Companies invest every day in customer retention. They hope their customers will return and recommend their product/service to a friend or family member. What about employee retention?
- What would happen if property managers could spend less time recruiting new employees and more time developing better relationships with the ones they have?
- What if, instead of an e-mail telling your employee to select a 5 year award, a company executive wrote personal notes to thank the employee for their service?
- Would your employees recommend you to a friend?
When it comes to a product or service, the reason it exists is usually pretty clear. For example, if you were to recommend an item at the grocery store you know why it exists and you know that you like it enough to recommend it to others. Why a business exists and why employees should recommend it is not always clear—to the customer or the employee.
Does your employment ad look something like this?
Come work for our property management company. We exist to lease apartments, provide shelter for residents, and collect the owner’s money.
As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” If you want your employees to recommend you—give them good reasons to do so.
Know Why Your Company Exists
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do we exist?” While most companies know the “what” and the “how” of their business, few companies know “why” they do what they do. Great companies like Disney and Starbucks know why they exist.
- Walt Disney World- “Make People Happy!”
- Starbucks- “To Inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
These missions/visions represent an inside out customer experience philosophy. Their focus is not about how to deliver the best product and service but to dig deep, place themselves in the customer’s problem zone, and build their business around them.
Simon Sinek, author of the book “Start with Why” believes that at the end of the day people don’t buy what you do—they buy “why” you do it! He makes a great point. When your employees believe in the “why” they will do their best because they want to—not because they have to.
Here is a challenge for you. Pick up the phone tomorrow and randomly call five of your apartment communities. Ask this question to the first person who answers the telephone, “Why does our company exist?” You might be shocked at what they do and don’t know.
Sometimes it is the small things that have the biggest impact on employee retention—the kind words and attention that don’t cost us a dime. Making a daily effort to catch all employees in the act of delivering fantastic service to customers or simply doing their job well will improve their experience. So often we notice these things but are ‘too busy’ to thank employees and tell them how much we appreciate them. It’s important to tell others too. Our local Home Depot has a huge bell located at the exit with a sign that reads, “If you received excellent service from one of our employees please ring this bell.” Is this something you could implement at your community?
1. Make it Personal
Do you thank your employees at the end of each day for doing the job you hired them to do? Do you ask them, “Is there anything I can do that will improve your job experience?” At first, they might be shocked and look for the hidden camera. In a short amount of time, they will warm-up to the idea and amazing things will take place. Try it for a week – I dare you! – and watch the impact on their job performance and their experience.
2. Make it Easy to Give Feedback
Problems are just a part of doing business. Making it easy for your employees to give you positive and negative feedback is important and healthy for a company. Don’t wait for the annual employee survey—it’s usually too late by the time it comes around. Not to mention most employees are not 100% honest when it comes to documented employee surveys. To improve employee retention, periodically ask your employees these three questions:
- What do you want/need?
- How are we doing?
- How can we improve?
3. A Message of Service Every Day
Help your employees deliver on the message of “why” every day by using a reminder. I don’t mean the plaque that hangs on the wall in your office. We have so many ways to communicate electronically today but sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. As Leonardo daVinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Peer recognition can be very powerful tool and motivating for employees.
Consider placing a small box in each employee’s work area, along with a stack of sticky notes. Encourage all employees to “catch their peers doing something right”, write it on the note and slip it in their box. It can be something big or small. What’s important is that their effort reflects the reason your company exists. The encouraging words from their peers and their supervisors will reinforce the reason they chose you and would recommend you.
Do you know why your company exists? Would your employees recommend you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Vice President of Training and Development
Ellis Partners in Management Solutions