Staffing and employee retention are emerging as a key issues in the home services industry — prompting many business owners to take a hard look at what their company offers employees besides a steady paycheck.
“Company culture” is a relatively new term to many industries, but as more and more evidence has shown, it is critically important to employees of every background — particularly those entering the workforce in the last five to ten years. Increasingly, bosses across all industries are hiring new employees who would rather forgo a promotion or raise for more workplace flexibility and engagement.
Happy employees also mean greater success for companies, too. According to Enterpreneur, the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that happier employees are up to 12 percent more productive than unhappy ones — and that the New Century Financial Corporation found that companies with happy employees outperformed competitors by 20 percent.
In an industry challenged by dwindling applicants and notorious for poaching, what is your company doing to keep your employees happy, engaged and valued?
Improving Your Company Culture: Five Key Steps
1. Establish (and Act on) Your Company’s Mission
Of course it’s your company’s goal to provide services and make money, but beyond that, what purpose does your brand serve? What role does it play in your community or your industry? Modern employees often respond to companies that have principles, values, a vision — and an approach the makes them feel like they’re making a difference with the work that they do.
Jodie Theis, the Director of Special Projects, IT and Training at Thorton & Grooms Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Farmington Hills, MI describes how nailing down a company’s mission also helped the company zero in on who its clientele should be. “We had two full days of just getting on paper all of our ideas of what we wanted the company to look like,” she says. “We decided to focus on residential home services. We weren’t set up well for commercial (technician wise, or supplies and equipment). Because of this we were able to put all of our focus on getting better at residential. We also made the decision to stick to our main service area and not be tempted to take appointments well beyond that because the profit margin didn’t make sense. We decided not to expand our footprint until it did make sense.”
2. Set Goals — and Celebrate When You Hit Them
Do you have a certain number in mind for this financial quarter? Or this year? Setting short- and long-term goals for your company can inspire extra effort and above-and-beyond service. And when you do meet those goals, share the spoils with the people that made it happen. Bonuses, team outings and office perks create an environment where employees know that their hard work matters — and yields tangible results.
Jodie from Thorton & Grooms also says that setting goals helped ensure the company met the benchmarks it needed to meet to maintain growth. “We said, where do we wanna be in 10 years in all these different areas, revenue generation, profit margin, number of people? How many vehicles do we want on the road?” she says. “And so, each quarter we would say, ’Okay, these are the most important things to tackle this quarter,’ and all those things lead you toward your end-of-the-year goals.”
3. Embrace Technology and Communication
It’s 2017 and there are countless new digital tools for team communication and workflow efficiency. Making sure that your employees are in touch with one another not only helps company response time but fosters team unity and interpersonal relationships. Slack’s chat program has transformed office culture in many industries, but there are many other apps, programs and digital solutions for improving teamwork and transparency.
4. Be Responsive to Problems
Making the management at your company approachable for employees is just one side of the coin — responding to feedback, concerns and complaints is the other. When employees come to you about workplace issues (either personal ones or system-wide), make your response a known priority. Send company emails or hold meetings about your plan for fixing the issue and communicate that your company cares about making things better.
5. Stay Flexible When You Can
In the home services industry, work is carefully scheduled and many companies know that promising 24-hour service is key to maintaining profits. However, employers are advised to stay sensitive to employee needs outside the office, too. Employees don’t want to feel as if their job or standing is in jeopardy when they use vacation time, sick time, or have to respond to an unexpected personal obligation. By demonstrating to your employees that your company respects their real lives, you can earn tremendous goodwill and lasting loyalty.
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