The funny thing about the alarm industry is that the employees who actually have the most interaction and personal contact with your customers are those nearest the "bottom of the ladder". Oftentimes, it's the employees your customers work with that are the least trained and those receiving the smallest paychecks.
On top of that, very few people are employees for life, and the days when a company could expect undying loyalty from employees are gone forever. Yet, for the most part, security industry employees at all levels are significantly more loyal to their companies than are employees of equivalent status in other industries. But there's no guarantee of loyalty.
There are certainly many factors besides monetary compensation which have serious effects on whether employees change jobs frequently or not. Outside of anyone's control, the state of the job market in a given area plays a big roll. As more jobs open up, employee attrition increases. Before you lose your best employees, you need to ask three big questions:
- What is my company doing to identify how our employees truly feel about their working conditions?
- Are we looking at ways to better foster their loyalty?
- How does employee loyalty affect our customer base?
Certainly paychecks go a very long way toward retaining good employees. But salary is not the biggest driver of employee satisfaction and turnover. So beyond, giving your employees the best paychecks you can, you need to create a deliberate strategy for employee loyalty.
The first thing I ask people to identify for themselves is what is the connection between loyal employees and loyal customers? Next, does high employee turnover affect the relationship your company has with customers? Lastly, how much does employee attrition cost you in dollars as well as in work load? These are tough questions, but you need to try to answer them.
Name a company you particularly enjoy doing business with. Now, think of another company who you don't enjoy doing business with. What makes the difference? My guess is that you have answered that question in one of three ways. The difference between those two companies is either, 1) a difference in the service level and quality, 2) a difference in the people/employees, 3) a difference of "relationship".
Flip that thinking back upon your own business. If service, people, and relationships are the factors which determine how you feel about doing business with a company, the same is clearly true for your customers and how they feel about doing business with your company. While price is certainly an important aspect of who we choose to do business with, I doubt it was the first thing you thought of when I posed these questions.
For employees, service, people and relationships are the very same factors which create loyalty. Yes, the salary is a big issue, but when it boils down to employee loyalty, this is not usually the principal consideration. The service you provide to your employees - delivered via team cooperation and training, as well as rewards and recognition -- plus the employee relationships you nurture creates this loyalty.
In Part Two:
In next week's conclusion of this column, Harris examines how you give your employees the tools to succeed, and how you can nip employee attrition in the bud.