Labor shortage requires new strategies for frontline employee retention

labor shortage

How franchises can keep employees engaged so turnover reduces and client retention increases

At the end of April, U.S. employers had 9.3 million job openings available, the highest number recorded since the government started collecting the data in 2000. In pre-pandemic times, the hourly workforce was relatively inexpensive to maintain because the pool of people willing to work hourly jobs was vast, making turnover easier to manage. Now, employers are unable to fill gaps in their workforce because the pool has shrunk dramatically.

In order to stay afloat in a candidate’s market and gain quality talent, companies with large hourly workforces, like franchises, must figure out how to keep the people they have engaged, so turnover reduces and client retention increases. Employee turnover costs the U.S. economy a staggering $160 billion per year and in many cases, it can cost up to two times an employee’s annual salary to lose him or her and complete the hiring process again. 

Here are a few workplace management strategies that franchisees can integrate into their operations to help boost employee retention amid the labor shortage.

Create a mode for effective communication. 

One study showed that 85% of employees consider effective communication an “employee benefit” and even at a lower-than-ideal pay, 69% of employees would be less likely to quit if their company was more effective at communicating. Knowing this, adjusting or replacing ineffective internal communication with efficient workplace communication is critical to gaining a competitive advantage within the job market and retaining quality talent. One key way to support two-way communication is to utilize one primary communication source instead of multiple – such as text, email, phone calls and paper trails. By providing an easy-to-use, one-stop platform, retailers can eliminate confusion and operational errors that stem from juggling too many touchpoints.

Establishing relationships across all levels of employees and utilizing transparency from the start will help owners and management better understand what drives their workforce and in turn, help retain talent. 

By establishing a mode for effective workplace communication, management is able to better understand what is important to their employees. It is crucial to remember that hourly employees are all unique and have different desires and needs that drive their work ethic. Establishing relationships across all levels of employees and utilizing transparency from the start will help owners and management better understand what drives their workforce and in turn, help retain talent. 

Value frontline employees.

The hourly workforce can often be neglected and overlooked when discussing job satisfaction and retention. However, in post-pandemic times, employers cannot afford to dismiss the needs of hourly employees, especially since they make up the majority of today’s workforce. Studies show that nearly 65% of employees at all levels consider “respectful treatment of all employees” as very important, yet only 38% of employees say they are currently satisfied with the level of respect in their workplaces. With that said, employee retention starts with making sure your employees feel supported, respected and valued in their role. It’s important to address the issues frontline workers face to ensure they are satisfied in their jobs – not only for their prosperity, but for the success of the company.

Create a positive workplace culture.

Company culture plays a critical role in attracting and retaining talent, as 46% of job seekers cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply to a company. Clear, consistent and aligned workplace culture inspires high commitment from employees. As a result, the overall health of the business improves and franchises are able to better connect with their customers. A positive workplace culture doesn’t happen overnight, but any company, with any budget is capable of building the foundation. That groundwork starts with leadership taking the time to invest in the happiness of their workforce by providing meaning, establishing goals and encouraging positivity. 

Evaluate flexibility and benefits.

In today’s day and age, workplace flexibility is getting increasingly more popular and important to employees of all levels. Flexibility and benefits for hourly employees can include anything from flexible scheduling and overtime opportunities to professional training and development programs. When building employee schedules, factor in staff preferences like number of shifts per week and time of day, before putting them into the spreadsheet. Having protocol for scheduling and processing employee time off requests will show your staff that they are respected and treated as people before employees. People work harder when they feel valued, so being proactive in showing your appreciation for their hard work goes a long way.

In today’s changing business world, it’s necessary for industries with large hourly workforces to recognize the value of their main asset – their employees. Placing value on your employees will amplify your workforce and help you build a sustainable competitive advantage. Moving forward, it’s essential that companies attract, hire and keep the best employees longer.

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Matt Goebel is a multi-unit franchisee and the founder and CEO of Woven, an all-in-one workplace management tool for multi-unit franchising founded to keep franchise operators focused on growing their businesses. Today, the Woven platform delivers accountability, consistency, and productivity to all of its customers.
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