Recruitment/Retention: Sharing Ideas at TRSA Talk

Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:06 am


An attendee at TRSA's Clean Show seminar on recruitment/retention issues talks about the challenges associated with reducing high turnover.

The need for enhanced, “two-way” communications, greater flexibility and closer scrutiny of job histories were cited among a range of practical suggestions outlined by Brenda Stauffer, director of human resources for Balford Linen Service, Tipton, PA, during a June 7 TRSA seminar on recruitment/retention issues.

The discussion took place off the floor of the Clean Show and was one of nine educational sessions that TRSA has sponsored during the June 5-8 show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Stauffer emphasized at the outset that she wanted the discussion to include significant feedback from the audience. She reserved time at the end of her talk to review audience concerns. She wasn’t disappointed. One attendee described the challenges he’s faced in keeping a third shift running in a small laundry operation. He said increasing pay and rotating staff members so that full-time and part-time employees get some weekends off has helped alleviate employee turnover. Nonetheless, absenteeism remains as a challenge and employers can’t always get the quality of staff that they’d like. “There’s pressure on me,” he said. “If people don’t come in, I’ve got to work (on the wash floor). Sometimes, a warm body is better than my body.’

Stauffer suggested several approaches that employees can take to deal with the problem of turnover. For example, they can work to encourage a sense of pride and teamwork in their businesses. Efforts to “create the right culture,” include making your company’s core values clear to the staff as well as to the outside world.

Another way to build loyalty and therefore reduce “job hopping” is to demonstrate flexibility that helps employees meet needs in their personal and family lives, she said. Depending on the demographics of a given workforce, employers may want to provide additional time off or schedule changes to accommodate working mothers, older employees and other groups. Cost-effective benefits also add value and can encourage retention, she said. Rather than expanding costly healthcare or other benefit programs, employers should consider providing extra pay or time off to show employees that the company cares about them and is responsive to their needs. One audience member noted that his plant offers “Wellness Wednesdays.” At these sessions, the company provides staff with a snack of fruit or other healthy food and shares information on health issues.

Understanding what employees want and expect in the workplace requires an effort by employers to do a better job of communicating with their staff members. That includes communicating the company’s values, as noted above. It also can feature the use of regular surveys of employees to get their input on working conditions and any concerns they may have. Stauffer acknowledged that getting employees to take surveys is difficult. Keeping them brief and emphasizing that the company is gathering information specifically to help employees may help.

Providing staff with additional feedback is another way that employers can learn what’s on the minds of their employees and give  an laundry operators an opportunity to address challenges that may come up. This is especially important with new hires, who may leave if they conclude that the job isn’t the right fit for them. Stauffer suggested “stay interviews” in which a new employee is pulled aside early on and questioned about how the job is going for them. Conducting such interviews may bring up issues that the company can move quickly to address. This might prevent the employee from leaving.

On the front end of the hiring process, more rigorous screening can help employers avoid making bad hiring decisions. When checking references, Stauffer emphasized the need to talk to actual supervisors of prospective hires, rather than human resources people who tend to avoid saying anything critical. “You really need to drill down and determine the job history,” she said. Another option is to consider hiring an outside firm that can help with profiling candidates that are more likely to stay than others. Stauffer said that getting this outside perspective from human resource experts can help employers zoom in on prospects. “If you’re not using profiling tests, please consider doing that because it can help you find candidates that you might have passed on,” she said.