Tips for Retaining Your Best Employees

It’s much more cost-effective and efficient to keep the employees you have rather than hire and train new ones. How do you retain your best workers

Tips for Retaining Your Best Employees

In today’s unpredictable business environment, it is becoming more difficult to find — and retain — employees. HELP WANTED signs are hanging in nearly every business’s front window and out by nearly all sidewalks in front of most businesses. Unfortunately, the economic outlook news is that the shortage of employees will not be easing any time soon. While recruiting employees can be difficult, it is also important to work to retain the employees you already have.

What steps and actions are you taking to retain your current employees? Is your business lacking enough employees or are your employees leaving? These questions need to be addressed, because the total costs are in, and it is much cheaper to keep employees than to hire and train new ones.


Keep Them Working — For You

When it comes to employees in today’s business world environment, often the small things make huge differences with employee retention. You must work and be creative to keep employees on your team. First, it pays to create a teamwork environment where everyone’s contributions are acknowledged and rewarded, and where employees always feel connected to you and your business. Make their job more than just a job, but an activity that offers fulfillment or a place — a stage, if you will, to showcase their talents. Recognition, even a thank-you or acknowledging words when all employees are together, can go a long way in building that connection. Take note, however, that employees can have different motivating factors, and it’s not a one-acknowledgement-or-reward-fits-all.

Best business practices in employee retention also mean doing the extras that add up to making employees feel truly recognized and appreciated. Snacks and coffee breaks are good starters. Small tokens make great impressions, such as an unexpected coffee delivery that you or a supervisor has ordered or picked up, or a mid-morning break with snacks for all, to possibly an on-site lunch ordered for all. If you have to pick up the coffees, bring in snacks (include healthy choices). Have a small party to recognize a milestone for your business — take the time and include everyone. Yes, you may need to rotate employees through the break area so everyone can come and share in the event, so your checkout counters and other pressing business essentials are covered — but do include each and every employee.

What could work? Think outside the box, or outside the work place or environment. Along with after-hours and holiday gatherings for employees, especially those holiday parties or the anniversary of your business opening, making employees feel valued can go a long way in also retaining the employees you currently have working. Beyond food and words, think about what employees in your tactical market would enjoy.

That said, all the coffee and parties in the world won’t make up for sub-standard wages. Make sure you are competitive with what you’re paying employees for their work.



Employee Rewards Plus

Most employers unfortunately see the biweekly paycheck as the reward they pass on to employees — and often leave it at that. With that mindset in place, expect to see employees leave randomly and often, and expect to work often or non-stop to hire replacements and fill vacant positions. Along with creating a teamwork environment, many employees everywhere in the job market enjoy being able to work for incentives — the more they do, the more they can gain. This could include bonuses, additional days off, or business-related trips to a trade show or to meet with a vendor and receive on-the-job training. Your imagination (and your budget) is the only limit here. Also remember if it is related to your tactical sales center, the employee should be paid wages during the time she or he is away from the location.

Are perks important? Yes, one online survey discovered that 69% of employees said perks related to their job were important — and could be a motivating factor in keeping them with their current employer. The ability to learn new skills and improve their education in their work field were listed as some motivating perks.

Some employees who like to shoot will possibly enjoy discounts on the tactical goods you sell, plus discounts on firearms, ammunition and similar items that are popular and useful in the tactical market. When you hear employees say they would like to own or use X product, take a mental note that this item or service could be a motivator and reward in the future. Think beyond caps and T-shirts to more sought-after items like range bags, gun cases, red-dot sights, ammo and more. If an employee handles an item and smiles, there’s a reason, and you should understand the draw and the significance. Remember that the costs of gear to your business for reward products will be less expensive than trying to find, hire and train employee replacements. If you take the sales-equals-rewards route with your employees, consider putting the levels and the resulting rewards in writing so employees understand what they must do to reach reward levels.

Most employees want or even expect health and life insurance — this could be required in some states, and those are benefits that incur tax liabilities when compared to perks. Perks are assets employees want, such as memberships in a nearby fitness center—plus incentives, such as assistance with student loans. Perks can also include discounts to goods and services you negotiate with nearby businesses. It’s important to not only remind employees about the perks, but to keep them informed on how to utilize the perks you offer. Many employers report that perks are often underutilized because employees don’t understand how to use or receive those perks.

When it comes to rewarding employees and retaining them in your business, look around at other businesses and discover the benefits and perks they offer. Remember that if you only offer a paycheck, those businesses are your competitors for your employees.


Add to Their Value

Often employees in the tactical market are hired for their knowledge about firearms, tactics or the related topics, and once they’re inside your business, that’s it. This becomes a one-sided street where the employee gives knowledge to you and your customers, while the employer takes or is in the position to take advantage. The employee may soon leave because the knowledge or skills they bring to the job are the only thing the employer wants. The employee has no room to grow, and skills can become outdated. The work, work and only work scenario will cause employees to possibly work only enough to get by. Once it begins, the never-ending cycle of give-and-take is hard to pull out of. Recognizing the cycle is the first step in breaking the trend.

Consider each employee as a business asset and seek ways to improve on your investment in them. The more knowledge and skills an employee has, the better for you and the customers those employees encounter on the sales floor or at the checkout counter.

Many employees enjoy access to training and education programs that could be offered by major vendors and key accounts you do business with. Many vendors and sources also offer trips, events, swag gear, sales incentives and more. If you accept these perks as the business owner, that’s fine, but also consider passing some of the perks to your key employees to add rewards to their job. The extras can help an employee feel valued and cost you little to nothing.

As a reminder, an additional bonus is that if your current employees enjoy working for you, they can be a great channel to find new employees when you need to hire and fill new or vacant positions. Another reason to work to retain current employees.


Recognition on All Levels

As a business owner, you have lots of details that need daily, weekly and monthly attention. To keep things operating smoothly, it pays to have a calendar and notebook just to keep track and meet expected deadlines or milestones. You should take that tracking and scheduling work a step further and create an employee calendar to track and recognize key employment milestones, such as years in service (on the date hired) or birthdates and other key life-centered milestones. Some tactical retailers give employees their birthday off (with pay) or host a cake cutting for all employees to join the milestone recognition. At a minimum, take the time to thank the employee personally for years of service and let everyone know that a milestone has been reached. A simple thank-you can go a long way in building that connection with employees.

All recognition should be sincere and timely, and it should involve all employees so they recognize the employer (you) takes note — and makes everyone feel welcome.


The Cold Hard Employment Fact

While having and working with great employees can make running a business more rewarding and easier for all involved, the truth is that sometimes you end up with a not-so-great worker. Unfortunately, one employee with a poor work ethic or a bad attitude can detract from operations and drain your time and resources. These negative employees can also negatively affect your other employees.

It’s unfortunate in business, but not all employees should be rewarded or retained, because they view their job as just a job. Waiting on customers is often seen as a burden to people with this mindset, and responsibility for actions or job completion of their assigned tasks is lacking. This type of employee needs constant supervision and has a standard ethic of “Yeah, I did it” — the minimum. This is a problem that often affects other employees, and it will benefit your bottom line if you stay alert to potential problems so you can correct or remove them.

Keep in mind that perks and benefits that are important to your employees can change over time. Look at what other like businesses offer and educate yourself. One place to become educated on what other tactical and retail businesses in the shooting sports do can be obtained by attending a SHOT Show seminar on employees when offered. After learning, you may need to adjust what incentives you put on the table for your employees.

All efforts when dealing with and recognizing the contributions of your employees should be focused on one objective: retaining good employees.


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