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Finding and keeping great employees

Recruiting and retaining qualified employees is a challenge for every employer. And for small businesses like ours, where customer service is key and payroll budgets are limited, it can often seem particularly difficult to reconcile the need for top-notch team members with our ability to compensate them.

As employers, our first instinct is often to assume that employees want more of what we don’t have: money. Fortunately, recent studies indicate that as long as employees feel they are receiving a fair wage, money is not the most important predictor of workplace happiness. Here are a few creative, low-cost tactics that have helped fellow TUPSS owners find and retain their teams:

Where to find great employees:

  • Referrals
    If you already have one or more employees who are doing a great job, ask them to recommend friends or former colleagues who would be a good fit for your store. Consider implementing an employee referral program and awarding a small cash bonus or other reward for hires that successfully complete a 30-, 60-, or 90-day trial period.
  • Community Colleges
    Community colleges are an often overlooked source of self-motivated, disciplined students in need of part-time hours or flexible schedules. Contact the school’s career center, or ask for permission to post flyers in a student center or other central location.
  • Personal encounters
    If you consistently receive excellent customer service from an associate at another business in your area, consider leaving a business card and inviting the person to contact you if they should ever be interested in a job. Just keep it polite, not pushy, and avoid poaching employees from other businesses in your strip mall or retail center.

How to keep your employees happy:

  • Be flexible
    Work around employees’ school and family schedules to the extent that you can. Allow employees to submit time-off requests (or dates of availability) on a month-by-month basis, giving them the ability to set their own schedules as much as possible.
  • Make it fun
    Employees are more likely to stick around if they enjoy their coworkers and feel like part of a team. Encourage employees to help and look out for one another, and schedule team building activities such as bowling or attending a ball game with the entire staff at least once or twice a year.
  • Delegate responsibility
    Be sure that all employees complete the MBE training modules and are adequately trained in all areas of store operations, then empower them to make decisions, handle problems that arise in the day-to-day operation of the store, and complete special tasks such as box orders, new account setup, or new business development.
  • Set expectations
    Provide all employees with a copy of an employee manual, and lead by example. Maintain an open-door policy, and encourage employees to approach you with their questions and suggestions for improvement.
  • Reward excellence
    Money isn’t everything, but everyone appreciates a bonus–even a small one–once in a while. Create an incentive structure tied to store performance, and consider surprising employees with a small reward in the form of cash or a gift card for service that goes above and beyond expectations. They’ll feel appreciated and motivated to keep up the good work.

Do you have other HR suggestions or challenges to add? Please share them in the comments section below.

Additional hiring and employee retention resources:

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