What do you mean, “I quit”?

8 steps to keep your workforce happy

Cutting costs and cycle time might be at the top of your list of concerns, but neglecting your employees can hurt the bottom line. Be sure you’re valuing their contributions to your company’s success. –Dennis Gros

When your manufacturing floor is humming with a cadence that exudes productivity and there’s a backlog of orders, life at your molding facility couldn’t be better. But what happens when some of your most reliable and productive employees come to you and unexpectedly say, “I quit!” How could you possibly be blind-sided by this development? What did you miss?

Unfortunately, this is all too common, especially when there’s a favorable employment climate. In these circumstances, employees feel empowered to make a move because there’s a lot to choose from.

Here are tips for keeping your workforce happy:

1. Change your mindset and forget the word “employee.” These people who collect your autograph on their paychecks are your “internal customers.” Without them, you can’t achieve your goals. Switching to a mindset of internal customer raises your ongoing awareness of their need for professional development and job satisfaction. Happy internal customers should not be taken for granted any more than your external customers should.

2. Make sure your supervisors value their internal customers. Usually, employees don’t resign from their companies; they quit because of their supervisors. One of the biggest complains we hear is, “My supervisor is a micromanager.”

3. Make sure your internal customers know your company’s goals. You can recite them. But when you ask your internal customers, do they know? Thought so. You haven’t communicated your message. There’s a newspaper in Dunn, NC named The Daily Record. Its founder, Hoover Adams, had a three-word summary of his goal: names, names, and names. It was so simple, and everyone could recite it. He and all of his internal customers understood that the success of a local paper lies in writing about local people. That’s why people will buy it. And as a result, his newspaper achieved the equivalent of a circulation gold medal: more copies than people, or 112% penetration. (According to the book, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. )

4. Internal customers must know where they stand. Here’s a foolproof, easy way to cut your turnover rate: Say “thank you.” That’s it. When’s the last time your internal customer heard you say it? A little appreciation goes a long way.

5. If communication is not a two-way street, you’re in trouble. What’s your typical response to your employee’s request, “Got a minute?” There are only two correct answers: “If it’s critical, we’ll talk not, but if it’s not, let’s talk at 2 o’clock”; or “Sure!” By the way, if you’re not getting that question, you’re marooned on the management tower, alone, unsupported, uninformed, precarious. Input from your internal customers is more important than you think. Compared to you, they are closer to the customer and closer to the production floor. You need to hear from them to understand areas that need improvement or attention.

6. Time is more valuable than money. Don’t play games with sick leave. Are your internal customers entitled to the time, or not? If they are, encourage them to take it, sick or not (or offer to buy the days back). Reward outstanding performance with a day off.

7. Devote a morning to a new hire. When you hire a new internal customer, choreograph the first day. Make sure this person gets a warm start on the new job. Orientation sets the stage for longevity.

8. Be quick to recognize bad eggs. Get rid of them. Now. Your outstanding internal customers know who the bad ones are, and they don’t like them. Bad employees are like cancer—their bad cells will spread unless they are cut out of the picture.

            A good workforce taken for granted becomes a non-existent workforce. The morale of your top employees should be at the top of your mind. Why? The cost of replacing a good internal customer is horrendous—usually 60% of annual salary (or more) for discovery, selection, interviewing, salary increase (did you think you’d hire the new person for the same salary as the previous employee?), and training.

Aside from the above tips that every processor should adhere to, it’s also important to point out that today’s workforce is more likely than in recent years to jump ship. According to the results of the 2017 Annual Gros Executive Recruiters / Society of Plastics Engineers Salary & Hiring Trends Survey, when respondents were asked “What is the likelihood that you will actively look for a new job in the next 12 months?” half of the survey participants responded that they could be lured to a new company:

·       Somewhat likely: 32%

·       Very definitely: 7%

·       I am actively seeking a new job: 11.0%

Now, if that’s not a wake up call, I don’t know what is.

Hiring isn’t easy. You deserve the best employees you can get. And over time you’ll get the best employees, or internal customers, you deserve.

Posted by on November 21, 2017 in .

Dennis Gros

Originally from South Louisiana, Dennis founded Gros Executive Recruiters in 1989 and moved operations to middle Tennessee two years later. He is a frequent speaker, author, and editorial contributor for publications and events related to plastics and packaging employment. On weekends you might find him playing piano in a swing band.