporting event, and at get-togethers with family and friends. When you have identified an appropriate candidate, it is crucial that you take the time to check references and ensure they are a good fit. Go beyond the information and contacts that are readily available. Listen to what is being said and for what isn’t. Once you have made the hiring decision, tailor the orientation and training so as to establish the best possible foundation for your new hire.

And then, when you are congratulating yourself for finally placing a winner, turn your attention to how you are going to keep that person engaged and employed. You don’t want to watch your investment walk out the door to another company which more clearly demonstrates their long-term commitment to their employees.

 

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Focus on What You Can Control

The brave souls who go into business for themselves are continuously faced with challenges to their success. Some of these will be outside their control. For example, businesses in this area have had to cope with downturns in the economy as well as competition from outside areas including big box and online sellers.

We have heard Peninsula businesses expressing more localized concerns recently that they suggest are responsible for decreased sales. These include a lack of parking, the number of developments underway which create impediments to the easy movement of customers and deliveries, and the belief that the look and size of some of the new builds negatively impacts the charm and livability of our community.

Even in dire economic situations there are always a select few entrepreneurs who succeed, indeed thrive, in spite of their challenges. So what makes these entrepreneurs different? Perhaps they have a better understanding of their inventory and knowledge of what appeals to their customers and their items are priced appropriately. Maybe they and their staff deliver customer service that wows, creating customer loyalty and repeat business. Maybe, despite a location that isn’t ideal, they have compensated with a stellar marketing campaign so their customers never have trouble finding them. Possibly, even though they are offering items their customers want, they realize it isn’t being showcased as well as it could be and seek expertise to help them create more appealing displays. Maybe they use customer feedback to determine optimal operating hours for their clientele. It could be they intuited the value to their business of a community-first mindset and have developed a mutually supportive network of fellow business-owners to share best practices and to whom they refer customers and employees.

The point is, they assess how they are contributing to their own success, or, lack thereof. No one person can excel at all aspects of their business. The trick is to figure out the areas in which you need help and build a team.  It’s easier to look for outside factors and throw shade in that direction but it’s more satisfactory and realistic to start with what you can control and grow from there.

 

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

The Knock-out Punch of a Testimonial

This email from one of our members arrived in my inbox one day. The sender had copied it to five employees within his organization. It read:

“Hi Denny

I am writing to express my most sincere gratitude to the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce for the unbelievable support you have offered to EMCS Industries Ltd (MARELCO).

From your initial support in providing us a letter of support, to the Tour of Industry, multiple informative articles…, Facebook exposure, SPCOC website and today the Chamber Directory…, I cannot thank you enough for putting us out there after being anonymous locally for so long. Anodes are now a known entity, and the enormous expense they save in the shipping industry is now almost common knowledge in our seaside paradise we call home.

With a new Anti Fouling product to be released to the recreational vessel market in the very near future, the fact that we will have a visible platform to work from is entirely thanks to the support we have received from the Chamber.

We are very excited about our future, and your support is, and will always be, paramount.

Please pass on our big thanks to all Directors and staff, we really appreciate you guys!

All the very best

Trevor Tasker

President

Reading it made my year. The fact that it was unsolicited was the icing on a fantastic cake. I printed it out and hung it by my desk. It continues to inspire me and remind me that what we do truly makes a difference. You may be wondering if it was an isolated incident. It wasn’t.

We dropped the ball when we didn’t celebrate by sharing what our members were saying about us. When your customers tell you they love you, let people know! Testimonials send a clear signal to potential clients that your current customers trust and have faith in you. Trust is a precious commodity in business. Those unbiased, genuine opinions from the peers, friends, and neighbours of your potential clients represent a golden opportunity.

No more will we squander those precious testimonials. Taking our lead from a popular hot sauce tag line, going forward we will be sprinkling that sh*t on everything. And so should you.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Our Economy is Delivered by Truck

You likely have not given much thought to how the items you buy arrived at the store. Almost 90% of all consumer goods (by weight) in Canada are moved, for at least a portion of their journey, by truck. On Vancouver Island that number is much closer to 100% as we rely, almost exclusively, on trucks to deliver our food, fuel, and other consumer goods. The trucking industry has grown by more than 30% in the last 10 years. According to ICBC insurance data, approximately 1000 new heavy duty commercial trucks are added to BC’s roads each year.

