Many employers in our industry are regularly losing sleep. Why? There’s one common problem for all of us – we are often faced with trying to find ways to keep our staff – again and again. It’s frustrating, it’s tiresome, it’s a burden.
The days of people staying at the same place until they retire have long gone, with our workforce more transient than ever before. We are faced with a skills shortage, plus on top of that we have the arrival of Generation Z, those aged under 24. They want flexible working hours and are eager to go places fast! It has been said that Gen Zers will change jobs 12 to 13 times in their career.
How do we fix this? As an experienced Human Resources Consultant, I’ve learned that we first need to understand why, and then we can begin to solve the problem. Let’s explore both sides of this, so you can begin to enhance and grow your own business in an even more effective way.

Why do people leave?

Over the years a part of my role has been to conduct many hundreds of exit interviews. To be privy to the reasons why people have chosen to leave is a privilege and one I take seriously. Some people leave for better opportunities, some are moving overseas or changing careers.

The majority, however, have left because they felt the workplace had failed them. You may have heard the saying “People join companies and leave managers” and unfortunately this rings true more often than not. Below are just some examples I have heard and continue to hear from employees and contractors terminating their agreements:

I’m not paid enough for all the hours and type of work I do
I’m just not appreciated
My boss just doesn’t understand or seem to care
It’s all just got too hard and I can work for the guy down the road for more money and less hours.

It’s takes more than a Xmas Party!

So just how much does it take to keep your staff for a long time, and happy with their workplace?

I once had a client who proudly told me his staff are “all good” as he puts on a great Xmas party for them and their family. Due to the fact, his staff turnover was sitting at 30%, I asked what else he did for them during the year and he said that was enough and was a bit put out I would even ask.

The truth is as managers and owners, it’s just not enough to rely on a one-time event anymore. As mentioned earlier with our Gen Zers, they know what they want and expect to get it quickly.

Another client in the excavation industry shared with me that he “pays top dollar to his guys” and that has worked to date. He did also mention that he tends to turn a blind eye to some of the behaviour, which he knows is not good because he feels if he addressed it, they would leave. By not addressing these behaviours unfortunately he is condoning their actions. I am currently working with him on how to have those courageous conversations, so he gets the best from his team and his workers are motivated to stay for the right reasons.

Getting the foundations right

So how can you gain more sleep and keep your staff? To have a sustainable workforce that you can trust to help you bring your project in on time or deliver to a client of yours is vital to your business success. When you are pitching for business you ensure you have all the terms and conditions sorted with your client typically before work commences. The same has to be done for your workforce.

Your contractors and sub-contractors agreements should be clearly written in plain English, with the relevant clauses included to protect both parties. There should also be a schedule of duties attached or a job description so that people know what to do.

Set clear goals for every worker on your team, whether they be a permanent employee or contractor. You would be surprised how many people tell me they have no job description or anything recorded of what is expected of them.

One last tip – don’t leave it until Christmas to celebrate. When the people on your team do achieve their goals, celebrate their achievements, whether it’s small or large. The key is to take some time to celebrate it in a way that is authentic to the person, and doesn’t feel like you’re just ticking the box.

Making Time for your team

Holding regular catch-ups prove time and time again to be worth their weight in gold. When you know the issues that your team are facing (whether personal or professional) you are better equipped to deal with any dramas before they escalate.

An example of where I saw this in action was at an engineering firm when a key member of a large project team starting withdrawing from meetings and started to miss their milestones. The manager addressed it by making himself available, even though he had his projects he needed to deliver, to spend time with this employee to get to understand what the issues were. Others saw this and knew they could rely on their manager to support them. It wasn’t long before this manager started to receive requests from people in other areas of the business wanting to join his project and team. For him his people came first and his turnover percentage of staff leaving was the lowest in the company with his engagement score the highest.

Having effective staff retention strategies that keep your top talent around for the long haul is essential for business success. Getting the people stuff right, is what we, at Tradie HR do. We are here to help you in all areas of HR, making it simpler for you, as owners and managers to grow your business and keep your staff!