Tactics to retain employees

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We’re in an increasingly tight labor market. Full employment is basically good for our industry. Getting good talent, however, is now a very competitive situation. Even more, keeping the top talent from being enticed away is a serious challenge, no matter which side of the dealership – techs or sales persons – we’re discussing.

There’s no doubt that it’s no longer just about the money. More businesses are reporting they’re turning to other incentives to attract and keep good employees. Here, then, are four ideas worth consideration for dealers desiring to do all they can to ensure their talent isn’t hustled away by some competitor.

1. A paid time benefit for employees to do volunteer work in the community. This benefit is growing in popularity. While it might involve working with any good church, charitable or community organization, it could also be something allied to boating, such as helping underprivileged kids learn to fish or participating in a charity special event that may have a water context. Allowing employees a day or two of paid time off per year to do volunteer work could be an impact benefit. It would also declare that the dealership has a “give-back” attitude toward its employees and the community.

2. How about paid parental leave? It has made news as a pursuit of President Trump’s daughter, and it could be a meaningful benefit for employees. Note, the operative word here is “paid.” Maternity and paternity leave, including for adoption, normally is granted under the Family Medical Leave Act.

It requires employers to give employees leave of up to 12 weeks if they have completed one year or more of service. But there’s no requirement that it be paid leave. To declare that a dealership believes in the importance of family life for its employees and putting money behind that claim could be a winning strategy.

3) Anniversary rewards could be a great incentive for employees to stay long term. Recognizing their commitment to the dealership by noting tenure in some meaningful way can be an employee benefit. But make it more than a staff pizza lunch--although that may be fine for a 1- or 2-year anniversary.

More significant rewards could really be an incentive to stay. For a five-year anniversary, how about providing an all-expense weekend at a popular area resort. A ten-year anniversary earns a first-class travel package with airfare, hotel and spending cash at some place of the employee’s choosing. Remember, we’re talking about incentivizing employees to stay long term and any employee who has been loyal for a decade should be well recognized.

4) Then, of course, there is the good old bonus. Everybody likes a bonus! In order to have an impact, employees need to clearly know what it takes to earn a specified bonus or bonuses. They’re based on performance, of course, but there must be guidelines and goals that employees understand and can shoot for to be effective in keeping staff.

Perhaps it’s a system in which tech employees are recognized for providing outstanding customer service, as reported by the customer(s). Special sales bonuses are not uncommon for the sales team and can be varied based on products sold or dollars grossed. There could also be a bonus plan for the administrative team members based on problems solved and other employee and customer problems handled.

Finally, there are unlimited employee vacations. Hold on a second! In its annual employee benefits trend survey, MetLife found that more people are interested in having an unlimited vacation policy than any other “perk.” Specifically, it would be a policy with implicit flexibility for taking their time off.

According to the study in which 2,675 responded, 72 percent said they’d value an unlimited vacation company policy. In the marine business, with its seasonal nature, having an unlimited vacation benefit might seem to be a tall order. Yet many such surveys today are revealing that benefits like parental leave and flexibility in time off are top contributors to job satisfaction. That said, the unlimited vacation policy appears to have risen up over all the others. And, satisfied employees stay. 

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