So we asked ourselves THE question that every manager worth their salt should also ponder—if you weren’t a manager or entrepreneur, would you want to work for your company?
Simple, but effective.
Did you answer no? This blog post is for you!
Did you answer yes? This post is also for you.
To get a few insights on the topic, we spoke with Adam Tétrault, Partner and VP of Sales at Agendrix. As this question regularly fuels discussions of our management team, we wanted to share our process and what drives us to constantly improve our internal practices.
Why do we ask this question?
As entrepreneurs, we really care about our businesses: we want to be successful, serve our customers well, and build a reputation that will keep us in business over the long haul. Implicitly, we know that making pro-employee decisions will have a positive impact on the success of our business, but personally, this is not my main motivation.
Work takes such a big place in our lives. It’s important to evolve in an environment where you are happy to go to work rather than a place where you feel miserable. So, my motivation is human above anything else and focuses on the most important resource for our operations: the staff.
At Agendrix, the members of the management team are not just the owners of the company. We are 100% involved in day-to-day operations. It is therefore easy for us to put ourselves in the shoes of employees, since we ourselves are staff.
We are entitled to the same working conditions as the rest of the team, no special treatment or pedestals for managers. If it's good for us, it's good for everyone.
How can work conditions boost employee retention?
The goal is to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and objectively reflect on your overall offer. This includes:
- Scheduling flexibility
- Managers’ openness to time-off requests
- Dress code
- Advancement opportunities
- Sense of belonging
- Employee turnover
Simply put, everything that falls under the umbrella of your working conditions.
I even encourage you to take the time to note down whatever comes up for you, whether you see it as positive, showing room for improvement in any way, or more problematic. When you read it all over, do you feel like working at your organization?
This is an exercise we do regularly at Agendrix. We go back over what we offer, appraise it, and shake up the status quo.
We also regularly survey our employees to get their feedback and opinions on work-related matters. This has the further advantage of helping us see things from another perspective.
Better employee retention in 5 steps
Whether they concerned me or people close to me, I could tell you about several unacceptable or even ludicrous work situations that I’ve encountered. Sometimes the managers were unwitting, other times they were aware of the problem—but in all cases, these situations hurt employee well-being and employee retention.
1. Don’t treat your employees like numbers
Unfortunately, old-fashioned companies still exist in 2023. Chances are, if you treat your employees like numbers, they’ll treat their jobs like something disposable, and they’ll be gone before very long.
I previously worked in a company where the workload was very variable according to the seasons. Rule of thumb was that we had to bank our overtime hours during the high season, and then use them as vacation during the summer, in the low season.
Turns out I had to quit my job before the summer and I had banked several hours. When I left, my employer refused to pay the many overtime hours I had worked. Yet, it was only common sense, and what the law required!
Why not make the effort to end an employment relationship well? You never know, the employee could come back in another role later, with a different background that would be useful to the company. They can also speak well of us and refer us good candidates.
💯 Keep your commitments. What an unpleasant experience as an employee to have to fight to simply receive what is owed to us, such as compensation for the hours worked or our vacation. If you don't know the labor standards or have doubts, seek out more information rather than inventing rules. It's free and you will avoid negative situations that everyone could do without.
2. Share your company’s vision
Creating a sense of belonging isn’t rocket science. Involve people, and they will readily pursue your goals with you. Share your company’s plans with your employees—tell them about your ambitions for the coming month, quarter and entire year!
Explain your teams’ different roles, their individual goals, and how everything is moving along in the right direction, all together. This is true leadership in action, rallying everyone at your organization around a common goal that everyone can contribute to.
💯 Make your organization’s goals visible. When they understand and feel that they are contributing to long-term ambitions, your employees will be more driven than ever. And engaged employees mean better retention.
3. Flatten team hierarchy
Complex hierarchy with too many levels hinders companies’ agility as well as employee engagement. If your employees rarely or never interact with management, odds are they are far removed from the company vision and goals. Make management more accessible and available—this will motivate your staff.
💯 Build relationships between your employees and management. Why not do team-building activities a few times a year? No need to break the bank. Something simple like a potluck or board game night will do. Find an activity that’s right for your team’s size and preferences. This will help create ties between your team members.
4. Bring people with a similar mindset together
It’s always more enjoyable to work with people you get along with. When hiring, make sure that recruits will have the right mindset to fit with the team.
