Tall Order: Recruiting/Retaining Millennials

Posted April 12, 2017 at 6:25 pm

A recent survey of TRSA member human resource managers underscored the challenges facing many linen, uniform and facility services companies in today’s robust economy.

In essence, prospective employees, particularly those for plant-based hourly jobs, are difficult to find and keep, according to the survey sponsored by TRSA’s Human Resources Committee. A total of 24 managers completed a series of questions about hiring trends. More than 90% identified millennials (people born from 1984 to 2004) as the group where they’re seeing the most turnover. “No one wants to work anymore,” one frustrated respondent commented.

On average, turnover rates among the responding companies has increased by 22% over last year. Fifty-four percent of respondents identified the strong economy as a factor in turnover. Other issues included hikes in the minimum wage (20%). Another 24% cited low wages for physically demanding labor, a poor work ethic among staff and undocumented temporary employees who leave due to issues associated with their immigration status.

However, respondents did note a few steps that employers are taking that could help alleviate this tug of war for employees.

For example, roughly a third of the companies surveyed said that they conduct job-satisfaction surveys to encourage greater employee engagement. Of those that conducted these surveys, employee participation averaged nearly 80%. Respondents commented that effective surveys must be brief and that staff should have the opportunity to complete the surveys during work time. Incentives, such as drawings for gift cards or other benefits for respondents also helps drive participation.  

Of equal importance is the fact that companies actually implement workable changes suggested by employees. Those that do so have a better shot at improving morale and reducing turnover than companies that don’t, some respondents said. Employees can see quickly whether or not management takes their suggestions seriously.

Responds cited other proactive programs aimed at reducing turnover, such as more extensive new-hire screening and training/coaching, plus follow-up interviews.

A few respondents cited teambuilding exercises and recognition programs as tactics for building a spirit of unity that can help reduce turnover. Others cited more flexible attendance policies and bonus programs based on length of tenure as moves that can help strengthen employee loyalty.  

Bottom line? Amid strong demand for labor, laundries must apply creativity and resourcefulness to their recruiting/retention efforts, especially for plant labor. Anyone with questions about the survey, or those who’d like to offer input to the Human Resources Committee, should contact staff liaison Mary Beth Porter at mporter@trsa.org or call 877.770.9274, ext. 100.