There are two issues that are going to materially change the way goods are transported in this country. First, by 2020, trucks and buses will be required to be fitted with Electronic Logging Devices. This is an important safety initiative and it will have significant impact on communities which will need to be prepared to host trucks and drivers with appropriate space and amenities when they park for their mandated rest periods. Companies are in desperate need of employees. Currently 93% of their drivers are men. Women are interested in the relatively high-paying driving jobs but the lack of safe rest spaces with facilities is a true barrier to employment in trucking for most women.

The second issue is an increasing awareness by the trucking industry that they need to become more green. Approximately 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced by motor carriers. Tesla is producing an electric semi truck but the maximum distance it can travel is 800 km before charging and that distance can only be attained on flat terrain with limited load weight. Nikola plans to have its hydrogen trucks in production by 2020. Likely, the trucks of the future will be hydrogen/electric hybrids which will necessitate installation of fueling and charging stations.

For the more than 30 years our Information Centre has been in operation on the Pat Bay Highway, the site has acted as a de facto truck stop. Drivers stop here to transfer loads, take bathroom and smoke breaks, to teach new drivers, and to rest overnight. We don’t encourage all of these activities because their trucks take a toll on our curbs and pavement and the drivers are not always responsible users of the garbage cans and washrooms. Accommodating trucks and drivers is a strain on our Chamber’s limited financial resources. Our signs indicate we don’t allow overnight parking and occasionally the RCMP tell drivers they have to leave, but because they have nowhere else to go, there are several trucks parked here every night. Given our economic reliance on trucks and the goods they deliver, it is in our best interest to be more welcoming by providing safe, rest places with appropriate amenities.

For many years we have considered how we could make better use of our site on the highway and potentially make use of the property behind us to accommodate trucks. We will continue consultations with the BC Trucking Association and initiate discussions with BC Ferries, Ministry of Transportation and our own MLA, Adam Olsen in our efforts to provide support for the trucking industry. Our economic well-being depends on it.

Transformative Disruption in the Workplace

Gather two or more employers together and discussion naturally turns to difficulties they are experiencing in hiring and retaining employees. Many Peninsula businesses have ‘Help Wanted’ signs in their windows. Finding staff with the appropriate skills and experience is the most commonly-expressed challenge.

This situation has arisen due to a convergence of factors: one being the low unemploymen (more…)

Building Bridges Between Institutions – Part 3

Employers report that new workers entering the workforce often do not have the skills required to fulfill the terms of their employment. In addition, much of the existing workforce requires retraining to update their skills so companies can continue to compete in the changing economy. Educational institutions and local employers would benefit from a closer working relationship. We are pleased to participate in organizing is the EduTech trade show, scheduled for the fall, which will do exactly that – provide a direct link between Peninsula employers, educators and students. (more…)

It Takes a Region to Raise an Economy – Part 2 of 3

Last month I discussed the strategy of growing the economy by attracting more people to live in an area and suggested the most desirable groups to target based on their ability and willingness to contribute to the overall health of a community are baby boomers, entrepreneurial immigrants and millennials. Now we will look at how the quality of place matters in attracting newcomers. (more…)

Economic Growth through Population Growth Part I in a series

There was a significant shift between the old and new economies that occurred between the 1990’s and 2000’s. The old economy is filled with success stories of companies whose road to prosperity began initially by identifying an inexpensive place to do business in a community with preferential zoning and taxation policies and ideally, an established industrial park. People followed the jobs. Manufacturing businesses, largely dependent upon fossil fuels, were responsible for much of the economic growth. (more…)

Shut Up and Listen!

Many years ago I had the privilege to work on a community economic development project with Ernesto Sirolli. Lessons from that project and from his book Ripples from the Zambezi: Passion Entrepreneurship and the Rebirth of Local Economies, have long resonated. His lifelong passion for empowering entrepreneurs is inspirational and instructional when considering how we provide aid or assistance to countries or to people in our own communities. (more…)