💯 Beyond skills, make personality a key focus. Hire people who have chemistry with existing employees. Who knows, you might help create friendships that will go beyond work. And as we mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to create opportunities to strengthen bonds between your team members!
5. Do you require a uniform? Do it with class
In addition to a dress code, some companies or professions require a work uniform. While you may have to comply with health and safety standards (and perhaps some guidelines required by your parent company if you’re a franchisee), avoid an overly strict dress code. Ultimately, the clothing they wear has no impact on your team’s skills and professionalism.
💯 Be flexible and stay away from drab uniforms. For example, for a job that requires wearing a hair net, consider providing employees with a nice cap to hide the net. Make sure it’s a good fit for everyone. Ask for the team's opinion so that it suits the greatest number: the goal is that your employees are proud to wear their uniform, or at least not be embarrassed by it.
Why not opt for a uniform that your employees will want to wear, and clients will be jealous of? At Agendrix, we have several items of clothing that are the envy of our employees’ friends and family.
Can employee retention be improved without spending a fortune?
What do employees look for in a job? This can vary significantly, and there’s no magic recipe that works for everyone. You need to be able to adapt and respond to your team’s specific needs.
Working conditions go beyond the salary
Employees’ salary is a positive and important factor, but it’s no longer all that matters. Find people who share your vision and have values similar to those of your company.
1. For better retention, focus on successful onboarding
It all starts the moment an employee arrives on the job. A good onboarding and integration process can increase retention rates by up to 40%. So, it’s worth investing the time and effort to make this key step a success when hiring new employees.
During the onboarding process, make sure to roll out the red carpet and properly welcome employees. Equip them, train them and, most importantly, plan the steps of their arrival. This will make them feel welcome and give them a good first impression of their new employer and colleagues.
Why not offer a welcome pack with some clothes featuring your organization’s logo, along with tools to ease their tasks?
2. Give opportunities for peer-to-peer recognition
Regardless of your employees’ experience level, they all appreciate being recognized for their work. Knowing that their manager appreciates the work they do is very motivating for your team. Take things up a notch and build a culture of recognition across the company. Encourage your employees to recognize their co-workers’ wins.
3. Offer flexibility and work-life balance
Your employees have a life outside of work. Whether they have a young ones to take care of, are in school, or simply prefer to work part-time, they have availability and leave constraints to be respected. Having a manager who has them work at a time when they’re unavailable can be very irritating.
Respect your employees’ time-off requests and personal constraints as much as possible, and offer them flexibility. They will be extremely grateful to you.
4. Hire friends
If several of your employees are in school, consider hiring people who already know each other. This will benefit you too—if they’re more likely to enjoy their work, this will surely be reflected in their motivation and productivity. And your absenteeism rate will likely plummet.
This option is particularly attractive for retail, restaurant, hospitality and seasonal jobs. Closing shifts and busy times will be more pleasant for the team, and therefore, for your customers.
5. Get your hands dirty
At the end of the day, whether you’re a manager or a business owner, remember that you are also part of the team. You are as responsible (if not more so) for its success as your employees are. If you see a busy period approaching, or an employee hasn’t shown up to work, or any other scenario arises where you can help out, definitely do so.
This will build your credibility and cement the relationship of trust between you and your team.
6. Take an interest in your employees
It’s all too easy for you as an entrepreneur or manager to become disconnected from the day-to-day operations of your business, especially when you find yourself buried in administrative tasks. That being said, there’s nothing to stop you from taking an interest in your team! Do you know your employees’ names? Do you speak with them regularly? Are you able to see what’s happening on the floor and in front of customers?
You have much to gain by taking time each week to develop your relationship with your team. What’s more, it can improve operations by leading you to make positive changes, give employees greater responsibility, and better assign tasks.
Why not also involve them in your initiatives? For example, a marketing campaign for a special project such as a summer beer promotion or a limited-time product offering? They will be much more engaged and fired up knowing that they are playing a role in the company’s decisions and success!
Employee retention for a small business, where to begin?
While big companies have certain monetary advantages, as a small business you have other advantages that multinationals do not necessarily enjoy. Leverage your strengths.
It’s much easier to test and implement job satisfaction initiatives at an SME. Start small and take it one step at a time, at your own pace. Above all, don’t be afraid to give yourself the means to match your ambitions. Put in the required time, make some tests and adapt.
To sum up, build human relationships, talk to people, and get to know your team. This won’t cost you a penny—it’s an easy fix with so many benefits.
In conclusion, we ask again: if you weren’t a manager, would you work for your company?