Use that headline in your employment ad the next time you need to hire someone! It certainly is more descriptive of the type of person you should want to work with. Workforce camaraderie - how important is it? By my estimation, it's priceless. The solidarity of your staff plays a major role in your company's productivity, profitability and personnel retention rates.
You already know skilled employees are hard to come by. If it is any consolation, you are not alone. Finding and retaining good people is a universal challenge in the roofing industry. Unfortunately, the labor pool has dried up to the point where contractors tell me they are thankful just to hire a person with a valid driver's license.
Why is it that a few companies can routinely attract talented personnel and maintain low turnover rates? How can this be when many other companies suffer from sporadic "labor pains" or, worse yet, consistently have a heck of a time getting employees? So, what's the secret? Sorry, but there are no quick fixes or simple solutions to this ongoing struggle. And what works for one company may not for another.
However, when you talk to fortunate contractors blessed with good people, it becomes apparent that they all have one thing in common: They created a work environment that fosters a positive mindset among the employees. Their employees are treated well, enjoy a strong sense of camaraderie, and perceive the company almost as if it were a family.
Inspiring LoyaltySetting aside the countless other factors that have a bearing on the matter, such as competitive pay, fringe benefits, making correct hiring decisions, job training, etc., the more things you do to create an appealing workplace that inspires employee loyalty, the better your chances of attracting and retaining high-caliber personnel.
For instance, invite and involve the employees and their families to participate in company-sponsored events or activities (such as a company softball team, boat, race car, or golf outings, skiing, fishing or hunting trips, picnics, etc.). Giving gifts for the holidays and providing the Thanksgiving turkey helps create a positive family atmosphere.
Also, don't underestimate the value of small perks. Things like flexible work schedules, uniforms or a clothing allowance, free coffee, a pizza party, or public recognition carry more weight with people than you may think. Of course, all of these team-building ideas must be balanced against company performance and profitability. To safeguard against an employee "entitlement mentality," some events can be pegged to fiscal results (i.e., events could be dependent upon achievement of pre-established sales, volume or profit goals).
As the business owner, the task of figuring out what works best for your company falls squarely on your shoulders. Just as it takes hard work to put on a roof, maintaining a productive workforce requires a constant effort. When you install a shingle roof, you must plan the job, measure it, set it up, lay it out, start applying it, check your courses, adjust if necessary or keep rolling until the job is done. Apply the same principles to your personnel issues. Put a system into place that requires you to routinely evaluate such matters. Establish a game plan and set goals to achieve, then monitor the results and fine-tune as you go.
For starters, I'd suggest you take a step back and objectively assess the company culture. Look for root causes of turnover, examine the work environment, and assess employee morale. Are a few negative people pulling your operation down? These toxic people are like a cancer and should be cut out before they kill the team (yes, even if they are high producers!). Ditto for any slackers who drag production down. Look at those who are in leadership positions, and also stare in the mirror. Be sure you and your leaders are setting the right tone, reinforcing positive behavior/results, and not sending mixed signals. Nobody likes to work for a tyrant or in helter-skelter surroundings where you never know whether you'll have a good or bad day.
Finding the TruthRoofing is no easy job, but it is more satisfying if you enjoy the people you work with. The job becomes more rewarding if you are treated well, recognized as a valuable person and compensated in accordance with your level of contribution and skills. Get input from your staff members and listen to them with an open mind. Be prepared to hear the brutal truth. Remember that perception is reality, so you need to address it as such.
Put yourself in the employees' shoes and try to answer these questions: Why should I want to work for this company or why should I stay? Is there a future here? Are there any advancement opportunities? Can I support myself and my family? Am I treated fairly? If you are running subs, you have little direct control over them; however, subcontractors also judge working for your company in comparison to others. Examine how they're treated, how quickly they get paid, and what their expectations are, as well as yours.
Effectively dealing with these types of workforce issues can inflate your overhead, so your profit margins must be sufficient to tackle them. Easier said than done, since you're competing against the operations that run on a shoestring, or the dudes who are paying their guys under the table or running uninsured. However, you must balance the extra cost of investing in your people against the expense of excessive turnover and poor morale. Is it better to have fewer crews that work together as a team than struggle to keep enough "warm bodies" in the field banging out work in an uncommitted, blasé manner?
If you're not already surrounded by a competent and dedicated staff, turn your attention to the human side of the ledger. Managing people is an integral yet often ignored "soft skill" that has a tremendous impact on company performance. Remember, if your people are not satisfied, it affects the entire enterprise including you, the office folks, the crews and - most importantly the customers.
You're in the driver's seat. If your "labor pains" are severe, examine the road you're on and steer the business in the direction you want it to go - not the other way around. Drive safely and treat your comrades well.