Dear Working Wise:
I manage an independent quick-service restaurant. Like most small business people, I wrestle with motivating and retaining good staff. Do you have any suggestions? Signed, Hungry for good people
You do not get a second chance to make a first good impression. Most new employees know this, but some employers are missing that perfect opportunity to train, motivate and retain their staff.
Providing your new staff with a comprehensive orientation will ensure they feel welcome and understand your business, products, services, values, policies and procedures. Your new people will be more likely to stay if they understand and like your business and workplace culture.
A good orientation will start your new people off right—giving them confidence in themselves and their employer. You can build on this strong foundation as your staff learn more about the business and how they can contribute.
Staff orientations should include a tour of their worksite, introductions to co-workers, and time for the new employee to ask questions and clarify expectations. You should ensure that all relevant staff (co-workers, supervisors, etc.) know when the new person is starting and that his/her workspace is prepared.
Be sure to let your new people know that you promote fair treatment and resolution of conflict. Let them know from the beginning that you have workplace policies regarding ethical practices and harassment.
Orientations can take as little as a few hours to as much as a few days. There can be a lot to cover—so be sure you’ve scheduled enough time.
Check your current staff orientation process against the following checklists:
The organization—history, products, services, customers, mission, values, organizational policies and structure, expectations of staff, worksite tour, names of key people, introductions to key people, and questions.
Employment information—pay schedule, pay scale and raise increments, benefits/bonuses, vacation pay and holidays, sick leave and absentee policy, employee training and promotion policy, employee development opportunities, disciplinary policy, and questions.
Job information—job location, job description, tasks, probationary period, introduction to the work unit, safety orientation, operating procedures, work standards, tools and equipment training/orientation, hours of work, scheduled breaks, who to ask for help, and questions.
Integration—help your new employee feel like they belong. Fostering positive work relationships and a sense of belonging are great ways of retaining workers. Employees who feel a strong social and emotional connection to the workplace are less likely to want to leave.
You can encourage stronger links among your employees by:
· Introducing workers to the whole operation, not just their work unit;
· Explaining how the work units serve and support each other;
· Setting up a mentoring or buddy system;
· Having regular staff meetings with time for employees to talk;
· Holding staff social events;
· Supporting employee clubs or recreational teams and community volunteerism;
· Cross-training or creating cross-functional teams;
· Providing new hires with information about community activities and resources; and
· Encouraging and supporting staff participation in community events.
I’ve focused mostly on the importance of a solid employee orientation. If you would like some other ideas on how to reduce your staff turnover, check out the Beyond Pay and Benefits booklet on the Alberta Learning Information Services http://alis.alberta.ca.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.