Money won’t keep your employees

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Over the last nine years, the Tampa Bay Times reports it has been studying top workplaces. During that time, Jeff Harrington, business editor, has observed that pay often ranks in the bottom of what workers value most about their employers. In a time when all boat dealers are concerned about a tech shortage, it’s a given that keeping existing employees is a priority and learning about some of Harrington’s observations could be very helpful.

Harrington writes - “This year: out of 24 attributes that employees in top workplaces use to judge their employer, pay and benefits take up two of the bottom three spots in the survey. What ranked the highest? Values, concerns, helpfulness, appreciation and confidence in an organization’s leader. All five of those attributes were above the 80 percent mark.”

In a separate ranking based on themes of what’s most important to employees, the clear No. 1 priority was having a connection (81 percent) to where they work. In speaking with employees who say they love to come to work, the same themes kept coming out. They feel like a family. Their opinions count. The have fun.

“As unemployment in Tampa Bay hovers at a more than a 10-year low and more job options are surfacing, it may get harder and harder for companies to keep their workers from roaming,” noted Harrington. “If you want to keep your workers from leaving for greener pastures, realize that it’s about more than the green.”

So, here are highlights of what some businesses rated as top employers do that has a positive impact on employees;

  • At many companies, it’s common to see the pyramid of priorities puts the customers at the top, the wellbeing of the organization a little below and employees blow that. At Grow Financial Credit Union, the pyramid is flipped, according to CEO Robert Fisher. Employees are at the top largely because motivated people make for a good customer experience.
  • Make praise important. Grow Financial has a program in which an employee can post a DROP (Doing Right on Purpose) to recognize any fellow employee for doing something especially well. Quarterly, Grow rewards the top employees with the most DROPS with some sort of experience or outing.
  • · Realtor Century 21 Beggins holds a quick “team huddle” every morning to kick-off the day. There’s also a whiteboard encouraging agents to: “Before you ASSUME, try this crazy method called ASKING.” It’s one of many slogans on a whiteboard in the training room. An easy variation of this idea could be writing a one-line weekly motivational message on a whiteboard for the dealership team.
  • Similarly, a whiteboard could be used to recognize every team member’s birthday and work anniversary, birth of a child, graduations, family achievements and so on.
  • “Leaders of top workplaces see the competitive advantage of creating a workplace culture where employees are highly engaged,” says Doug Claffey, CEO of Philadelphia-based Energage, a research firm that surveyed more than 2.5 million employees at more than 6000 in 2017, and the research partner with the Tampa Bay Times. “These companies make culture a strategic priority, day in and day out. In fact, culture is the only remaining sustainable competitive advantage. Great business strategies can be copied but culture cannot.”
  • According to Claffey, employee engagement translates into stronger retention, higher productivity and better performance. Leaders at top workplaces are intentional about defining and forging a unique culture that directly supports specific business goals.
  • So ask yourself urges Claffey: What defines your workplace? Are you happy with it? Is it helping or hindering your business objectives? The most tangible measure of culture is employee engagement – when a team of people share a company’s values and embrace its objectives.
  • At Ditek Corporation, founder and CEO Robert McIntyre makes daily morning rounds to check in with employees. He strives to make people feel valued, communicating that they play an integral role in the team effort as well as encouraging them to make a difference in the lives of others. To that end, employees are encouraged to participate in a community service project
  • One example comes from Progressive Insurance that encourages Tampa employees to participate in a program like one that provides refurbished vehicles to homeless veterans. Such efforts are true team builders.
  • Emphasizing a good work-life balance is important in building employee engagement. Holding occasional family outings; standing with each employee when he or she has a family issue; granting employees a floating holiday or two each year; and providing on-site amenities are just some examples of easy things that can build employee engagement.
  • Team building efforts can be rewarding. Activities like a team paintball challenge, or a bowling outing, or heading for a local escape room(s) which is currently a popular team building event are among some good ideas.
  • A Tampa law firm, Bulter Weihmuller, Katz & Craig LLP, has “cake day” each month to celebrate birthdays and/or new employees. Meanwhile, American Strategic Insurance in St. Petersburg surprises employees with free breakfasts and lunches throughout the year.

The bottom line is that dealership employees who genuinely feel appreciated, are fairly recognized and enjoy achieving in their workplace are the happiest employees. They will do the quality work and are most likely to be long-term team members. But it’s up to the dealership’s leadership to make that happen. 

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