Back to Basics: Staff retention

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Recruiting new staff for your pub is costly and time consuming - and the simplest way of cutting back on recruitment is by making sure you retain the...

Recruiting new staff for your pub is costly and time consuming - and the simplest way of cutting back on recruitment is by making sure you retain the good people you already have. Yet the resources employers spend on recruitment is seldommirrored by what they invest inretention activity.

With labour turnover in hospitality running as high as 200 per cent in some cases, here's a 10-point plan which any licensee can use as a checklist towards good retention practice. And remember, it will benefit your bottom line.

1 Become the place to be

Every employer should be putting a plan into place for becoming a 'best place to work'. What would make valuable applicants work for you over a competitor? Would your current team recommend your pub as a good place to work?

People want to be associated with success. Constantly promote your pub internally and externally. Make sure people know about your successes and make every single person you employ an ambassador for your business.

2 Communicate

Today's employees need to have their say, be listened to and have their ideas and feedback respected. Whether you have five or 5,000 staff each one will have different expectations, wants, needs and desires.

Communication must be frequent and a two-way process. Talking with people is a must. Make sure one-to-ones happen whether it's 'coffee chats', reviews or appraisals.

This is about keeping people informed and it's also about consultation, getting your staff's point of view on how the pub is doing.

3 Recruit right

Make sure you have recruitment USPs (unique selling propositions). In the same way that a business has a marketing strategy and plan, it's important to have one for recruiting people. Make applying for a job as simple and straightforward as possible and recruit people with the right skills and attributes who will help to move the business forward.

And recruit staff quickly - if you don't snap up that talent, somebody else will.

4 Have vision and values

This doesn't need to be formal, but it's important everyone knows where the business is going. What's important about the way business is done? What are your guiding principles? It's inspiring to be on an exciting journey so make sure people know where you are heading.

Businesses need a common vision, values and goals so employees understand what needs to be done. Equally, you need to know what motivates and drives your people so you can get the best from everyone. The link between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and the bottom line is proven. The more satisfied everyone is the more profit you will make.

5 Be flexible

Think about work-life balance. Spend some time discovering what your people want and do your best to give it to them. People will trade excitement for flexibility or money for excitement - it's all about their own motivators and drivers.

6 Support your staff

According to a study by Harvard Business School, support is a key attribute sought by today's employees.

Create a supportive culture - you can't have loyalty unless you give it. Taking care of people in trouble sends out a strong message. This isn't about 'going soft' - it's a commercial business decision. You should give the same level of commitment to your staff as you expect to receive back.

7 Manage aspirations

Regularly review progress and find out what your employees' aspirations are - and if they fit the business, make sure they can happen.

Be aware that not all talent wants promotion - find out what they do want. Things change fast so review frequently. People have a right to know where they are going. They want to know when and how they will get there and what happens if something changes. An effective way to do this is through regular appraisals - but 85 per cent of employees in our industry don't have an appraisal.

8 Develop and train

Make development accessible, make it appropriate and make it timely. Development needs to benefit the individual so don't just put everyone through the same old courses.

Statutory requirements need to be met but you can keep costs down by using self-study, buddying, project work, assignments, secondments,

distance learning and e-learning. In the US they spend three per cent of the national labour budget on training. Here in the UK it's less than one per cent. Surely we can do better than that?

9 Get information

Find out why your people stay and why they leave. Where does talent come from and where does it go?

Keeping a close eye on competitors for talent is important, as is knowing who these people are and what they are offering. They might come from outside our sector, from retail, from estate agencies, for instance. All service industries want our people!

10 Be a leader

Talent flocks to a great leader. Engage the superstars through inspiring them. Managers at all levels hold the biggest responsibility of all - that of engaging the team. Ask yourself every day: why should people be led by me?

Jane Sunley is managing director of staff retention consultancy Learnpurple -

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