Retaining Your Most Important Asset: Your Employees

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One of the cool things I’ve gotten to do since I became the managing editor for The MHEDA Journal is conduct interviews for MHEDA-TV. You all see the finished products that we post on MHEDA-TV each month. Each Material Handling Business Trend video ends up being about 4 minutes long, with an introduction and a 3 key takeaways section at the end. We really only end up using a few minutes from these interviews. But often the conversations last for 10 to 15 minutes. And while we don’t use the entirety of the interview for the videos, I’ve often walked out of those interviews armed with several article ideas for future issues of the magazine. 

At this year’s MHEDA Convention in Phoenix, I spent the majority of my time in an interview room conducting these interviews. I spoke not only with the amazing presenters and speakers, but also with MHEDA Members on a wide variety of topics. You’ll see the results of these interviews coming out over the next several months. One of the topics that I really enjoyed discussing was being an Employer of Choice and with that the importance of a strong onboarding program. 

We’ve understandably devoted a lot of time and effort in the last several years discussing how to recruit potential employees into our companies. Unemployment has been at a historic low for several years. Pair that with the dreaded “Skills Gap” and you have a recipe for slim pickings for job openings. However recruiting and hiring the right employee is only one part of the equation. Once you get them in the door, you have to be able to keep that candidate there. Because in this job market, that desirable candidate will have lots of options. 

Retention is just as, if not more, important as recruiting. It was a key point in Captain Michael Abrashoff’s keynote presentation at Convention. He stated, “In your business, if you lose somebody for $1.00 more per hour, you’re going to lose more than that in lost productivity and recruiting and replacing a replacement. I found that it was far cheaper to retain the talent that we already have than to lose it and have to go out and replace it. That’s what drove me to focus on retention and being that employer of choice.” 

That echoes one of this year’s Material Handling Business Trends, which states, “Labor shortages continue to challenge members.  This includes skilled labor, sales, technical support and management. Members must ensure their organization is an employer of choice in order to attract and retain top talent.  Having a multi-faceted recruitment strategy along with a structured on-boarding program is critical.” 

As Captain Abrashoff stated, in the long run it’s much more costly to recruit and train a new employee than it is to retain an existing employee. And the road to retention starts on day 1 with a structured on-boarding program. In the 2nd Quarter 2018 issue of The MHEDA Journal Convention Speaker Andy McNulty wrote an article titled, “What Do We Do With the New Guy/Girl?” that demonstrated the importance of setting the right tone early in the onboarding process. The statistics he presented were mind boggling.

  • Properly onboarded new employees are 69% more likely to stay with your company for longer than 3 years.
  • 86% of respondents to a study by the Aberdeen Group of Senior Executives and HR Staffing felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment
  • One third of respondents to a survey by BambooHR said they had quit a job within six months of starting it and 17 percent of those respondents left between the first week and the third month. 

I can’t recommend going back and re-reading this article enough. It is especially poignant is the job market continues to be incredibly strong. In today’s environment, when retaining employees is more important than ever, is your company doing everything you can to retain the ones you just spent so much time and effort recruiting?



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