The great resignation has exposed just how vulnerable service and trade industries can be when there’s a shortage of skilled workers. As competitors promise new opportunities to try and tempt your company’s best and most seasoned employees, retention is crucial. For more than 100 years, the Atlas Butler family has made employee retention a top priority.
Atlas Butler’s focus on employee retention has helped the company maintain its effective workforce amid the national labor shortage. With some employees remaining with the company for more than 50 years and many new team members celebrating their first anniversary, the company is well-positioned to support customers during peak business seasons.
Retaining employees is not an easy task though. It takes a keen understanding of what they need to feel a sense of fulfillment on the job, as well as the reasons they might consider leaving. Tapping into this knowledge has helped Atlas Butler’s retention rate increase to 30% last year, significantly above the industry average of 19%. During this time, we have learned three large lessons.
Employee retention starts during the interview
Too often companies don’t focus on retention until it’s too late. At Atlas Butler, we recognize that we need our plumbers as much, if not more, than they need us. That’s why we focus on setting employees up for success in the hiring process. Drilling down on what’s important during the interview helps us determine a mutually good fit between the company and the candidate up front.
Our approach to hiring is to look at the whole person. Skills can be taught through on-the-job training, which we provide. However, character, integrity and work ethic are qualities that lead to success in our business, and we can’t teach those, so we look for high-quality candidates who demonstrate these characteristics on their own.
In addition, we find that those who succeed with the company align with our values: Focusing on safety, delivering happiness through service, doing the right thing, being passionate and having fun. Our values combined with our family-like culture support an atmosphere of accountability to the customer and the team.
Acknowledging a job well done is important. Not just through a paycheck but on a personal level. This could be as simple as receiving a personal text from a leadership team member to acknowledge a job well done. Or, it could be taking time to celebrate a new addition to their family or to mourn the loss of a loved one with them. Treating your employees like family means that you stick with them — in good times and through the rough patches.
Meet employees where they are and understand what they want
Just like family members may check in with each other, Atlas Butler takes the same approach by asking employees what they value in their work, their career growth and goals, and how they feel about their role within the company.
From formal and informal conversations, we know that employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want benefits, time off, flexibility, a 401k and other perks. In addition to providing that and more, company culture is key to retaining employees, and that comes from the top down.
That’s where our family-owned values come into play. We communicate with our employees in a way that shows them how important they are to the business. When an employee ultimately does decide to leave, we dig into the why behind the transition. Often the why is fixable and if employees do leave, some even decide to come back, as we strive to make sure they left on a positive note.
One recent employee returned to the company after less than a month at a new job, and noted that “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” He said that he wished he had taken the time to realize what he had at this job before it was gone, mainly a leadership that cares about him as a person. Like family, Atlas Butler welcomed him back with open arms.
Show appreciation for hard work and the value they bring to the business
Often when employees start searching for another role, they feel replaceable and/or unappreciated. But in a service business such as plumbing, we all know how critical each employee is.
Communicating value to employees consistently and authentically goes a long way. Employee appreciation events, gifts sent to employees’ homes, free tickets to sporting events, or $500 to every employee to purchase something they’ve always wanted — these are just some ways we show how much we value each person within the company.
Acknowledging a job well done is important. Not just through a paycheck but on a personal level. This could be as simple as receiving a personal text from a leadership team member to acknowledge a job well done. Or, it could be taking time to celebrate a new addition to their family or to mourn the loss of a loved one with them. Treating your employees like family means that you stick with them — in good times and through the rough patches. These simple but valuable touchpoints show that you care about their well-being at work and at home.
The bottom line: Employees are your most valuable resource. The success or failure of your company depends on them. Take the time to remember that and take steps to ensure their success and fulfillment in the job every day.
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