Following are 20 ways to recruit and keep valuable employees, offered by Joan Stewart, author of “113 Tips for Recruiting Valuable Employees” and “107 Tips for Keeping Valuable Employees”:
- Recruit spouses of current employees, or look to them for referrals.
- Offer referral bonuses.
- Target people who volunteer their services at places such as hospitals and non-profit agencies. Give them fliers like this: “If you want to get paid for what you’re doing for free, call us.”
- Call every good employee who has ever worked for you and left. You might find one who is miserable and would love to come back but is too embarrassed to contact you. (Be sure to ask them why they left in the first place.)
- Reimburse employees for some or all outstanding college fees.
- Offer interest-free car loans.
- Create testimonial ads featuring your own employees commenting on the benefits of working for you.
- Make job interviews fun and use them as a chance to strut your best stuff. Ask the friendliest person in your workplace to take applicants on a tour.
- Give your business cards to friendly, helpful people whom you would like to apply to work for you, and include a short note on the back inviting them to call you.
- Train select employees on how to interview job candidates.
- Let employees participate occasionally in job-switch days and trade jobs with other staff members.
- Set higher productivity goals for employees, then offer them generous amounts of time off if they exceed the goals.
- Create a quiet room where employees can go if they want to rest, meditate, or nap.
- Offer paid vacations to part-timers.
- When employees become ill or are injured and still want to work, make accommodations for them to work from home.
- Offer employees two hours off a week, with pay, to volunteer at their children’s schools. Childless employees can volunteer at local schools or for their favorite nonprofit.
- Create a “Wow Wall” in an open area where letters from happy customers are displayed. (If a certain employee is responsible for a specific compliment mentioned in the letter, include their photo next to the letter.)
- Treat employees to an annual bingo night and catered buffet supper.
- Use clever job titles. For example, at a sandwich chain, employees are called “Sandwich Artists.”
- Invest in business cards for everyone. They give employees a sense of self-worth.
Look at This Fun and Famous Example
Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurants have raised retaining good employees to an art form, while they make the customer experience fun and positive.
When they come to your table, wait staff introduce themselves as, for example, not just Tom or Anne, but “Famous Tom,” or “Famous Anne.” When customer names are called over the loud speaker, that customer is referred to in the same way, such as “Famous Paul.”
Even during times when the economy was bustling and good employees were hard to find, Famous Dave’s had low turnover among their wait staff and managers.
Part of the extensive training — which Famous Dave’s calls “portackular,” includes courses such as Famous Dave’s 101, which focuses on all aspects of management responsibility. Then there is the Bachelor’s of BBQ, which is a self-directed program which assists managers in building their current skills and developing new ones. Finally there is Good to Great, which is a personalized development plan which challenges the strengths of managers who want to advance further.
These are just a couple of the ways Famous Dave’s incorporates fun into the culture, and the fun trickles down to all who cross the threshold… and into the profits.