As pool and spa professionals contemplate success in 2022, they no doubt have one thing on their minds: the ongoing labor shortage.
In fact, more than 60% of pros named that as their no. 2 concern in PHTA’s most recent Quarterly Pulse Survey—after only supply chain challenges. But labor shortages could be the biggest challenge of 2022, according to the most recent data, especially as the Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down.
That’s why experts say it’s vital to retain existing employees, who may be tempted to leave for other firms. While pay is always a consideration, longtime business owners know keeping employees is not always about money. The most successful employers pay a fair wage, but they focus on giving workers the ability to engage and find meaning in their work.
And smart business owners have figured out real-world recipes to create that work environment. Here are five sure-fire employee retention strategies pool and spa professionals have shared with me over the years, along with tips and research to help you develop your own strategies:
1. Focus on employee orientations. Too many companies just expect new hires to learn on the job. Instead of trial by fire, make sure new hires go through an extensive orientation that involves all major departments along with a thorough handbook and employee benefits review. Experts say the most critical time for retaining new employees is in those first crucial few weeks. “It’s not just about dollars. Culture and job satisfaction are hugely impacted, as well as morale, productivity, lost insider knowledge. It’s painful to lose people,” says an article from the Society for Human Resource Management.
2. Make sure employees are kept in the loop. Some company owners think it’s best to share as little information as possible. But the most successful pool and spa employers know the power of “full disclosure” about business dealings. That means giving employees not only information about key company workings but also giving them a voice in decisions and keeping them apprised of changes. Forbes lays out a good list of strategies to do so, here.
3. Show employees a clear career path. Nothing makes employees more ready to jump ship than feeling like they’re in a dead-end job. Savvy pool and spa employers use techniques such as giving each job a grade level that shows employees how they can advance in the company. More than just a psychological trick, showing employees how they can advance leads to important self-respect. Here’s a good primer on how to create a career path.
4. Provide employees with lots of training opportunities. Companies with the best retention rates make sure they provide regular and varied training throughout the year. That’s because the better trained and the more satisfied they are, the harder they’ll work for you—and remain loyal. Research backs that up. Seventy percent of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning; 34% of employees who left their previous job were motivated to do so by more career development opportunities; 86% of millennials would be kept from leaving their current position if training and development were offered by their employer, according to various studies.
5. Find multiple ways to celebrate employees. One of the best ways to make employees excited to come to keep coming to work is to publicly recognize them. Top performers are a given, but the smartest pool and spa employers also use birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to make employees know they’re appreciated. It’s best to make the rewards part of a gathering, such as weekly meetings or holiday get-togethers. And the rewards don’t have to be huge. Even a $15 gift card is enough to make employees feel valued. When companies spend just 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% notice a positive impact on engagement, according to an article from QuantumWorkplace.com, which offers seven other statistics about the benefits of rewarding employees.
No matter the strategy, in the end, retaining pool and spa employees often comes down to employers giving them something money simply can’t buy.