Jon Witschy | April 1st, 2022
Jon Witschy, Spindle's Sales Manager with over 20 years of industry experience, originally wrote an article that appeared as part of the American Laundry News Panel of Experts, Volume 48, Issue 4, April 2022 copyright American Trade Magazines LLC. In it, he highlighted strategies he’s seen in the field that have helped customers find and retain employees in the current labor market.
This is a question every employer is facing. It’s obvious that recent government programs have affected our labor pool, but – regardless – our industry has always fought against other job opportunities for potential and current employees. If it is possible to raise wages, this could be the “silver bullet”, in itself; otherwise, following are some strategies that might help.
Regarding finding employees, one of the best ways that my customers have recommended is internal referral programs: provide a benefit to your employees for bringing family & friends on board. Your employees can best describe their work environment and can probably identify people who will be able to keep up with the pace of working in a laundry, which should increase your success rate with new employees. An interesting point that I recently read about internal referral programs is the suggestion to increase the compensation for delivering a successful hire. Recruiters can receive up to 40% or more for supplying executive candidates. An increase from a few hundred dollars to a larger percentage of the wage for a production position could improve the quality of referrals, and it might encourage employees to help you work on retention – the referrer won’t want to lose the referee and miss out on their payday. Of course, certain terms must be met for the referral bonus (e.g., new hires must meet attendance requirements, remain employed for a minimum period, achieve productivity targets, etc.). The time spent on developing a program and training staff could have a significant return on investment.
To retain employees, one of the best practices that we recommend to our customers is to provide productivity incentives: do a good job, get a bonus, enjoy your work & improve your life, keep doing a good job; it’s a self-sustaining cycle. Health benefits and other perks are often highlighted as a difference between other jobs and our laundry positions, but the dollars, themselves, often speak louder. Just as with the referrals above, there must be minimum requirements to get a bonus: an employee must be on time and have good attendance; if not (regardless of how well they work when they are on the job), an incentive bonus won’t pay out. It goes without saying that a good work environment is key for all of this to be successful and to keep people happy and coming back to the job each day.
Coming full circle, incentive plans might also help in recruiting. A customer recently mentioned to me that they changed their tactic from, “Earn $X per hour,” to, “Earn up to $X+ per hour,” after seeing a similar sign in a convenience store window. He spoke with the clerk, who explained that he could be happy with the base pay, or he could agree to work nights &, weekends or do other “grunt work” to get the higher wage. An incentive and/or night, weekend, and tougher jobs should be presented as options for candidates to make more money.
I wish you luck in the battle for employees. I’m sure we all see “Help Wanted” signs everywhere we go, these days, so we know that competition is out there. Creating the right plan to recruit & retain staff will put you in position to bring in candidates and to run as profitably as you can.