Recruiting and Retaining Employees

Create a Great Employee Experience

Recruiting and retaining good employees is challenging and will likely become more difficult as the workforce ages and is replaced by younger employees with different outlooks on work. This new outlook is often referred to as “employee experience”.
For years businesses have been focusing on creating the right customer experience and now need to spend an equal amount of time developing the employee experience. Simply put, this means focusing on the employee touchpoints at work, and how those affect the employee’s thinking and attitudes and lead them to behave in specific ways. Many organizations are now putting the employee first with a belief that employees are crucial in delivering the customer experiences that will make their businesses successful.

Consider supporting leadership development and/or industry training.

Employees are now doing research on what companies offer and are checking sites like Glassdoor for reviews on potential employers. Check to see whether any of your current or former employees have commented on their experience working at your company.
Top job boards in BC include Indeed and go2HR for the hospitality industry. When posting jobs make sure that you differentiate yourself from other employers and highlight what you are doing to create a great employee experience. Another potential source for new employees is through employee referrals. Many companies offer a referral bonus if an employee refers someone who is hired, and typically structure this incentive such that there is an up-front payment and then a payment once the person passes probation or some defined time on the job.
Below are a few employee touchpoints where you can create a great employee experience.

Technology – More and more employees want technology in the workplace. They live their lives through their smartphones and apps and expect workplaces to leverage technology to be more effective. They are attracted to companies that use technology for scheduling and payroll, have an effective and current point-of-sale system, supply Wi-Fi at work for personal use, and use technology to enhance communications and support professional growth. There are multiple apps for business use and many are inexpensive. When in doubt about what technology is out there, simply ask your technologically savvy employees.

Regular & Open Communication – Employees thrive on the opportunity to not just work for the business, but also contribute to its success. Front-line workers are intimately aware of the intricacies of the business and want to have a voice in improvements that remove barriers to their ability to deliver on customer needs. This requires two-way communication and getting employees’ input on issues and decisions. A great manager, who really connects with staff, can do this through regular dialogue. However, operating extended hours, with high volume, it can be hard to find the opportunity to do this. There are a growing number of apps that allow management and employees to share information and collaborate as well as provide quick survey feedback on important issues, even when they are working different shifts.

Professional Growth – There are great online learning platforms to build specific product knowledge. Cicerone (beer) and WSET (wine & spirits) are the most popular designations to achieve in the industry and have the technological platforms that employees love. Encouraging employees to complete this training during quiet work periods builds additional knowledge and allows your employees to feel secure and confident in providing beer, wine, and spirit recommendations to customers. For those who show management potential, consider supporting leadership development and/or industry training.

Sense of Community – Today’s employees want to be part of a bigger community and have a sense of belonging. Encouraging team activities both at work and after work supports this. Employees are highly creative at coming up with ideas that will resonate in their workplace, and having a small committee with some management representation can be very effective at developing initiatives to increase team spirit. Examples include having small competitions at work associated with sporting events (eg. Stanley Cup Playoffs), seasonal events (eg. Canada Day), or themes (eg. Chili Competition). For even deeper meaning and demonstration of both teamwork and community, encourage and financially support teams participating in after work charitable causes, whether it is a blood donor drive, volunteering at a local food bank, or participating in a major organized charitable event. If your business has a cause that is important to you, then share with your employees why it is important and watch them rally around it as well. Even better, if you are flexible on what cause to support, ask your employees what event(s) they would like to support.
Recognition – Recognition can take many forms and should include both team and individual as well as public and private. It’s always important to get together and celebrate teamwork—perhaps you arrange a night of wine and spirit tasting. Approach your suppliers to get their assistance in planning the event. Your employees get out for a night of fun and team building.

It’s always important to get together and celebrate teamwork.

Individual recognition should be frequent and appropriate to the person. Employees universally want to be acknowledged for doing a good job. They want this feedback to be timely and frequent and to very specifically identify what it was that they did and what difference that it made (saying “Thank You” is not enough). Some employees love being recognized in front of their peers and others prefer confidential and private recognition—if you don’t know simply ask them. A small gift is always appreciated but not necessary—what employees are mostly looking for is the acknowledgement that you see the work that they are doing and understand the impact it is having and that you are grateful.

Making your workplace unique and attractive, and engaging employees in making this happen, will make recruitment easier, and will improve employee retention and your business results. A great employee experience leads to a great customer experience.

Heather Johnson is a Senior Consultant with HR West Consulting. A former Senior Vice President of People & Culture, she works with clients in a wide range of industries and helps them find practical solutions tailored to their business.