Don’t Scurry, Be Happy: Don’t Just Keep Your People, Keep Them Happy

By Paul Bieber

There are roughly 5 million open jobs in the U.S. In our industry, a quality glass person can get a job in a minute. So how do you hire and retain your team?

According to many economists, it takes about six months to acclimate a person to be productive in a new job coming from an entry level or limited experience work history. Plus, you probably spent money and, more importantly, time—on help wanted advertising and interviewing. This will cost you anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 per hire. If you’re growing, this is a fine investment, but it’s an absolute waste of time and money when you’re replacing an employee who accepted a new job. You want an environment where people want to work with you, and care about your company as if it is theirs. How do you do this?

Take Care of Your Team

The first step is to treat your people like they are co-owners. How? Every Monday morning, come in a half-hour early and meet with your key staff, including office, installation or manufacturing personnel. This should be no more than eight or ten people. Confirm plans for this week and try to spot problems before they become serious.

Share news about the company plans, new equipment to be ordered and new
employees coming on board. You can also discuss problems so that your team knows you care about situations and are workingto make corrections.

Get the advice of your team. Together, they know more than you. Think of it this way, if they’re good enough to work for you, then you want them to act as co-owners. Let the leaders pass the knowledge down to their workers so that the whole company is aware of what’s coming. If you’re expanding and plan to advertise for more workers and a present employee sees your ad, they may work in fear of their job until they know the score. Avoid this by being up front with your team. Ask them to suggest new employees. They know who’s a good worker and may be looking for a new job. Interview all of their suggestions, and if you do hire one, give the recommending employee $500—that’s a heck of a lot cheaper than going through an agency.

Good Advice

Buying a new truck? Ask your present drivers what they prefer. A new computer or programming for the office? Ask advice from your team. You will come out ahead.

The reason most new employees don’t last at a job is they are left alone and don’t feel part of the team. It takes a couple of weeks to overcome this for most folks. Assign every new employee a buddy to work alongside for tips and training, and with whom they can have lunch. You should visit the new hire twice a week for the first couple of weeks at his or her workstation. Answer their questions about anything and they’ll soon see the company culture and will want to continue working with you.

When an employee feels sick at work, have him or her go home. It’s better to send someone home than have them work and make mistakes because of a sneeze or such. Plus they could pass that illness on to others.

In the fall, offer flu shots to all employees and their families. If a child is home with the flu a parent needs to stay home, too, and that takes someone away from work. Arrange an annual family health day at a local walk-in clinic where families can get the vaccinations they need at your expense. Be there that day, greeting each family. Build a culture where you care about your team and you will work with a great team.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com

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